The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) on Monday clarified that it did not exhume remains at Agios Nikolaos cemetery in Limassol. CMP issued a press release following recent media reports of the finding of remains in the Agios Nikolaos cemetery.
“CMP emphasises that it only engages in bi-communal work involving its teams of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists. CMP has never been involved in any activities at the Agios Nikolaos cemetery. The exhumations cited in the media occurred solely as a Greek Cypriot unilateral activity”, the press release points out.
It is added that during CMP’s bicommunal exhumations of remains of presumed missing persons, CMP applies the following stringent procedures regarding unidentifiable skeletal remains:
•All the skeletal remains exhumed are transferred to the CMP anthropological laboratory and after analysis, bone samples are sent to DNA analysis for identification purposes or for Radio Carbon (C14) analysis to determine the relevance of the remains to the project.
•If the Radio Carbon (C14) analysis results show that the remains are ancient, thus not related to missing persons, the remains can be transferred to the sites which were initially exhumed.
•If the remains are exhumed from a cemetery and the results show that they do not belong to missing persons, remains can be buried back to the cemetery which were initially exhumed
.•If the DNA results do not match with any missing person or failed to yield any genetic results, all skeletal remains are kept in the CMP Mortuary.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.
The CMP is a tripartite intercommunal investigatory committee comprising a representative of the Greek Cypriot community, a representative of the Turkish Cypriot community, and a Third Member nominated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and appointed by the UN Secretary General.
According to data provided on the CMP website, the total number of missing persons is 2,002 of which 1,510 Greek Cypriots and 492 Turkish Cypriots.
The remains of 681 Greek Cypriots and 246 Turkish Cypriots were identified until January 31, 2019, while 829 Greek Cypriots and 246 Turkish Cypriots are still missing.