Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou discussed on Tuesday with the members of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances the difficulties and challenges faced in resolving the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus.
According to a press release by Cyprus’ Press and Information Office, the meeting, that took place in Photiou’s office, focused on the problems, difficulties and challenges faced as regards efforts to resolve the missing persons issue.
Photiou stressed that it was inhumane but also unacceptable that 48 years on, there are still hundreds of families of missing persons, who are looking for answers about what happened to their loved ones.
This unacceptable situation causes so much pain and misery to families every day, something that cannot and should not continue, he added. He pointed out that parents and siblings of missing persons are dying without knowing the fate of their loved ones.
The international community, Photiou pointed out, especially the United Nations, is able to take humanitarian initiatives and actions to resolve the problems faced and provide the answers that the families are looking for and deserve.
He said, according to the press release, that the problems are many and complex. He added that the source of these problems is Turkey, which is responsible not only for creating the problem but also for its perpetuation, serving its own political goals and expediencies to the detriment of the families.
The Commissioner stated that Turkey has so far not taken the political and humanitarian decisions that will lead to progress. Turkey, he stressed, is able and can help effectively and efficiently in solving these problems because they have been created and are maintained due to its own attitude and intransigence.
Photiou referred to the obstacles posed by the occupying force for research and exhumations in military zones, its refusal to pass on information from its military archives, to indicate the mass burial sites created by the Turkish army after the collection of dead bodies from the battlefields and to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights of 2001 and 2014, as well as other decisions concerning individual appeals of families of missing persons.
A special reference, it is added, was made by the Commissioner “to the major double crime” of the destruction of mass graves by the Turkish army and the deliberate movement of the remains to unknown places.
The Commissioner reiterated the need for the United Nations to undertake humanitarian initiatives and actions to promote the issue of the missing persons.
The Republic of Cyprus, he said, is cooperating and intensifying its efforts in order to provide answers to every family of a Turkish Cypriot or a Greek Cypriot missing person.
Extensive reference was made to the exhumation programme of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as to the major issue of people who were killed and who were buried in known and unknown places in the Turkish occupied areas.
A Committee on Missing Persons has been 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 in 1974.
According to statistical data published on the CMP website by December 31, 2021 out of 2,002 missing persons 1,183 have been exhumed and 1,023 were identified.