Letters and information flyers were sent to all 650 Members of UK Parliament to mark this year’s Cyprus Missing Persons’ day on October 29, in a campaign coordinated by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, with the support of the Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou.
The campaign aimed to raise awareness of this tragic humanitarian issue and to urge MPs to ensure that the UK Government was playing its full part in determining the fate of the Missing, a relevant announcement says.
“On 29 October, Cypriots globally mark Missing Persons Day, as it was this month in 1974 that the last prisoners of war were released by Turkey army after its illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Cyprus began. Missing Persons Day is a reminder of the tragic fate of the 975 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots whose fate still remains unknown, and the heartache and anguish suffered by their families, across both communities of Cyprus” it is added.
In the letter to Members of Parliament (MPs), the Federation President Christos Karaolis emphasises that “these Missing Persons are not just Cypriots, they are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends to families who, to this day, have been denied justice and closure.”
Whilst recognising the support the UK provides to the Committee for Missing Persons, he urges MPs “to ensure that Her Majesty’s Government is unequivocally calling on Turkey to guarantee unhindered access to military sites in the illegally occupied area for purposes of exhumation; release the information in its possession regarding the location of new burial sites of the Missing Persons moved from primary burial places and; permit investigators access to military archives.”
The Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Cyprus, Rt Hon Sir Roger Gale MP, also joined the campaign, by tabling a written question to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs asking if “He will have discussions with his Turkish counterpart on the importance of resolving the issue of Missing Persons in Cyprus and the role that Turkey can play by providing access to military sites for exhumation purposes as well as releasing all information, including from military archives?”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.
A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.
Source: Cyprus News Agency