With the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s return to its war policies in 2015, curfews were being announced in the Kurdish populated cities of the south-east Turkey, and Turkish Armed Forces launched operations in the districts after locals declared democratic autonomy.
The bodies of People’s Defense Units (HPG) and Civil Protection Units/Civil Protection Units Women (YPS/YPS-JIN) members who died as a result of the conflicts in the region are kept in the cemeteries of the unknown for years.
Although the identity information has been disclosed, the applications made by the families are left unanswered. After the ‘solution process’ was reportedly halted by AKP Chairman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Garzan Cemetery in the village of Oleka Jor in the center of Bitlis was destroyed on 19 December 2017 and corpses were removed using construction equipment.Later the bodies of the Kurdish fighters were taken from there and brought to Istanbul for DNA tests. 282 bodies were buried on the Kilyos sidewalk in Istanbul and within the past four years, only 21 bodies have been given to their families.
The Association of Help and Solidarity with Families who have lost their Relatives (MEBYA-DER) Co-Chair Seyhmus Karadag spoke to Mesopotamia News Agency stating “At least 1,000 bodies buried in the cemetery of the unknown Van, Siirt, Elazig, Adiyaman, Bingöl, Mardin, Urfa, Adana, Sirnak, Diyarbakir and Batman, as well as in Istanbul’s Kilyos cemetery.”
Karadag said the families had repeatedly applied to receive their bodies but the bodies are buried without informing the families, and these cemeteries are later called cemetery of the unknown.
“However, the people buried there all have families asking for the bodies ” he stated.
Despite the fact the results of the DNA samples from the families were clear in 24 hours, informing the families takes months and years.
“It is against human rights to bury the body without DNA results.” Several bodies of the deceased were also held in morgues in Diyarbakir, Siirt, and Batman, Karadag said.
“What do you want from these people, what are your fear and hostility? Those who talk about faith in religion have a hateful approach when it comes to funerals.” He gives an example:
“The bodies of three people including Mercan Erol, who died in 2017 in Diyarbakir’s Kulp district, were buried together at Yeniköy Cemetery in Baglar district and the family applied ten times to receive the body, however, each time the family’s request was denied.”
“Parents have been searching to find a bone of their child for years, they want to take their bodies and bury them, even a fingernail. However, the parents’ applications are not answered. Because they want to dissepear bodies. They even do not want that these people have a tombstone. There is a policy of hostility towards both families and the deceased”