Human skulls found on former gendarmerie site
The archeologists have found eight human skulls and bones while excavating a site in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. Some 171 people’s bones have been found in 26 mass graves so far in Turkey while there are many others to be reached, officials say. DHA photoArcheologists have unearthed eight unidentified human skulls and bones in the vicinity of a former gendarmerie command building, a courthouse and the infamous Diyarbakır Prison while excavating a site in the southeastern province Jan. 11.
“This was the place where JITEM [a clandestine gendarmerie intelligence unit whose existence was officially denied until recently] used to conduct interrogations. It was the place where massacres, extrajudicial killings and unresolved murders were committed,” Raci Bilici, the secretary of the Diyarbakır branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) told Hürriyet Daily News.
The archeologists and other workers in the Saraykapı quarter of the Sur district notified the police once they uncovered the human remains. Law enforcement officials consequently arrived on the scene and drew a barrier tape around the area, while a prosecutor soon followed thereafter and initiated a new excavation with crime scene investigation units.
“There are families who have appealed to us about a year ago. We are going to take their applications and make an official appeal for a DNA test to be conducted. I hope and wish the families who appealed to us at least gain possession of the bones of their loved ones. Perhaps then they will have a gravestone,” Bilici said, adding there were testimonies on people’s relatives being brought to the area in question.
“There are 17,500 people who are reported lost by their families,” Bilici said. “The number may go higher. The land that JITEM used is quite large; therefore the investigation should go deeper.”
The skulls and bones are going to be delivered to the Istanbul Forensics Institute where the identities of the remnants will be determined through DNA tests, according to reports.
Some 171 people’s bones have been found in 26 mass graves so far in Turkey while there are still 88 mass graves and 1,298 bodies waiting to be reached around Southeast Anatolia, according to reports from the Human Rights Association, or İHD as of July 2011.
Serdar Çelebi, an attorney-at-law and a member of the İHD’s central executive board, said the state itself was responsible for the mass graves and that it was time Turkey faced the truth.
“We want the state to share its policy with the public. We ask them to determine how and by whom these people were killed. Our aim is to help the state pave the way to solve this issue,” he said.