PROGRAM OF EXHUMATION AND IDENTIFICATION OF REMAINS
In July 1997, the late President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr Glafkos Clerides and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mr Rauf Denktash had a meeting under the auspices of the United Nations. At the end of the meeting they reached an agreement concerning measures and initiatives for the solution of the tragic problem of the missing as well as of other persons who were killed and buried in known and unknown burial places.
OF THE REPUBIC OF CYPRUS IN AREAS UNDER ITS CONTROL
The text of the agreement was published and became known as “The Agreement of 1997 of President Clerides and Rauf Denktash for the missing persons”.
Like other agreements that have been reached in the past with the Turkish side on the problem of the missing persons, in this case too, the Turkish side did not cooperate or carried out its obligations for the implementation of the agreement.
Due to the negative attitude of the Turkish side, and the continuing suffering of the families of the missing persons, the Republic of Cyprus decided in 1999, to implement a program of exhumations and identifications of remains in the area under its control.
The objective of the program was and still is, for cases that the answers to the families could be provided by the Republic, the Republic for humanitarian reasons, will proceed to carry out whatever is needed with the objective to terminate the uncertainty and pain endure on a daily basis by the families for so many decades.
For the scientific needs of the program, necessary for the identification of the remains, the Republic of Cyprus proceeded in 1995, and established data bases of genetic and anthropological information collected from the relatives of Greek Cypriots and Greek missing and known dead persons. It should be mentioned that copies of the date bases had been submitted by the Greek Cypriot Member to the CMP for the needs of the program of exhumations and identifications that was initiated by the CMP in 2005.
In 1974, because of the abnormal and prevailing conditions created by the Turkish invasion, but also because of mistakes and other shortcomings, a number of persons who lost their lives during the Turkish invasion, were buried as unknown in the cemeteries of Lakatamia and St Constantine and Helens cemeteries.
The first exhumations, in the framework of the program of the Republic of Cyprus, after relevant decisions by the Council of Ministers, took place from the above cemeteries in the summer of 1999. These, are the first exhumations that took place in Cyprus using scientific methodologies and practices.
The exhumations were carried out by scientists from different countries, members of the non-governmental organization Physicians for Human Rights, under the directorship of the internationally well-known American anthropologist Dr Wiliam Haglund. The genetic examinations and analyses were carried by a team of geneticists of the Cyprus Institute of Neurologist and Genetics, headed by Prof. Dr Marios Cariolou.
The anthropological analyses and the release of the identified remains to the families were carried out at an anthropological laboratory in Nicosia, which was established for this purpose by the Republic of Cyprus.
It should be noted that in the exhumations that followed, a number of Greek Cypriot archaeologists and anthropologists also took part.
In the years that followed the above exhumations, a number of other exhumations of remains of Greek Cypriots as well as Turkish Cypriots took place in the areas under the control of the Republic. These cases are not included in the lists of cases submitted by the Greek Cypriot Member to the CMP.
In the framework of the program, a number of exhumations from family graves also took place in various places of Greece. These exhumations were deemed necessary in order to return remains that were given to Greek families, in the previous years, as belonging to their loved ones. These remains were given to the families as a result of exhumations that were carried out with nonscientific methods or DNA verification.
The majority of these remains, after DNA testing was proved that they did not belong to the loved ones of the families. In the process for most cases the correct remains were located and identified and were released to their families.
The program of the Republic of Cyprus continues. The Government of Cyprus recognizing and respecting the human needs of the families is committed and determine, for cases that is in a position to do so, to give answers to Greek Cypriot as well as Turkish Cypriot families for their loved ones.
What follows are brief introductory notes as well as photographic material concerning some of the exhumations that were carried out in the framework of the program of the Republic of Cyprus.
1. Exhumations from Lakatamia military cemetery and from the cemetery of St Constantine and Helens that took place in 1999
2. Exhumations from the cemetery of St Constantine and Helens concerning the casualties of the Coup D’Etat 2014 and 2015
3. Exhumation of remains from Tymvos Makedonitissas, concerning the NORATLAS military airplane, 2015
4. Exhumation of the remains of the gunboat PHAETHON, from the cemetery of St Constantine and Helens, 2017
5. Exhumations of remains from burial sites in the vicinity of Athalassa mental Hospital, 2017
6. Exhumations from cemeteries in different places in Greece
7. Exhumations from different cemeteries in the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus
8. Exhumations at Pachyammos hospital, which was bombed by the Turkish air force in August 1964