Sunday, September 23, 2018

Letters from Sweden…

Letters from Sweden…

Sevgul Uludag

Tel: 99 966518

Back in 2009, I had met a Swedish person by coincidence and after speaking with him for a while about `missing persons`, he decided that he could help me by looking at the archives of Sweden when he would go back… Apparently the military archives of Sweden were open to public, so he had no problem going and searching he had told me… And he would look into the archives of Swedish UN Force in Cyprus and would send me what he would find…
After a short while he sent me what he found and I shared this with my readers, as well as with the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee at that time…
Today I want to share with you the letters I had got from Sweden… It is quite interesting that although the UN has been represented in the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee as the Third Member, it took them about 50 years to decide to share what was in their archives, after some demands from the CMP… Imagine this: You have a high level representative that you have appointed as the UN sitting as the Third Member of CMP together with the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot members of the CMP since 1981 and he would have no `permission` to share or no `access` to what the UN had in their archives… Only quite recently when all members of CMP started a process of demanding information from various countries and organizations and institutions involved in Cyprus, asking to look into their archives, the UN finally decided that they can allow CMP to look in those archives… After half a century of keeping the information to themselves, finally UN is sharing…
The Swedish friend who helped me back in 2009 could access information from the archives of Sweden about their UN unit stationed in Cyprus in 1974…
I could get this information through the help of a friend as an investigative journalist, but the UN would not share it voluntarily with the committee until quite recently… How does this make sense to you?
Instead of taking things at face value, so to say, we need to question everyone connected with Cyprus about why they did not share what they knew or what they had and why they did not open paths for truth to come out… We need to think about it and find the reasons behind this…
One friend who is working for the UN, when I questioned him about this tried to explain it to me that `this was due to the bureaucracy within the UN system and that they did not want to get into trouble by giving this or that information etc.` Perhaps this is true, perhaps it is not. I do not know since I do not work within the UN system to truly understand how it works or it doesn't… But what's important here is the pain and suffering of relatives of `missing persons` - they have been waiting for more than four or five decades about any information concerning their `missing` relative… For me it is a crime not to share what you know and what you have since you help the suffering and the torture of the civilians waiting to know the truth…
Whoever did not and would not share what they know, whether it is the UN or the three `guarantors` of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and the UK, cannot escape the responsibility for the suffering of our people… And the same goes for the Cypriots themselves – the police forces in both sides, the military forces in both sides, the civilians who participated in the burials because they were ordered to do that, people who know but would not speak for this or that reason because of various pretexts they have, are all helping the continuity of the torture of the relatives of `missing persons`… It is clear in my mind that they all carry the responsibility for the suffering in Cyprus to continue and for not helping to create a better place for our children to live in…

The letters from Sweden…
Here are some of the letters I had received from my friend in Sweden back in 2009 and 2010:
"17 November 2009
Dear Sevgul,
It was nice to see you today. Below you will find the information I mentioned.
Last year, after reading about the 1974 discoveries of mass graves in the villages of Aloa and Maratha in a book about the Swedish UN force in Cyprus, I contacted the Swedish Military Archives to see if there was some information in the archives of the Swedish UN contingent present in the area at the time. I received copies of relevant documents, some in Swedish and some in English. Some of them are difficult to read because of low paper and text quality. The Military Archives also informed me that there might be relevant information elsewhere in the archives. Find below a summary of the documents (which I gave to the CMP last year). I have kept the original abbreviations of the reports in the summaries.

In the monthly report for August 1974 by the District Commander of Famagusta District, S Kristensson, (Cyprus Report 129/74; dated September 14, 1974; in Swedish) we learn that Swedish Civil Police were asked to come to the TK CYP village of Aloa on August 19 to investigate a mass grave. NAT TK had excavated the grave and showed the Swedes four bodies, including one child, and closed it thereafter. The excavators claimed there was some 30 bodies in the grave. The Swedes wanted to have the whole grave excavated, to be able to establish the exact number of bodies and their identity, but were not permitted. No follow-up was therefore possible.
In the memo "Violations against the declaration of human rights" by the District Commander of Famagusta District, S Kristensson, to the UNFICYP Force Commander (dated August 23 1974; in English; attached), we can read that the number of bodies in the Aloa mass grave was stated to be 57 but only 5 bodies were shown. We can also read that request of UN investigation was denied and that an investigation was considered important and necessary to prove the number of bodies and their nationality.

