Despite government efforts, over 750 Greek Cypriots remain missing since the Turkish invasion of 1974 and 1964 inter-communal strife, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said on Tuesday.
From a total of 2,002 Greek and Turkish Cypriots listed as missing, only 1,027 have been identified and returned.
Speaking during a meeting with high school students and teachers in Nicosia, Photiou noted that families of missing persons continue to experience the pain of not knowing the fate of their beloved, and Turkey should not be allowed to continue this “brutal and inhumane treatment”.
He said while the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) project for the exhumation, identification, and return of remains of the missing has been going on for more than 17 years, the fate of more than 750 missing persons remains unknown, 50% of the cases reported.
Photiou said that the occupation army continues not to allow access to its archives, where “there is for sure information about the missing persons and the serious case related to the deliberate relocation of remains from the initial burial sites which remain unknown to us.”
He argued this relocation aimed at concealing the “guilt and the truth” about the mass killings of people captured and killed in cold blood.
“Due to this barbaric policy, many families of missing persons receive just one or some bones of their loved ones for burial; this is inhumane and unacceptable.”
Turkey is blamed for refusing to allow unhindered excavations in places within the so-called military zones in the occupied north and the refusal of Ankara to indicate the mass graves where people collected from the battlefield were buried.
“Despite Turkey’s refusal to cooperate and the obstacles and difficulties it continuously creates, we are not complacent, and we will not give in without establishing the fate of each missing person”.
The UN-backed CMP was established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying, and returning to their relatives the remains of 492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963-1964 and the 1974 invasion.
Some 774 Greek Cypriots are still missing – mostly since 1974 – and 200 Turkish Cypriots – many since 1964.