Relatives of missing persons from the occupied village of Assia on Tuesday criticised the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) for making their pain worse by not first investigating the validity of information that the remains of their loved ones had been moved from their mass grave to a former landfill in Dikomo in the north before informing them.
The issue was discussed at the House refugees committee in the presence of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou and the Greek Cypriot member of the CMP Nestoras Nestoros.
Nestoros told MPs that the information submitted by the Turkish Cypriot member of the CMP Gulden Plumer Kucuk some two weeks ago that remains of around 70 people from Assia, who were murdered by Turkish soldiers during the 1974 invasion and who were buried in a mass grave in Ornithi, had been moved to a former landfill in Dikomo, appears to be valid.
He said that a CMP crew has already visited the site and that depending on the findings of further investigations they would begin excavations.
Kucuk submitted information to the CMP based on testimonies of six Turkish Cypriots who were involved in transferring the remains of around 70 people from a mass grave in Ornithi, an area just outside the village of Assia, to a landfill in Dikomo. The transfer reportedly occurred sometime in 1995 or 1996. The landfill was reportedly open until 2002. After it was closed, the regime in the north covered the garbage with soil and planted trees on top.
The CMP however has already informed the relatives of missing persons from Assia, before investigations were completed.
Representative of the committee of relatives of Assia missing persons Yiannos Demetriou told MPs that they met the CMP on November 17 but the committee should only have informed them after investigating this new piece of information.
Demetriou said that research is always necessary before disseminating such information “to avoid repeating phenomena of misinformation that make the pain of relatives more intense”.
When the relatives were informed of the move of the remains of their loved ones, he said, “we felt like naked acrobats without a safety net”.
Both Photiou and committee head Skevi Koukouma said the information submitted to the CMP on the move of the remains was aimed at giving the impression that Turkey is cooperating to resolve the humanitarian issue of missing persons ahead of the next Council of Europe Committee of Ministers meeting, where the situation in Cyprus is to be also discussed.
Photiou said this is the first time that the other side has admitted to moving remains, but that Kucuk’s report said the move was not an act of the Turkish military but of 5-6 individuals, and was an attempt to absolve the occupation army of its responsibilities.
The Commissioner also said he was surprised the CMP announced this new information and informed the relatives before an investigation was completed.
Regarding excavations that began recently at the Nicosia General hospital to retrieve the remains of 31 victims of a bomb dropped during the first leg of the invasion, Photiou said so far the remains of 10 people had been located, as had pieces of the bomb.