|Introduction to the Missing Cypriots Issue|
In the summer of 1974, Turkish troops invaded and occupied more than a third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus. Over the years those who lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods have begun the painful process of rebuilding their shattered lives. But for us, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, the sisters and the children of the missing, the passage of time has deepened, rather than healed the wounds inflicted by the Turkish invasion.
There are 1587 missing persons, our relatives. This number includes not only soldiers, but also a large number of civilians and among them women and children, who disappeared consequent to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. These missing Greek Cypriots were arrested by the Turkish army and/or by Turkish Cypriots under the control and command of Turkey's armed forces. Subsequent to their arrest, a number of them were transported to Turkey and were kept as prisoners in Turkish jails. Since 1974, despite our appeals to the Turkish Government and to other International Organizations, and contrary to International Law and Human Rights Conventions, Turkey refuses to provide us with any information about the fate of our loved ones. Instead, the Turkish Government is insisting that it knows nothing about the fate of our relatives, and furthermore, that no Greek Cypriot missing persons are held.
Turkey’s claims, however, are not supported by any facts. During discussions in the presence of UN and ICRC Representatives, on the few occasions when the Turkish side was compelled to accept unannounced visits to places where according to information Greek Cypriots were to be found, several Greek Cypriot missing persons were found imprisoned in the Turkish occupied areas. For example, on 20 November 1974, the following persons were found after one such visit:
(a) George Kaiser of Kyrenia
(b) Michael Frangopoulos of Bellapais
(c) Michael Ponticou of Morphou
(d) Cleanthis Charalambous of Lakatamia
(e) Andreas Katsouris of Stylli, Famagusta
Similarly on 7 August 1975, Charalambos Moschovias of Achna and Stelios Gregorakis of Ayia Trias were found in the same way. Finally, on 25 October 1976, Lambros Plitsis from Larissa, Greece, was also found.
There is hard and indisputable evidence establishing, beyond any doubt, that the disappeared persons were alive and well at the time of their arrest by the Turkish army. This evidence is founded on:
Eye witness accounts and sworn testimonies stating that a large number of the missing were arrested by Turkish military personnel after the cessation of hostilities.
Sighting in captivity in mainland Turkish prisons and other detention centers in the occupied part of Cyprus.
Photographic evidence from the Turkish and international press showing clearly identifiable missing persons in the custody of Turkish troops both in Cyprus and in mainland Turkish jails.
Messages from missing persons which were broadcasted by Turkish radio after their arrest.
Red Cross lists including the names of missing persons compiled during visits in Turkish detention centers.
In 1975, the Human Rights Organization, Amnesty International, presented the Turkish Government with a list of 40 missing persons about whom it has compiled evidence pointing to their presence in mainland Turkish prisons. No response to Amnesty's demands for an account was ever received from the Turkish Government. Turkey is constantly rejecting the efforts of humanitarian bodies, and blocks attempts by the international community to investigate the fate of our disappeared relatives. Although a Committee on Missing Persons was set up under the auspices of the United Nations in 1981, the Turkish Government is not represented and does not participate in its proceedings. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Committee, after so many years of investigations, has failed to determine the fate of a single disappeared person and to inform the family concerned accordingly.
These have been noted by the Secretary General of the United Nations, who in an effort to make the Committee effective, suggested to both sides to submit all cases in order to group them and continue investigations in a more systematic manner. He also called for urgent consultations to reach consensus on the criteria for the decisions to be taken after the investigations. These suggestions were included in his November 1993 report to the Security Council, S/26777.
The relatives of the missing appreciate and view positively the initiative of the Secretary General and hope that progress will be achieved soon, and the needed convincing information will be presented, to allow the full determination of the fate of all missing persons in Cyprus. To this end the cooperation of all concerned is needed, particularly from the Turkish side, which must, at last, decide to reveal the information in its possession on what happened to our loved ones after their disappearance.
It would indeed be very disappointing if the Turkish side does not respond to this important initiative by the Secretary General with a new spirit, and does not abandon its strategy of arriding the presentation of the necessary elements concerning the fate of the missing per- sons, arguing instead for a cover up exercise based on summary presumptive proceedings.
The Turkish Government, in its refusal to recognize its obligation to account for the fate of Greek Cypriots held in its custody, is guilty of one of the most heinous crimes against humanity – the crime of enforced disappearance; a crime which has been recognized internationally, and is not subject to time limitation. The Verde Report, which was submitted on September 1984 to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, states:
"Enforced disappearance is one of the most serious violations of the human rights safeguarded by international instruments: it in- fringes virtually on all the victims' personal rights and many of the rights of their families. The violations... cannot be justified by special circumstances, whether armed conflict, state of emergency or internal unrest or tension."
This ongoing crime is a stain on Turkey's international reputation. More importantly, it is a crime which perpetuates the sufferings of the missing and their families, a crime which constitutes the most flagrant violation of the basic and fundamental human rights of both the missing persons and us, their families.
The latest specific expression of concern by the American Congress about the missing persons of 1974 is a welcome development. President Clinton in October 1994, has signed into law congressional legislation P.L. 103-372, "...which mandates the Administration... to conduct an investigation... of the whereabouts of five US citizens missing in Cyprus since 1974". The speedy and effective implementation of this law must result in the full accounting of what happened to the five Cypriots with American citizenship and lead to their return to their families "...including returning the remains of those who are no longer alive". More over, "... the legislation requires that any information concerning the whereabouts of others missing in Cyprus learned or discovered during this investigation shall be reported...".
Our one and only demand is a profoundly human one. It is a simple demand for the full restoration and respect of the basic and fundamental human rights of the missing persons and ourselves.|
IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK?