The humanitarian problem of the missing persons in Cyprus, could be described as the most tragic issue of all. Altogether 1,619 Greek Cypriots including civilians, women, children and old people - who in most cases were seen alive in the hands of the Turks well after the cessation of hostilities, in August 1974, have not been seen since and their fate remains unknown.
Considering that the Greek Cypriot population at the time numbered only 530,000, this figure is excessively large. If we were to calulate the number of American missing persons during the eight-year Vietnam war by analogy to the missing persons of Cyprus in relation to its population, then this number would be approximately 750,000.
There is indisputable evidence that most of those who never returned were detained by Turkish soldiers and/or armed Turkish Cypriot elements under the command and control of the Turkish Army during the Turkish invasion. Evidence that Greek Cypriots were captured and held in concentration camps was not disputed even by the Turkish side. The Turkish authorities themselves had issued lists of Greek Cypriot prisoners of war but subsequently some of these people were never released and yet no explanation on the part of Turkey has been forthcoming.
There were also people who were listed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.) as prisoners of war or as enclaved persons in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus but who were not released. Greek Cypriot prisoners who had sent messages to their families over the illegal Turkish Cypriot radio "Bayrak" are still missing. Other missing persons were identified in photographs in Turkish newspapers.
The U.N. General Assembly in its Resolution 3450 of 9 December 1975, expressed concern "about the fate of a considerable number of Cypriots who are missing as a result of armed conflict in Cyprus" and reaffirmed the basic human need of their families in Cyprus to be informed about the fate of their missing relatives.
Despite repeated appeals by the Government of Cyprus and the relatives of the missing persons and a number of International Organisations to the Turkish Government, Turkey, contrary to International Law and in particular the provisions of International Human Rights Instruments refuses to provide any information about the fate of the 1,619 missing Greek Cypriots. Instead, the Turkish Government insists that they must be considered dead, without evidence. Turkey's negative approach to the issue explains to a great extent the lack of any progress in the efforts for resolving the issue pursued through the Committee on Missing Persons established in 1981 and operating in accordance with the relevant UN General Assembly Resolutions.
Turkey's insistence that it knows nothing about the fate of the missing persons and that no Greek Cypriots are held is not supported by any facts. On the few occasions where the Turkish side was compelled to accept during discussions in the presence of UN and ICRC Representatives - unanounced visits to places where according to information Greek Cypriots were to be found, several Greek Cypriot "missing" persons were found imprisoned in the areas occupied by the Turkish Army.
In 1975, the Human Rights Organization Amnesty International, presented the Turkish Government with a list of 40 missing persons about whom it had compiled such evidence which, in most cases, points to their presence in Turkish prisons. No response to Amnesty's demand for an account was ever received from the Turkish Government.
The European Commission of Human Rights of the Council of Europe in its report which was adopted on 10 July 1976, on the violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus, found Turkey responsible under the Convention on the issue of the missing persons. The Commission concluded that:
"There is a presumption of Turkish responsibility for the fate of persons shown to have been in Turkish custody. However, on the basis of the material before it, the Commission has been unable to ascertain whether and under what circumstances Greek Cypriot prisoners declared to be `missing' have been deprived of their life".
Turkey's refusal to provide the families of the missing persons with any information about the fate of their relatives is also in contravention to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Human Rights Conventions.
Faced with a stalemate, the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly took up the issue of the missing persons in December 1982 and adopted a new resolution in which it expressed concern over the lack of progress towards the commencement of the investigative work of the Committee on Missing Persons and invited the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the Commission on Human Rights to recommend ways and means of overcoming the pending procedural difficulties.
The Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, reacted strongly to the adoption of this resolution and stated that it was binding on the Turkish Cypriot side.
The political Affairs Committee of the European Parliament also took up the issue of the missing persons, following a report by the British Europarliamentarian Lady Elles, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Rapporteur of the Political Committee of the European Parliament on Questions of Missing Persons.
On 11 January 1983 the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution on the situation in Cyprus in which it "emphasizes that the families of the missing people have a right to know the truth and urges the Foreign Ministers meeting in political cooperation to redouble their efforts to find a positive solution", to this humanitarian problem. Furthermore, it "draws the Minister's attention to the need to find a final solution to this painful problem without delay, particularly through the release of those missing people who might be detained in prison".
The need to resolve this purely humanitarian issue as quickly as possible was underlined by the Special Coordinator on Cyprus at the State Department. Ambassador Ledsky, who recently stated that "I think it is high time that the missing persons issue was resolved".
The C.M.P. in its April 11, 1990, extensive Communique recognizes that no real progress has been made in the results of its work and appealed to all concerned to pursue with renewed vigour their assistance so that the Committee can accomplish its humanitarian mission. What is required is conclusive evidence and information that would enable the Committee to reach conclusions which would be convincing to the families concerning the fate of their loved ones as well as to the international community.
"Milliyet Halk Gazetesi"
23 Haziran 1976
Translation of the Article in Milliyet.
In the issue of the Instanbul daily, Milliyet of 23rd June, 1976 (page 5) Mr Mehmet Ali Birand, the Turkish journalist who visited Cyprus, writes under the heading ALLOW US TO SEARCH FOR THE MISSING PERSONS:
"One of the problems created after the war is the missing Greek Cypriots" question. In order to find these missing persons the Greeks have formed a Committee. Formed after the pattern of similar committees during the British administration of Cyprus, the Committee is working very efficiently.
The President of the Committee, Mr Fysentzides, has appealed to Turkey and to the Turkish community in Cyprus to help them locate these missing persons.
