The House of Representatives’ plenary session expressed on Thursday its insistence on the need to ascertain the fate of each missing person in Cyprus.

Οn the occasion of the upcoming “Missing Persons Day” declared by the House of Representatives for October 29, the plenary called on Ankara to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling on Cyprus` 4th interstate appeal and immediately provide the Committee on the Missing Persons all information it has on the fate of each and every one of the missing and to permit excavations in areas designated as military zones.

“Today, 39 years after the Turkish invasion to Cyprus we express our wholehearted sympathy to the families and relatives of the missing and we declare that this struggle will not stop until the ascertainment of the fate of the missing persons is possible, as the relatives have the supreme human right to know,” said Acting President of the House Sofocles Fittis.

Fittis said the House October 29 as the “Missing Persons Day” because on that day in 1974 the last Cypriot prisoners were set free by the Turkish army.

“On that day began the saddest aspect of the Cypriot drama, as well the fate of hundreds of our compatriots remains unknown,” he added.

Recalling that Turkey failed to cooperate for the solution of this humanitarian issue despite various UN resolutions and ECHR Court of Human Rights rulings, Fittis added that after many agonizing and daily efforts by Cyprus it was achieved through the work of CMP to ascertain the identity of tents of our missing .”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. As a result of the invasion, 1619 Greek-Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in the battlefield.

Among them, however, were many civilians, women and children, arrested by the Turkish invasion troops and Turkish-Cypriot paramilitary groups, within the area controlled by the Turkish army after the end of hostilities and far away from the battlefield. Many of those missing were last seen alive in the hands of the Turkish military. A further 41 more cases of Greek Cypriot missing persons have been recently added. These cases concern the period between 1963-1964, when inter-communal fighting broke out but none of them has been identified yet.

The number of Turkish Cypriot missing since 1974 and 1963/64 stands at 503.

According to the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) the total number of identifications has risen to 407 from 337 at the end of 2012, of which 83% or 333 were Greek Cypriots and 17% which corresponds to 17 identifications were Turkish Cypriots.

Since the beginning of the identification programme in 2006, 900 exhumations have been carried out until April 2013, which represents 45% of the total missing persons from both communities. So far excavations have been carried out at 738 sites, of which 479 or 65% bore no result whereas remains were located in 259 burial sites. Since the recommencement of the CMP programme last August, 1.351 samples have been genetically analysed which is 50% more than the samples analysed in the past seven years.

Exhumations are carried out on both sides of the buffer zone by bi-communal teams (6 teams in the north and 2 teams in the south) made of over 55 Cypriot archaeologists and anthropologists. Bi-communal teams are now autonomous after having been trained by international experts from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) during the first 18 months of the project.

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