Some remains of missing persons have been removed and hidden to cover up mass executions, the Pancyprian Organisation of Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons has said.
The organisation said that over the past two years less and less valid information is reaching the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) and the authorities of the Republic, while Turkey continues refusing to cooperate, open its archives and allow access for investigation in areas branded `military zones` in the north.
It said from a number of exhumations over the past few years, another dimension of the problem had come to light, that of the deliberate removal of remains from their initial burial sites with the aim of concealing mass executions carried out by invading Turkish troops on civilians and prisoners of war.
“The tragic case we see today concerns 70 civilians aged over 50, of whom 52 were from the village of Assia and 18 from neighbouring communities,” the organisation said.
It added that from the recent identification of incomplete remains found in the Ornithi area, information was confirmed regarding the removal of remains and their transfer to an unknown place.
“The result of this second, heinous crime against the victims and their relatives, is the discovery and handing over to the families of just a small part of the remains, which in most cases is just a few bones or bone fragments. Also, the refusal of the Turkish side to give information and explanations regarding the places they were taken to cannot be overlooked,” it added.
The organisation said it was unacceptable and demanded an immediate reaction from the government and the CMP so that the bones that were removed were found.
It also calls on the government and the CMP to make a firm commitment that the case files concerning the removal of remains would not be closed and that investigations would continue and intensify.
According to the CMP, to date, 1,508 Greek Cypriots and 493 Turkish Cypriots are on the missing list.
The number of identified remains of individuals returned to their families are: Greek Cypriots: 509 and Turkish Cypriots: 127, while 927 sites have been excavated. (CNA)