A 95-year-old Turkish Cypriot woman pointed out the graves of 36 missing Greek Cypriots just months before she died, it emerged on Wednesday, as officials said older people must be convinced or even pushed to reveal any information they had.
They stressed that no one would be prosecuted.
Paul-Henri Arni, a member of the committee on missing persons (CMP), made the plea at a bicommunal event organised by the Slovak embassy at the Ledra Palace, but did not provide details of the case.
The Cyprus News Agency reported that it concerned 36 Greek Cypriots found in two mass graves in Trahonas, in north Nicosia.
Arni stressed the need for older people who lived through the intercommunal violence of the 1960s and the 1974 Turkish invasion to come forward or even be pressured into giving up the information.
“The CMP located the remains of 36 individuals in 2015 thanks to an elderly woman witness who was 95 years old,” Arni said. He added that despite her fears she decided to speak up because she felt that if she hadn’t she would soon be dead taking with her important information.
She died a few months after the CMP located the remains.
“Many people who knew firsthand of the whereabouts of the grave sites that remain unknown have already died,” Arni said. “Witnesses who are still alive are very old. We don’t have time to convince them to speak to the CMP for the good of all the families still seeking their loved ones 55 and 44 years after their traces were lost.”
Out of 2002 people declared missing by both sides, the CMP has so far located the remains of around 900.
Arni urged politicians to exert their influence on people to convince them to come forward, knowing they won’t be prosecuted.
“They must also understand that families from both communities need this important information so that the suffering stops,” he said.
Nestoras Nestoros, the Greek Cypriot member of the CMP and Gulden Plumer Kucuk, the Turkish Cypriot member, also addressed the event which was attended by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders or representatives, religious leaders or their representatives, diplomats and other officials.