Relatives of Assia missing seek to establish the fate of their loved ones

Relatives of Assia missing seek to establish the fate of their loved ones

Relatives of 106 persons from the village of Assia, who went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, have appealed to all interested parties to act in the direction of Ankara in order to help locate their next of kin, whose remains have been unearthed and reburied at different locations.

The Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons of Assia, in an open letter, strongly requests from all interested parties who are in position to exercise their influence to convince Turkey to cooperate fully and provide detailed information as to the new burial site of their missing relatives, who were murdered in Ornithi, as well as the remaining 22 cases for which no information has been made available.

“Turkey has the responsibility to provide the families with information regarding the circumstances they have met their death, the cause of death and those responsible for their death” says the letter.

The Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) must be encouraged to show more respect to the needs of the families of the missing persons.

“The CMP must be deterred from simply closing these cases on purely technical grounds, i.e. the finding of DNA. The CMP mandate did not foresee the intentional and organised removal of remains to new locations and therefore their mandate must be expanded to include these cases as a separate category that should remain open until each case is fully resolved. The mission of the CMP cannot be considered as accomplished by delivering small bone fragments to the families of the missing persons,” the letter points out.

It notes that practically every family in Assia has been affected by this great tragedy for the past four decades and families are definitely entitled and deserve humane treatment.

“It is our strong conviction that if properly managed the resolution of the humanitarian issue of the missing persons of Cyprus can lead to the ease of pain for the families and promote reconciliation among the Greek and Turkish Cypriot Communities. On the contrary, the lack of cooperation from the Turkish side simply acts to reinforce and propagate the divisions and mistrust into the future” say relatives of the missing persons of Assia.

In total 106 individuals aged 11 – 84, including 10 youths under the age of 18, who were captured in Assia disappeared and went missing after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. 98 of those were civilians and 8 reservists.

In the spring of 2009, the CMP conducted a search in the Ornithi area on the outskirts of Afania village, situated about 4 km west of Assia, which lasted for more than a year. Four burial sites were disinterred, two of which were water wells and the sites of mass graves. The remains identified by DNA testing in those two mass graves have confirmed that they belong to the list of 70 civilians who were captured in Assia on 21 August 1974.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.