Appeal for 282 corpses buried under sidewalk in Kilyos-Turkey

Law and non-governmental organizations in Istanbul informed the public on 282 bodies buried under sidewalks in Kilyos Cemetery after being removed from Garzan Cemetery in Yukari Ölek village of Bitlis.

IHD (Human Rights Association) Istanbul Branch President Gülseren Yoleri said that the corpses should be taken off the Kilyos sidewalk immediately and added, “Families of the bodies buried under the pavement should be apologized for their trauma and suffering.”

Law and non-governmental organizations in Istanbul held a press conference at the Hill Hotel in Taksim to inform the public on 282 bodies buried under sidewalks in Kilyos Cemetery after being removed from Garzan Cemetery in Yukari Ölek village of Bitlis. Representatives from the Human Rights Association (İHD), Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD), Society and Law Research Foundation (TOHAV), Solidarity with Families Who Lost Their Relatives in the Cradle of Civilizations Union and Culture Association (MEBYA-DER), Aid and Solidarity Association with Families Who Lost Their Relatives in Anatolia (AN-YAKAY-DER), Southeastern Associations Platform (DGDP) and Democratic Alevis Association (DAD) attended the press conference.

People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır MPs Hişyar Özsoy and Hüda Kaya, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, HDP Istanbul Provincial Organization Co-Chairs Elif Bulut and Erdal Avcı, as well as representatives of the institutions, and many families who could not receive their bodies also participated in the press conference. The joint press release was read by Gülseren Yoleri, president of the IHD Istanbul branch.

Reminding that the vast majority of the bodies buried in the Garzan cemetery belong to people who lost their lives in the intense conflicts of the 1990s, Yoleri said, “Again, as of the 2000s, the bodies found in mass graves that emerged as a result of the studies carried out by organizations such as İHD in Bitlis were moved here and buried again. In addition, the bodies of some people who lost their lives in the battle against ISIS in Rojava in 2014 were also buried in this cemetery.”

Expressing that the construction of the Garzan Cemetery was carried out with the knowledge of the government, Yoleri said that after the solution process was over, such cemeteries became the target in parallel with the policy change pursued by the ruling party. Stating that all of these cemeteries were destroyed by aerial bombing and construction equipment in defiance of national and international laws, Yoleri reminded the İHD’s report on the Garzan Cemetery dated March 9, 2018.

IHD Istanbul branch president also recalled that the corpses that were removed from Garzan and then taken to Istanbul turned out, after two years, to be in the Kilyos Cemetery. While the families were not informed about the procedures, 282 corpses were buried in Kilyos.

Referring to the national and international regulations, Yoleri continued; “In the light of all these norms, the cemetery was destroyed first and then the graves were excavated with construction equipment, families were not informed in any way and their opinions were not asked. The fact that the identities of the bodies were not investigated properly, that they were not buried in the same graves which they were taken off following the forensic medicine, and that they were buried in mass in the cemetery of nameless in Kilyos in an indefinite manner without complying with the law, customs, traditions and religious teachings is against the law and deeply injured the conscience of the society ”.

SUGGESTIONS

 Yoleri listed her suggestions regarding funerals as follows:

 * Establishment of a Parliamentary Investigation Commission and / or initiation of judicial and administrative investigations regarding the destruction and transfer of the Garzan Cemetery and the determination and punishment of those responsible.

 * Identification of 282 corpses and handover to their families.

 * Unidentified corpses should be removed from the pavements where they were buried collectively by experts with scientific skills and buried again in the cemetery in Garzan.

 * The families of the victims whose remains were buried under the pavement should be apologized for the trauma and suffering they experienced.