The number of skulls found in a mass grave in the district of Saraykapı (İçkale/Diyarbakır) rose to 23. Relatives of disappeared persons applied to the prosecutor's office on 25 January with the requests to identify the bones and bring the responsible people to court.
In the 1990s, the building right next to the excavation area was used by the Gendarmerie Intelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit (JİTEM), an unofficial wing of the Gendarmerie established in the late 1980s to counter ethnic separatism in south-eastern Turkey. The location is close to the Diyarbakır Closed Prison and the Saraykapı Courthouse. The excavations began on 11 January but had to be interrupted because of heavy weather conditions and health problems of the workers.
A large part of the workers who were appointed by the Provincial Special Administration Directorate had obtained medical reports documenting that they were not able to do "heavy work" due to health problems. Thereupon, the Diyarbakır Public Chief Prosecutor requested the Governor of Diyarbakır in writing to appoint new personnel for the excavation.
20 new workers appointed by the governor resumed digging on Tuesday (24 January). One day later, four more skulls were found. Thus, the total number of skulls found in the mass grave increased to 23.
The bones and skulls found during the previous week were sent to the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Instituted for a DNA analysis. After that, DNA samples of relatives of disappeared persons will be compared with the results in order to be able to identify the remains.
Calling on the government
On 25 January, executives of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Diyarbakır Branch applied to the Diyarbakır Public Chief Prosecution together with 36 families whose relatives went missing in police custody or became victims of unsolved murders.
The families demanded to identify the bones found in the course of the excavations and to find the responsible perpetrators.
İHD Diyarbakır Branch Secretary Raci Bilici said in a statement released before the application was submitted, "Saraykapı, the location where the human bodies were found, is not an ordinary place. This was the place of the JİTEM headquarters where people were being executed".
Furthermore, Bilici announced, "Everyone in the region knows that massacres were done there. The only one who does not know about it is probably the state that did not undertake any investigation despite all our efforts".
"You have all the information at hand - where these people came from, how they were abducted, who disappeared and by whose orders they disappeared. If you wanted to you would be able to disclose all this within 24 hours. However the dimension of this atrocity was revealed by the excavation works, you can still seize this opportunity. We are calling on the Prime Minister and on the Minister of Justice and of the Interior. It does not make sense to wait this dirty issue out any longer" the İHD secretary claimed. (AS/VK)
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