33 missing Turkish Cypriots laid to rest after 42 years

33 missing Turkish Cypriots laid to rest after 42 years

NICOSIA - The Associated Press
33 missing Turkish Cypriots laid to rest after 42 years

AP photo

The remains of 33 Turkish Cypriot villagers who were shot and killed after being taken off two buses during Turkey’s 1974 intervention into the island’s northern part have been laid to rest after they were discovered down a mineshaft more than four decades later.

Gülden Plümer Küçük, the Turkish Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons, told The Associated Press that the Aug. 15 mass burial in the village of Taşkent in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) comes exactly 42 years after the killings. The remains of 45 other people who had also been aboard the busses were buried in the village in 2014.

Hundreds of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots disappeared during the conflict, which followed a coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece.

Küçük says 680 people have so far been identified, but 200 Turkish Cypriots and 900 Greek Cypriots remain missing.

The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, though peace talks aimed at finding a settlement are ongoing.

The Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders of the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus will soon begin discussing subjects “which have not been touched upon” previously in the ongoing peace talks, the United Nations said in July. 

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, have been in excessive peace talks under the auspices of the U.N. since May 2015 in order to reach a peaceful solution to the more-than 40-year-old conflict. 

Both of the island’s leaders have on multiple occasions expressed their will and ambition to find a solution before the end of the year. 

On July 26, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot governments had always been constructive, calling on the Greek Cypriot side not to miss this “last chance,” while adding that Turkey backed the peace talks.