Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Cyprus: plea for information on the missing

President Nicos Anastasiades has appealed to anyone who has information with regard to missing persons in Cyprus to come forward and share it with the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).

Speaking on Sunday evening at an event organiSed by the Cyprus Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons and Undeclared Prisoners of 1974, at the Panorama of Missing Persons, in the village of Kornos, Anastasiades noted that this appeal was made both by him and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mustafa Akinci.

“We are exerting pressure in all directions for Turkey to finally be persuaded to cooperate and allow search operations in areas which it has turned into closed military zones,” the President said, adding that he raised the issue with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Efforts have also been directed towards the five UN Security Council Permanent Members, he noted.

“As long as the Cyprus problem remains unresolved and as long as there are military occupation forces that describe some of our occupied areas as ‘military zones’, finding our missing persons or at least investigating the fate of our missing persons will unfortunately be impossible,” he said.

Anastasiades said he would not stop, together with the rest of the political leadership, to pursue a solution to the Cyprus problem that will abolish armies and military zones, and which will provide every Cypriot citizen with the right to reside freely where he or she wishes, with human rights safeguarded. The missing persons issue, he said, was one of the integral elements of the solution.

The list of missing persons includes 1,508 Greek Cypriots, 43 of whom went missing between 1963-1964 when intercommunal violence broke out in Cyprus. The list also includes 493 Turkish Cypriots, 229 of whom are thought to have been lost during the period 1963-1967.

Two hundred and sixty four Turkish Cypriots went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island and there have been some reports that 126 of them were lost in the areas of Aloa-Maratha-Sandalari.

So far 444 identifications of Greek Cypriots have been carried out and 138 of Turkish Cypriots. Approximately 200 cases are in the stage of anthropological or genetic analysis, 100 Greek Cypriot missing cannot be identified and the remains of 800 missing persons are still to be located.

Over 30 missing persons remains identified so far this year

Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) Nestoras Nestoros has said that the remains of 34 missing persons had been identified so far in 2015.

He told the Cyprus News Agency that the Committee was focusing both on the quality of the tests carried out and the quantity of the remains handed over to the families.

Nestoros said that the number of missing persons identified could be much more “if we gave the relatives a couple of bones of their loved ones.” He said that in the cases of ‘mixed bones’ such as those found in mass graves, they are tested but when skeletal samples fail to come up with a DNA identification or the DNA distinctiveness is low “then we deem that we must continue our efforts.”

Thos remains that fail the DNA test for one profile may match with the profile of another missing persons and the tests start over.

“We have to be able to give the families as many bones as possible,” Nestoros said.

He said that after the conclusion of the genetic tests, the lab experts evaluate whether they must send new samples from other mixed bones that have not been identified. “Our aim is to exhaust all scientific means with a view to return as much of the remains as possible,” Nestoros added. In the case of complete skeletons, when the DNA distinctiveness is low then more genetic material is sent for DNA tests, he said. Nestoros said that when the remains are handed over to each family, relatives are also given a comprehensive report comprising the anthropological findings, genetic tests and a comprehensive archeological report in Greek, English and Turkish.

He noted that according to the recommendations of foreign experts, the CMP was implementing a pilot programme with a view to determining whether it should change the protocols of its anthropological tests in the cases where mixed bones are discovered.

According to Nestoros, excavations are being carried out currently in nine areas, two in the government controlled areas and seven in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north.

He called on everyone who participated in the burial of people or has any information to give to the Committee to do so. He said that from the 444 Greek Cypriots who have been identified, 281 were found buried in different places from where they had reportedly disappeared. (CNA)

Tuesday 21 July 2015




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