In the monthly report for September 1974 by the District Commander of Famagusta District, S Kristensson, (Cyprus Report 130/74; dated October 9, 1974; in Swedish) we learn that TK discovered a mass grave outside the village of Maratha in the beginning of the month (September 1, 1974). Swedish Civil Police was allowed to take part in the investigation, which was not the case in Aloa. 82 bodies were excavated, most of which in a state that made identification impossible.
There are also three separate reports about the mass grave in Maratha:
- One report in Swedish by Sergeant Major/Military Police Örjan Norlin (dated September 2, 1974). The report describes Norlin's visit to the site of the mass grave on September 1, 1974. Some details about the decay of the bodies and that the victims had been tied and blindfolded. One of the Turkish Cypriots present identified his 95-year old father and his 9-year old nephew (his sister's son) among the bodies. One more body, a woman, was identified by a person present, and all three was said to come from Maratha. The mukhtar of Maratha gave the information that the events in Maratha started before dawn August 14-15, 1974.
- One report in Swedish with no date and no signature. However, it describes the work at the site on September 3, 1974 and the writer and his colleagues were present to protect the CIVPOL. Some details about decayed bodies etc. It says there was 82 bodies (the figure based on the heads) in the mass grave and that you could suspect that two more children "had met the same cruel destiny".
- One report in English by Chief Inspector Lars Håkanson (dated September 4-5, 1974; attached) with many details, e.g. names of identified excavated bodies. Photos, sketches and name lists in annex (attached).

Other Mass Graves
The documents about Aloa and Maratha hint there might be more information about other mass graves/missing persons in the Swedish Military Archives.
In the monthly report for August 1974 by the District Commander of Famagusta District, S Kristensson, (Cyprus Report 129/74; dated September 14, 1974; in Swedish) we find the following information concerning the civil police:
"A great deal of time has been spent investigating discovered mass graves, murders and rapes."
"On August 18 SWEDCIVPOL went to the village of Avgorou. Two men told them that they, and some 25 other GK CYP, were arrested by TK in their homes the day before. They were taken to a place close to Prastio where elderly men, women and children were released. 15 men remained on the truck used for the transport but two of these were released on request of some TK CYP. The remaining 13 were then taken towards Famagusta. Just outside the village of Styllos the car stopped and four of the men were ordered to get off and into a ruin. In the ruin they were shot to death. The truck thereafter continued a bit and then another four men were ordered off the truck. These were also shot. The two witnesses managed to run away from the truck and escape in the dark."
In the memo "Violations against the declaration of human rights" by the District Commander of Famagusta District, S Kristensson, to the UNFICYP Force Commander (dated August 23 1974; in English; attached), says that reports of violations of against human rights after August 15 1974 are enclosed. However, I never got these documents from the Military Archives since they don't contain any information about Aloa or Maratha. In the same document it is also suggested that the Aloa investigation should be carried out parallel to the investigation of "the crime in Prastio".
If you have any questions or would need some clarification don't hesitate to ask me and please let me know if I can be of any assistance with further research in the Swedish Military Archives…"

8 February 2010
"Dear Sevgul,
Last week … I took two days off to check what kind of information there might be in the Swedish UN archives.
Since the archives are enormous and I didn't have much time I decided to focus on the period in connection with the war of 1974. I'm sure there is information about the missing persons from before 1974 as well, but this is probably spread out throughout the archives.
There are two relevant archives:
1. The archives of the Swedish UN Battalions (at the Swedish Military Archives)
2. The archives of the Swedish Civil Police (at the National Police Board)
1. The archives of the Swedish UN Battalions (at the Swedish Military Archives)
At the Military Archives I had full access to the documents. I was sitting in the middle of all the files and was allowed to help myself to whatever I wanted to read. Here I found a couple of things that might be of interest to you. One is the "Cyprus Reports" ("Cypernrapporter") - monthly summaries in Swedish about what's been going on in the Swedish battalion (the Swedish civil police included). Another one is the "Summaries" in English from HQ UNFICYP. I also found the Maratha-report I sent you earlier but that was the only one of that kind.
2. The archives of the Swedish Civil Police (at the National Police Board)
At the National Police Board I did not have full access and everything I wanted to read had to be checked by the staff. Before I came they had checked the file "Missing Persons" - a file of the persons reported missing in the Swedish sector in 1974. It's one document for each missing person, sometimes a short description of the circumstances and sometimes a photo of the missing. In the archives I also found the heading "Investigation Reports" and I asked to see those. Unfortunately, there was nobody there to give me OK to read those documents, so I asked them to check all the reports about mass graves etc (and named some mass graves I knew the Swedes were investigating - Aloa, Maratha, Styllos and Ayios Memnon) and send me copies.
The staff at both archives was very helpful.
I have copies of some documents you might find interesting. I will scan them and send them to you.
If there should happen to be any event that took place in the Swedish sector and about which you would need more information about, the Swedish UN archives might be able to give you some information. Just let me know if I can be of any help, either as a link between you and the staff at the archives or doing some research myself in Stockholm…"


Photo: An UNFICYP soldier watching as the mass graves are exhumed in Maratha back in 1974...

(*) Article published in the POLITIS newspaper on the 23rd of September 2018, Sunday. I had translated these letters to Turkish and published them in Yenidüzen newspaper back in 2009 on my pages called "Cyprus: The Untold Stories..." and had also shared this information with all the three members of CMP (Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot and the Third Member appointed by the UN) at that time...

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