Sunday, July 26, 2015

Season of funerals for `missing persons`…

Season of funerals for `missing persons`…

Sevgul Uludag

Tel: 99 966518

The season of the funerals begins again, this is the season when most of the funerals for the `missing persons` take place – even if remains have been found and families notified, generally relatives wait for the summer season for their relatives abroad to come so they can take part in the funeral… Cypriots are dispersed all over the world, in England, in Australia, in Canada and that is why the funerals of `missing persons` take part more in July and August as relatives come back from abroad for a visit.
I try to go to the funerals of `missing persons` whose remains had been found with the help of my readers – I try to go to the funerals of both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot `missing` and to be with the relatives in this last journey… For me, this is like putting a full stop and some sort of closure… Working and investigating for years, having found so many things about this or that particular `missing` person from their relatives and friends, they become part of me even though I never knew them… If with the help of my readers we have shown the possible burial site and remains have actually been found, then begins a long wait for the work of the Anthropological Laboratory of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee and the results of the DNA analysis.
Sometimes I would call them and ask whether the DNA identification have been done to this or that particular `missing person` who had been found with the help of my readers in this or that particular well. But most of the time, I never learn or rarely learn by coincidence. Most of the relatives of the `missing persons` also never learn about the vital role that my readers have played in the finding of the remains of their beloved `missing person` because this is never told to them. Unless we have been following the whole process together with the family of the `missing person`…
Sometimes we don't know which `missing persons` had been buried in a place we have shown, so naturally we wouldn't have a way of knowing who are their relatives. Therefore only until the DNA analysis is done, the identity of those `missing` would be known but since we are not part of that process with my readers, we wouldn't know and the funerals would take place and we wouldn't find out who those `missing persons` were that we helped to find and the relatives wouldn't know either since they would not be told.
Years ago one of my readers had given me a skull that he had found in Koutsovendis while hunting and had kept it for years. Through my articles he realized that this skull belonged to a `missing person`, that it was human, not a memorabilia to keep. So he called me midnight one day and told me that he wanted to give the skull back. We met the next morning and I took the skull and on the same day gave it to the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee. I would also convince him to show us where he took this skull from and we would go with him and he would show the archaeologists the area from which he took the skull from. I wondered for years to whom this skull belonged to. Almost every month I would ask whether DNA identification had been done. But I only found out a month after the funeral that the DNA identification had been done, the skull returned to the family and that the funeral took place. It belonged to a young Greek Cypriot from
Alambra and his wife took the remains and buried… Maybe I will find the opportunity to visit his wife one day…
Sometimes I would read about the funeral of a `missing person` that we helped to find in the newspapers. Sometimes the relatives call me and invite me to the funeral and I try to go to those funerals and put some soil and say my belated condolences to the family, the condolences due for 40 or 50 years… Sometimes even this is not possible like it happened with the Rahmi family who had been killed and buried in a well in Livera. With the help of my Greek Cypriot readers I had shown twice to the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee the possible burial site of this Turkish Cypriot family from Vasilia and wrote their story. They had been a family of seven – five of them kids. They had gone to work for a Greek Cypriot in Livera and were killed in December 1963 and buried in a well… Since there had been no news about the funeral, I could not go… But in spirit I was at that funeral…
There are two funerals in the following weeks of two `missing` persons, one Turkish Cypriot and the other a Greek Cypriot that I will attend. It was my readers who helped to find their burial site… Mehmet Abdurrahman Chatallo will be buried on the 22nd of July in Nicosia and Michalis Pekri will be buried on the 9th of August in Kalo Chorio. I will try to go to both funerals.
Mehmet Abdurrahman Chatallo had been killed in 1974 in Polis and one of my readers, the relative of a `missing person` from Polis, Unay Pasha helped me to find the person who had buried him, as well as others. Shevket Rado from Polis, despite his old age and poor health would agree to come with me and the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee to Polis to show us the burial sites in October 2013. In one spot where he showed, the remains of three `missing persons` were found and in another spot, another `missing person`, a total of four `missing` Turkish Cypriots from Polis from 1974.
I had worked quite a bit investigating about the disappearance of Michalis Pekri from Vatyli and had gone to interview his wife Christina back in 2009. With the help of my readers, I had shown in those years to the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee, his possible burial site – it was a well… Many years passed until the exhumations began and at the depth of 33 meters, down in the well, his remains had been found. Now his remains are being returned to his family for burial and there will be the funeral of `missing` Michalis Pekri on the 9th of August Sunday at 10.00 at Kalo Chorio (Vuda) at the St. Raphael Church. I will try to attend this funeral – I called the daughter of `missing` Pekri, Maria and she sounded sad… They had gone to see the remains of her father in the laboratory and what came out of the well: the buttons of his shirt, his pants, his shoes… Pekri had eight kids and a farm… He was killed by his Turkish Cypriot
`friends` since they had `shared` his animals, cows, that they did not want to return to Pekri… 41 years after `missing` from Vatyli, now he will be buried in Kalo Chorio where his family had to become refugees and I will go there to put some soil on his grave, as though putting the last full stop on my investigations about him.
I would like to thank from the heart all my readers, both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot who have shown their humanity in this whole process… With your help remains of many `missing persons` have been found and are being returned to their relatives for burial – many many thanks from my heart…


Photo: `Missing' Michalis Pekri will be buried on the 9th of August 2015 Sunday.

(*) Article published in the POLITIS newspaper on the 26th of July 2015, Sunday.

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