Presidential Commissioner, Photis Photiou, announced that the Republic of Cyprus will release the amount of €1.2 million, for the identification of 2,500 small bones.
In statements after having briefed MPs in Parliament, Photiou said the procedure of identifying the bones, which mainly belong to people from the Turkish occupied village of Asha, needs to move forward, even if the Republic of Cyprus has to cover the cost, in case it exceeds the financial capacity of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP). “We have an obligation to do our utmost, regardless of the outcome of the identification procedure,” he stressed.
"The procedure of identifying the bones, which mainly belong to people from the Turkish occupied village of Asha, needs to move forward, even if the Republic of Cyprus has to cover the cost"
According to the Commissioner “approximately 750 cases of missing persons, almost 50% of the total cases, are still not resolved.” Photiou pointed out that the intransigent attitude of Turkey who still refuses to grant access to the archives of the Turkish army, which would be the safest source of information about the location of mass graves and transferred bones, continues to be the main obstacle in the CMP's work.
“The majority of the bones that we are looking for at the moment, have been relocated”, said the Commissioner, who mentioned that the relocation of remains is mainly associated with the massacres of women, children and elders in Asha. He added that the CMP should proceed with excavations and exhumations in Turkish occupied Dikomo, following the information for relocations, coming from the Turkish Cypriot side.
The Commissioner described the issue of the identification of bones that have been sprayed (50-60 boxes of them) as an “open wound”. He said that samples were sent to Spain for tests, but did not appear optimistic about the outcome.
He further noted that Cyprus undertakes informative initiatives about the issue at UN and EU levels, so that they, in turn, can exert pressure on Turkey, to change its attitude.
There are 900 more persons to be identified
Leonidas Pantelides, the Greek Cypriot Representative in the CMP, announced that last year 37 persons were identified, of whom 29 were missing persons and 6 were war victims of the Turkish invasion.
According to Pantelides, there was a decrease in CMP’s outcomes in the past months, but he appeared hopeful for a positive change. He has said that at the moment CMP could identify up to 100 more persons based on the remains they have on hand. Still, there are 900 more persons on CMP’s list, who have not been identified yet.
Regarding the 2,500 small fragments of bones that have not been identified, he mentioned that the CMP will propose to the Presidential Commissioner to allow the process to move forward. As explained by Pantelides, every little piece of bone has to be tested separately, as it is very difficult to assembly such small samples and determine to whom they used to belong.
He said that the Committee is looking for new technologies that will facilitate the research, such as ultrasound radars, as well as drones with special cameras that can locate any differences on the ground which are not visible to the naked eye.
Awaiting the expert from Portugal since August 2021
The expert from Portugal, who was expected to guide the excavation in a garbage dump where bones seem to have been transferred, has yet to arrive. He was expected to arrive in August, but his contract has been delayed pending approval of his remuneration. He is scheduled to remain in Cyprus for four months with a team of four to provide guidance to CMP staff.
The Members of the Parliament that participated in the meeting with the Committee for Refugees, welcomed the government’s decision to cover the cost for the identification of 2,500 bones, which will add up to €1.2 million, as each test costs €500.