Sunday, November 23, 2014
Wonderful readers finding courage to speak…
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My wonderful readers continue to call and write to me, giving hope for a better terrain for the future… One of my readers who had shown us a possible burial site near the old Grammar School where five `missing persons` had been buried near a small church calls me:
`I have spoken again with the guy who witnessed it all` he says, `and I found out that they had covered the bodies first with lamarina and then put soil over it…`
This is very good information since if and when `permission` is given for excavations in this military area, it would make things easier for the excavation team of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee… Because metal would show on a mine search, it would be easier to identify the exact location of the possible burial site…
Back in November last year, this reader had shown us from a high building the exact location of the little church… This had been the area where ELDYK and TURDYK had confronted each other back in 1974… We could not enter the area since it was a Turkish military zone but we could see the little church from a tall building from the southern part of Nicosia… According to my reader, the entrance of the little church was facing the north…
`If you face the north standing at the entrance of the church, fifteen steps to the north, you would find the burial site of four or five soldiers who had been killed in the war.`
Now he is giving new information that at the burial site, those who had buried these five `missing` Greek Cypriots and/or Greeks had used lamarina to cover them first, and then had put soil on top of them… The possible burial site is just outside the church, a few meters from the entrance… I thank him for this information and pass it onto the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee so that they know if and when they get `permission` to dig here…
Another burial site that my readers had been telling me about in another military area on the shores of Lapithos has finally got `permission` to be dug… Starting from mid-2000s my readers had been calling and giving information about a possible burial site in a fenced military area on the shore… I had informed the officials of the CMP about this possible burial site and also had written about this area starting from 2008, finding witnesses who had seen human remains while the area was being fenced off… I had found witnesses who had worked during the fencing of the area who had seen human remains… Finally after so many years, the CMP gets `permission` from the Turkish military to dig in this area and even during the time spent for searching for mines before excavations, human remains are found on the surface… I feel relief because one more place where my readers have insisted that people had been buried is being excavated… There had been
various stories about this fenced area on the shores of Lapithos: That here was buried a lot of Greek Cypriots who had been killed during fighting in 1974… Some of my readers had claimed that the bodies buried here were brought from Vasilia and Lapithos, those killed in fighting in 1974… I hold my breath: I hope that this area has not been `emptied` and hopefully they will find the remains here…
Another reader comes to speak to me – it took her many years to tell me what she knows and I appreciate her courage to decide finally to speak to me…
`In 1974, in Agios Georgios Kyrenia, in the garden of a two storey house, a mass burial site had been uncovered… A family who had been refugees had been given this house and when they tried to plant something in the garden, they saw human remains all over the garden. Wherever they dug to plant something, human remains were coming out… If you are going from Kyrenia towards Lapithos, it's on the shore, as soon as you pass the open air military museum, it's just next to it, a two storey house. In those days, the ones who lived in this house had notified authorities about this mass burial site and immediately they were evacuated from this house and placed in another house. They were telling me that afterwards, they put pebble stones and cement in the area where they had seen remains and on top tanks and other war memorabilia were placed. Please investigate what happened to the remains…`
I call a Turkish Cypriot official of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee and find out that in 2002 before the open air military museum was built close to this house, there had been exhumations in the area by the Turkish Cypriot antiquities department… The military had called them and told them that they would build a museum there so they should come and remove the remains. Remains of 6 or 7 people were found and later on when the CMP started working in 2006 these remains were given to CMP, they were identified with DNA and returned to the relatives for burial. But there is no information whether the excavations done here back in 2002 were extensive enough to cover the garden of the two storey house that my reader is talking about. We don't know if the remains of all those buried here were uncovered… Since it is the area where the war began in 1974, perhaps the committee would investigate again the garden of the house my reader is talking
about… I notify the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee about this reader's information… They can decide whether they want to investigate or not… Our humanitarian mission is to pass all information that our readers find the courage to tell us, so that proper investigation can be done by the CMP…
I thank all my readers for sharing valuable information to help pave the way for a less painful future…
LETTER FROM A READER
I receive a very touching letter from Victoria Koutalistra Stavrou, the youngest daughter of `missing` Christos Antoni Koutalistra whose story we had published here in POLITIS as well as YENIDUZEN… She says:
`Dear Mrs Uludag,
I have read in Politis newspaper the article you wrote about my father, Christos Antoni Koutalistra, and I would like to thank you and to express my gratitude for all your efforts and caring. I would also like to thank your readers for their precious help and for all the information they gave us about my father, who has been missing since August 1974.
I am Christos' youngest daughter and the pain that my family and I had suffered for 40 years cannot be described. Down deep inside I was hoping that my father was alive... I needed to believe that he was somewhere, out there alive. Your research findings put an end to all our hopes but at the same time my heart flooded with joy because I realized that kindness and compassion still exists in people's hearts.
I make a plea to the people who know where the remains of my father are to help us find the place in order to make an excavation and give our father a proper burial. This will close a 40-year-circle of pain and suffering. If you are reading this and you have any information, please do drop us a line - anonymously - or send a picture of the burial place if possible. It would be much appreciated. We really wish to bury him somewhere close, to take care of his grave, to light him a candle... We do not seek vengeance or hold a grudge against the person who shot my father or his descendants. It was a very difficult period for both communities and we all had suffered a lot. Let's put an end to this drama.
Thanking you in advance,
Victoria Koutalistra Stavrou`
Photo: The little church in the military area near the Grammar School...
(*) Article published in the POLITIS newspaper on the 23rd of November 2014, Sunday.