Turkish Cypriots to bury missing children after decades
Some 14 Turkish Cypriot children, who were killed by infamous EOKA-B members during the Cyprus Operation in 1974 and buried in a mass grave following the massacre, will receive head-stones after their identities were confirmed through DNA tests made by the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP).
The remains of a total of 14 children, seven girls and seven boys between the ages of four months and 15 years old, will be buried with a military ceremony on Dec. 26 with the participation of the Turkish Cypriot leadership and officials.
On Aug. 14, 1974, a group of Greek Cypriot fanatics from neighboring villages and flanked by Greek Cypriot soldiers raided three Turkish villages: Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda in Gazimağusa district.
The militants rounded up 126 Turkish Cypriots in a village square and executed those resisting the roundup, while the rest who did not resist were taken outside the village and were buried together after they were killed.
The youngest of those killed in these villages was 16-day-old Selden Ali Faik, and the oldest was 95-year-old Hüseyin Osman.
Speaking to the Demirören News Agency, Ahmet Aşır, the chair of the Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda massacre martyrs foundation, said he lost nearly 40 relatives during the massacre.
“We have 89 martyrs in Maratha and Santalaris. Some 58 of them were buried in recent years. Now, 14 more people have been identified. I hope that we will bury them on Dec. 26, and we will wait for our 17 other martyrs to be identified. I hope that we will do our last mission for them in a short time,” he said.
In July 1974, following the first Turkish operation of Cyprus, all men of fighting age were taken away as prisoners of war to internment camps in Famagusta and then were transferred to Limassol.
Upon the launch of the second operation of the Turkish Army, EOKA-B, a Greek Cypriot terrorist organization, killed almost the entire population of three villages, mostly women and children.
The United Nations at the time described the massacre as a crime against humanity by saying “a further crime against humanity committed by the Greek and Greek Cypriot gunmen.”
Many people went missing in the 1960s and 1974 as tensions between Turkish and Greek Cypriots escalated to abductions and extrajudicial killings.
The CMP is working to return the remains of victims listed as missing in 1963, 1964 and 1974 to their families.
To date, the committee has identified 1,005 out of the 2,002 missing individuals and have returned their remains to their families.