European Parliament rapporteur determined to help missing persons issue
Nicosia, Oct 5 – First hand experience of the situation on the ground, in relation to the issue of missing persons in Cyprus, was pivotal for Euro MP Ewa Klamt in the preparation of her report to the European Parliament.
Speaking after her meetings on both sides of the divide in Cyprus, she said by the end of the year she would report to the Parliament on her experience here with the families, members of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP), at exhumation sites and the bicommunal anthropological laboratory which identifies exhumed remains and will seek more funds for the work they are doing.
“Behind each number, there is a family, a name, a friend, it is still very hard for the families, as identification and return of remains opens up wounds again for them. I am very grateful to the families who have accepted to see me during my short visit to Cyprus,” she said, noting that this was a “very emotional” encounter for her.
She explained that her job now is to “make this problem known to the Parliament and work to speed up the work that needs to be done” through more pledges for funds, something that will help hire more scientists, perhaps more equipment and laboratory assistants. “I shall recommend support to the CMP because through them we shall extend support to the families of the missing,” she recently stated.
She said the 1.5 million euro now available for the work of the CMP would probably run out by the end of 2008 and through her work she can speak out for Cyprus and encourage other countries to extend their support, financial and other, to this humanitarian issue.
Ms. Klamt expressed thanks to the CMP members, noting their determination to move forward with a view to have results.
Replying to questions, she said people in both communities have said they want this work to continue and pointed out that political backing of these efforts is a must, if it is to go forward.
Asked about any problems she has identified during her meetings, she said “people’s expectations are high, they want quick results”, explaining that this is a pain-staking effort which takes time to ensure it is fully verified.
Ms. Klamt said she did not believe that in most likelihood it would not be possible to locate and identify every single person listed as missing and referred to problems such as construction of new buildings at various sites and the death of witnesses as drawbacks which hamper this humanitarian effort.
Another element of this tragic aspect of the Cyprus question she noted is the fact that families have begun asking for information about the circumstances of death of their loved ones.
“Identification and return of remains, which is what is happening now, is an important first step,” she said, adding that talk of the circumstances of death would open up additional wounds.
On the fate of Greek Cypriot missing persons, led away during the 1974 Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus as prisoners by the Turkish military, she said the issue should be addressed with the Turkish military, see if they keep files and demand that they open up these files to find the necessary information.
Ms. Klamt’s first visit to Cyprus follows her appointment as rapporteur on “missing persons in Cyprus” of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament and the adoption of a resolution on the issue of missing persons.
The European Parliament resolution, adopted on 13 March this year, calls on all parties concerned “to cooperate sincerely and honestly on a speedy completion of the appropriate investigations into the fate of all missing persons in Cyprus and to implement fully the relevant European Court for Human Rights judgment in May 2001.”
It also calls on the parties concerned and all those who have or are in a position to have any information or evidence emanating from personal knowledge, archives, battlefield reports or records of detention places to pass it on to the CMP without further delay.
Another resolution, adopted on 4 April this year by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, refers to the issue of missing persons, “stressing that the Court noted in particular the continuing absence of effective investigations into the fate of missing Greek Cypriots, as well as the silence of the Turkish authorities in the face of the real concerns of the relatives of missing persons.”
This interim resolution notes with satisfaction that exhumations have been performed all over Cyprus and analysis of remains found is conducted for the purpose of identification of those remains.
It emphasizes the urgency of this issue, welcomes the progress achieved in the work of the CMP and “calls upon Turkey to rapidly provide information on additional measures required to ensure the effective investigations called for by the Court’s judgment.”