28 people were buried in the mass grave on the Görentaş plateau in the Çatak district of eastern Van province. The mass grave was shockingly discovered with several other mass graves on an area.
The families of those whose remains are lying in these mass graves filed a lawsuit on 12 October 1998 for the return of the remains of their loved ones.
The case has been continuing ever since that time and the families have struggled with a hope for justice that the mass graves be opened and that they be able to bury their loved ones in proper graveyards with religous rites and rituals.
At the 31st hearing of the case which was heard on 20 April, a local court in Çatak ruled the final decision and denied an appeal for the return of the remains of the Kurdish fighters buried in the mass graves to their families.
If the Court decision is finalised by the upper court, the remains of the Kurdish fighters will be handed over to Çatak District Governorship for burial, and not to their families.
Malgaz family has been one of the families who applied to the legal authorities to take the remains of their son Abdullah Malgaz, whose scattered remains were found buried in two separate mass graves.
”We just want a grave to pray next to. Is that too much to ask?” said Mustafa Malgaz, brother of Abdullah Malgaz, sharing his reaction to the court decision with Mesopotamia Agency.
Mustafa Malgaz stated that the Court’s attitude had changed during and after the peace process. “During the solution process, the judges and soldiers went to the region together to investigate the mass grave,” he said, “but after the disruption of the process, it was said that “the remains cannot be returned to their families.”
The Turkish authorities at first insisted on only returning the remains of just four Kurdish fighters, but the families rejected this so called, “offer”.
“All the families of all the 27 deceased, we all said ‘we all want our remains’. We insisted that all families were returned the remains of their lost loved ones,” Malgaz said.
The identities of the Kurdish fighters could not be determined due to the fact that they were “heavily burned”, Since it was not possible to identify the remains, the families demanded to have all the remains all together and “bury them at one cemetery properly,” Malgaz said.
“It was our only hope to take the remains. We want to have a grave for our relatives that we can visit and mourn.”