Hanım Tosun, Head of the Association for Solidarity and Support of Relatives of Disappeared People (YAKAY-DER), called mass graves "a shame for Turkey". She demanded, "The classified documents shelved in the archives must be opened. The state has documents that show who is buried where".
Executives of YAKAY-DER held a meeting with a group of journalists in Istanbul on Tuesday (1 March). They conveyed information on work regarding mass graves and unsolved disappearances.
The relatives of the disappeared requested to open the mass graves by scientific methods. Additionally, they voiced the following demands: An expert team including archaeologists should be present during the excavations; the excavations have to be carried out by hand without heavy machinery or shovels; bones must not be destroyed; the Forensic Medicine Institute should confirm identities more quickly and a DNA data base should be established to be able to deliver the bones to the relatives of the disappeared.
The meeting was attended by Radikal newspaper writer Oral Çalışlar, Forensic Medicine Expert and Head of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) Şebnem Korur Fincanı, Milliyet newspaper writer Ayşe Mehveş Evin, Nadire Mater and Ertuğrul Kürkçü from bianet, lawyer Eren Keskin as the former Istanbul Branch President of the Human Rights Association (İHD), moviemaker and writer Melek Ulagay, Günlük newspaper General Publications Director Filiz Koçali, journalist Murat Çelikkan and Şanar Yurdatapan from the Initiative against Thought Crime.
Two pictures posted on the wall of the conference hall strikingly summarized the government's view on both the Kurdish question and its citizens. One photograph featured an excavation of a mass grave in Argentina showing archaeologists and other experts wearing plastic gloves while carefully taking out bones one by one. The other photograph depicted the recent excavation in Mutki (south-eastern Turkey) which was done with diggers and shovels.
"They killed our children so they should give us their bones at least"
Cemal Bektaş from YAKAY-DER indicated, "The bones excavated in mass graves are getting lost in the post. If the bones of 16 people come out of a mass grave but only two families apply, the remaining bones are being destroyed. They killed our children so they should give us their bones at least. The families will forgive them".
Bektaş announced that about 1,400 bodies were found in 85 mass graves. He also mentioned a meeting of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with relatives of the disappeared. "The Prime Minister said 'There were no disappearances during my term', but 365 unsolved murders were committed. Does the Prime Minister not know about these people?"
Forensic Medicine Expert Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Head of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), emphasized that a criminal complaint should be filed about the people who are responsible for the destruction of bones by using shovels for the excavations.
Hasan Avraş, relative of one of the disappeared, stated that the bones of their relatives were found in a mass grave but then lost at the Forensic Medicine Institute.
Lawyer Eren Keskin talked about the "Unsolved Disappearances Investigation Commission, a sub-commission established within the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission. Keskin pointed out that the commission should investigate the entire number of disappearances instead of concentrating on the cases of Tolga Baykal Ceylan and Cemil Kırbayır only. (AS/EÜ/VK)