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Government begins digging for Turkish Cypriot missing
2002-12-05 11:48:26

Nicosia, Dec 5 (CNA) -- The Greek Cypriot side began here Wednesday exploratory digging at Alaminos village in southern Cyprus to locate the site where Turkish Cypriots were reportedly buried after they lost their lives during fire exchange with the National Guard (Greek Cypriot army) on July 20, 1974.

A Foreign Ministry press release said the digging is part of the Cyprus government's efforts to investigate and ascertain, to the degree possible by the Greek Cypriot side, the fate of the missing persons, without any discrimination.

During the 20 July 1974 incident 19 persons lost their lives, including 14 Turkish Cypriots and were buried at a site within the Alaminos village by their Greek Cypriot fellow villagers. Their relatives declared the names of these Turkish Cypriots, as missing and they are on the list of the Turkish Cypriot missing persons.|

The digging is being conducted by the independent non-governmental organisation "Physicians for Human Rights" which is in Cyprus as part of a campaign of exhumations by the government of Cyprus.

''The whole procedure has a humanitarian nature and aims at respecting the rights of the families to be informed, with credible evidence, the fate of their loved ones and return the scientifically established remains of each missing for a dignified burial, according to their religious traditions,'' the Foreign Ministry statement said.

The Greek Cypriot side wishes to see a 1997 agreement on the issue of missing persons, signed by President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, implemented. The agreement provides for the exhumation of remains in the government-controlled southern part of Cyprus and the Republic's northern areas occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.

In the summer of 1999, the government of Cyprus in a unilateral move embarked on a process of exhumation and identification of remains in two local cemeteries.

The process of identification through the DNA method continues with a view to identify, if possible, all exhumed remains.

Soon after the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 per cent of the island's territory a total of 1,619 Greek Cypriots and Greeks were reported as missing. The Turkish Cypriots reported 500 people missing.

CNA/EC/GP/2002
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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