The missing persons committee (CMP) will investigate a media report claiming Greek Cypriot prisoners had been buried alive following the Turkish invasion in 1974, a senior official said on Thursday.
“We will investigate this new information and include it in the file that concerns mass graves,” Greek Cypriot member of the CMP Nestoras Nestoros told the Cyprus News Agency.
He was commenting on a report by Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika, claiming that Greek Cypriot prisoners had been buried alive near a river in Adana, Turkey. The paper also reported about a mass grave near the church of Apostolos Varnavas containing the bodies of Greek Cypriots from surrounding villages.
Nestoros said the CMP regularly raised the matter of a mass grave in Adana. He added that they also knew of a mass grave in the area of Kyrenia’s Botanical Gardens from information provided by a Greek Cypriot survivor. Plus, the CMP had testimony that bodies had been collected in the area.
Under the headline “Buried Alive,” Afrika reported on Thursday that Greek Cypriots taken prisoner were brutally murdered and buried near a river.
The information came from a man who claimed he was at the Kyrenia harbour working when he overheard two Turkish soldiers talking about it. At the time, there were Greek Cypriot prisoners there awaiting their transfer to Turkey.
“If we take them to Adana too, we will do what we did to the others,” one of the soldiers said. “We took the others, tied their arms and legs and buried them alive near a river there; we didn’t waste any bullets. Because we buried them on the riverbank, the river will carry them away with the passage of time and no trace will be found.”
The unnamed eye witness was around 18 at the time and, along with other people, he had been asked by the Turkish army to pour concrete on the road to the harbour for better access.
He said Greek Cypriot prisoners were lined up there and the workers were told not to look at them.
The report, signed by Afrika editor Sener Levent, also claimed that the biggest mass grave was located in the yard of the Apostolos Varnavas church.
Levent suggested that Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali was assassinated in 1996 because he was looking into the matter.
After the creation of the CMP in the early 90s, Levent said, Turkey sought to eliminate all traces of mass graves in Cyprus. To this end, it sent a group of people to Cyprus who went looking for those with information.
Adali was one of them, Levent said, and he had also been threatened by an army officer but no one has the courage to come out and say that.