The Committee on Missing Persons will continue its significant work, says Greek Cypriot member
Nicosia, Aug 13 – A Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), Elias Georgiades, has said that the recent identification of the remains of five Greek Cypriot National Guardsmen who were missing since 1974, when Turkey invaded Cyprus, gave important information and answers to their families.
The five prisoners were photographed surrendering to Turkish troops during the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The black and white photograph became an iconic symbol of the long battle to discover the fate of missing persons. The remains of these five men were exhumed from a well in the occupied area of Cyprus in 2006 along with those of 14 other people, in the framework of the CMP Project on the Exhumation, Identification and Return of Remains of Missing Persons in Cyprus.
Mr. Georgiades said that the state and the society will now pay tribute to them and their remains will be properly buried. He also expressed the belief that this will ease the pain of their relatives.
The CMP is functioning under very difficult circumstances and always works in the framework of its mandate, he added. He reassured that the Committee, being fully aware of the tragic circumstances experienced for decades by the missing persons’ families, and its delicate humanitarian mission, will continue its difficult work.
He also noted that the Committee expects to have the responsible support and help of everyone, so that the necessary positive and productive climate is maintained, to achieve the best possible results.
Mr. Georgiades added that the CMP has proceeded to excavate in more than 260 sites all over Cyprus and that the remains of more than 500 people have been found in 120 locations. So far, the remains of 172 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons have been identified. Ninety-six of them were on the list of Greek Cypriot missing persons and 32 on the list of Greek Cypriots killed during the invasion. He said that more results regarding the identification of exhumed remains are expected in September.
When asked whether the Turkish photographer Ergin Konuksever, who took the picture of the five Greek Cypriot soldiers, gave a testimony at the CMP, Mr. Georgiades said that Mr. Konuksever gave some answers 15 years ago to the then Swiss member of the Committee. However, he added that his testimony could not be verified through the testimonies of other eyewitnesses and Mr. Konuksever had not given as many details then as he did in his recent statements.
Since July 2007 the CMP began returning remains of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot individuals to their families.
The primary objective of this project is to enable relatives of missing persons to recover the remains of their loved ones, arrange for a proper burial and close a long period of anguish and uncertainty. Most Cypriot families have been directly or indirectly affected and the hope is that the healing of old wounds will in turn favor the overall process of reconciliation between both communities. To this end, the project is of a bi-communal nature with teams of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists involved at every stage of the exhumation and identification processes.
The project includes an Archaeological Phase (Phase I), related to the exhumation of the remains of missing persons, an Anthropological Phase (Phase II), related to the analysis of the recovered remains in the CMP anthropological laboratory, and a Genetic Phase (Phase III), related to the DNA identification process. Lastly, the Return of Remains (Phase IV) aims to help the families of both communities cope with the difficult task of coming to terms with their loss.