Γραφείο Επιτρόπου Προεδρίας

EXHUMATIONS FROM THE MILITARY CEMETERY OF LAKATAMIA AND FROM THE ST. CONSTANTINE AND HELEN'S CEMETERY




EXHUMATIONS FROM THE MILITARY CEMETERY OF LAKATAMIA AND FROM THE ST CONSTANTINE AND HELENS CEMETERY


In 1999, the Council of Ministers decided to implement a program of exhumations and identifications of remains from the Lakatamia military cemetery and from the St Constantine and Helens cemetery.

In the summer of 1974, a number of persons, civilians and military, who lost their lives during and as a result of the Turkish invasion were buried in the above cemeteries.

The burials, due to the prevailing conditions, were carried out in multiple graves and in most cases without the establishment of the identity of the persons buried.

As a result, in the years that followed a number of graves that had been erected were marked as unknown.

In view of the progress in the field of genetics, and the negative position of the Turkish side to the efforts to solve the tragedy of the missing persons in Cyprus, the Government of the Republic decided to carry out the above exhumations for purely humanitarian reasons. The objective was to give answers to the families about the fate of their loves ones as well as for the dead to have a dignified burial, according to religious and social customs.

The exhumations and anthropological analyses were carried out by scientists from various countries, members of the nongovernmental organization Physicians for Human Rights, who operated under the directorship of the internationally well-known anthropologist Dr William Haglund.

To address the needs of the anthropological analyses the Republic of Cyprus established and equipped an anthropological laboratory in Nicosia.

The genetic analyses and identifications were carried out in Cyprus at the Institute of Neurology and Genetics, by a team of geneticists headed by Prof. Dr Marios Cariolou.

The National Guard also contributed by providing technical support during the exhumations.

The exhumations were the first to be carried out in Cyprus utilizing internationally accepted and established scientific methodologies and practices.

During the exhumations it was scientifically established that the burials in 1974 took place in an unorthodox and haphazard way. Also, to the surprise of the scientists, a number of skeletal elements were located that indicated previous exhumations. O the basis of these findings, the competent authorities carried out investigations and established that in the period 1979-81, exhumations of remains believed to belong to Greek nationals, took place. Some of the remains were given to Greek families as belonging to their loved ones. The rest of the remains were put and kept in a specially constructed ossuary at Tymvos Makedonitissas.

It should also be noted that because of the previous exhumations, as well as of the unorthodox burials, the remains exhumed, in nearly all cases, were commingled. Moreover, there was no correspondence between what was written on the headstone of the grave and what was located under the grave during the exhumation.

Despite the problems and the difficulties, with the help of the scientists nearly all the exhumed remains were identified and released to the families except the remains of the ossuary at Tymvos. As it was established in the following years these remains were treated with chemicals and as a result they cannot provide good quality and enough quantity DNA necessary for their identifications. The Government of Cyprus continue its efforts to solve the scientific problems that prevent the identification of these remains.

At the conclusion of the exhumations, in coordination with the Ministry of Defense, the areas in the above cemeteries from where the exhumations took place have been restored to the previous state.


THE MILITARY CEMETERY OF LAKATAMIA



One of the very few photographs that exist concerning the burials in the cemetery of Lakatamia in July and August 1974.






A religious ceremony at Lakatamia cemetery after the construction of graves.




The exhumations carried out in the period 1979-81 without the application of scientific methodologies and practices.






A map depicting the areas that remains were exhumed during the period 1979-81.






Members of the National Guard who assisted the excavations as well as foreign scientists of the PHR team.






Members of the PHR team who carried out the first ever exhumations in Cyprus.

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