A Grave Job: Hunting ID’s for Cyprus’ War Missing Victims

April 29, 2018

Coming up on 44 years since Turkey’s unlawful invasion of Cyprus split the island, grave-hunters from both sides are still trying to identify the remains of the killed missing to give their families some sense of rest.

Archaeologists who work on exhumations with the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) said they hope more people will provide information, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) said in a feature report, at the same time the legitimate Cypriot government said Turkey has continued to deliberately hide and move remains to prevent being blamed for atrocities.

Several of the archaeologists spoke to CNA at two excavation sites in the occupied north, one at Mia Milia and the other in Kyrenia. There are four groups of archaeologists who work on excavation sites for the remains of Greek Cypriots and three groups for Turkish Cypriots. Soon, another two groups are set to start excavations.

At Mia Milia, excavations are taking place near an old brick factory after the group was told six or seven Turkish-Cypriots were buried there are being killed in the brutal fighting that Excavations there began Sept. 13, 2017 but nothing has been found and the archaeologists are waiting for approval to look in a nearby site where Turkish-Cypriot archaeologist Cinar Karal and Greek Cypriot archaeologist Nolli Moysi work together.

‘’I like my job, we are helping the relatives, every time we start excavating we are hopeful that we will find bones, we are searching very carefully, there is always hope inside us,’’ Karal told the news agency.

It’s a difficult task as witnesses die off and finding information on sites slips away with them and as others don’t want to come forward with Turks now living in the homes of Cypriots in the occupied land.

‘’Please give information to us, for the sake of the relatives because they are waiting, the families are waiting, they hope their missing persons are somewhere but until we tell them they are dead they cannot accept it,’’said.

Moysi added: ’At the beginning, of course, we all feel anxious when we excavate, this is a job that needs patience, we need to work hard and with persistence,’’ to keep looking.

Some 500 Turkish Cypriots and 1,500 Greek Cypriots disappeared during armed clashes in the 1960s and during the 1974 Turkish invasion. So far, 801 missing persons from both communities have been identified and returned to the families for a dignified burial.


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