Mr Fysentzides has said in his appeal:"Relying on the pictures published in the Turkish press and on the documents and lists submitted by the UN and Turkish authorities, we have established that 2,000 of our compatriots are missing after the Turkish military operation. They are our fathers and sons. As families we are in distress. We want to know whether or not they are dead. If they are, we will try to remedy our grief. However, the Turkish leadership is refusing to answer our call. This has nothing to do with propaganda. If the Turkish authorities agree, we will send four or five people and under the Turkish army's supervision, we will search for them, because we have established from the list submitted to us that they are alive. Try to understand our suffering and help us".
The Pancyprian Committee of Parents and Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners of War and Missing Persons bases its arguments on pictures published in the Turkish press and on UN name-lists of prisoners to be returned. The Committee believes that the missing persons are still alive and perhaps it could locate and find some of them. "We are ready to obey all your orders", says the Committee's President".
Under this interview a picture is published in which four Greek National Guardsmen are shown surrendering to the Turkish forces. Mr Birand writes:
"The Greeks are continuing their propaganda, especially on missing persons and POWs. People visiting Cyprus are handed brochures in which the above picture is included. The following is printed under the picture:` This picture was taken by a Turkish war correspondent captured by Greek National Guardsmen'.
When I returned to Turkey, Mr Ergun Konuksever saw the picture by chance and quickly recognised it and said:` It was I who took this picture when I was wounded in Kuchuk Kaimakli (Omorphita) and taken prisoner by Greeks. They seized my three cameras and films. In spite of the UN's decision, they did not return them to me when I was freed. I remember very well taking this picture in Serdali (Chattos village) during the tank operation. These are the Greek POWs captured by the tank crew MERIC I and the soldier in the foreground is Corporal Mustafa from SAMSUN offering cigarettes to the POW's".
Special NEWS BULLETIN (a Turkish Cypriot Publication), Wed- nesday 4 September 1974
Greek Cypriot POW's during lunch hour. They were visited yesterday by the Representatives of the Turkish Red Crescent who toured all Prisoner of War Camps in the Turkish controlled region of the island to ascertain the needs of the prisoners.
The following persons, identifield in the photo, are still missing:
Names of persons arrested by the Turks who conveyed messages to their families over the illegal Turkish Cypriot "Bayrak" while in captivity and whose present whereabouts are unknown:
TESTIMONIES DOCUMENTING MESSAGES BROADCASTED ON BAYRAK FROM PERSONS STILL MISSING
Summary of testimony given by Kiki Andreou Symeonides from Kythrea
During the course of the second phase of the Turkish invasion, that is on 14.8.74, Kiki Andreou together with her family went to Kalopanayiotis. On 15 or 16 August 1974 and at about 20:00 while she was listening to the Greek broadcast of the illegal Turkish Cypriot radiostation BAYRAK, the announcer said that at that moment messages by captured national guardsmen would be broadcast. Among those who spoke she heard her co-villager Antonakis Korellis, whom she knew very well say: I am Antonakis Korellis from Kythrea, we are doing fine.
Both her family and herself were certain that the person who spoke was indeed her co-villager, Antonakis Korellis.
Summary of testimony given by Yiannoula Paviou Argyrou from Kato Lakatamia
On 8 or 9 August 1974 and at about 20:00, after the news bulletin of the illegal Turkish Cypriot radio station BAYRAK, Yiannoulla heard messages by Greek Cypriot prisoners. Among those who delivered a message was someone named Demetrios Pyrkas from Mammari. He stated his name, that he was from Mammari and that he was fine. She herself did not know this missing person.
Summary of testimony given by Costas Georgi from Assia village
During the course of the Turkish invasion he was working for MACHI and THARROS newspapers and among his duties was the monitoring of the illegal Turkish Cypriot radio station BAYRAK broadcasts. On 4 or 5 August 1974 and at around 20:15 after the news bulletin and BAYRAK commentary, he heard five Greek Cypriots speaking and saying that they were doing fine with the Turkish Cypriots. One of the five was the missing Christakis Kalapodas from Kakopetria. He did not know Kalapodas.
________________________________________________________ | | | INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS | | Tracing Agency | | | | Nicosia 20.9.74 | | | | ATTESTATION | | ~~~~~~~~~~~ | | | | The Tracing Agency certifies that according to | | information in its possession. | | | | Name, first name GEORGHIOU ANDREAS | | Date of birth 22 yrs old | | Place of birth Famagusta | | Father's name Petrasides Georhios | | Rank ----- | | Unit ----- | | Service number ----- | | was taken prisoner on ----- | | and interned in at Seray Police Station where he | | was visited by ICRC Delegates on | | 23.8.74 | | Under POW number Unknown | | | | the above information is based on the following | | documents: | | List sent by ICRC Delegate on | | 23.8.74 and filed under ref: | | EZY 282B/58 | | | | | | (signature) | | M. Baumgartner | | Head of tracing Agency Nicosia | |_______________________________________________________|
Petrasides Georghiou Andreas, 22 years old, from Famagusta, IS STILL "MISSING", although he was visited and listed as Prisoner of War at the Turkish Prison of Seray, by Delegates of International Committee of the Red Cross on 23.8.74, in accordance with the above attestation.
The above list was published in the press early in September 1974 by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Unfortunately of the twenty (20) persons who were listed by the ICRC as prisoners at the Turkish prison "Pavlides Garage", the following were not released and ARE STILL "MISSING":