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Turkey: mass burial site covered up by the Military

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 PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 11:33 am    Post subject: Turkey: mass burial site covered up by the Military Reply with quote Back to top

[October 30, 2006]

“Found by Villagers; Covered up by the Military”

Turkish gendarmerie has instructed local villagers of a southeastern region to keep silence about a recently discovered mass burial site that might contain skeletons of massacred Armenians.

The mass burial, believed to be from the Armenian Genocide, was discovered in southeastern Turkey's Mardin region on October 17, 2006.

According to Ülkede Özgür Gündem , a Kurdish newspaper published in Turkish, villagers from Xirabebaba (Kuru) were digging a grave for one of their relatives when they came across to a cave full of skulls and bones of reportedly 40 people.

The Xirabebaba residents assumed they had uncovered a mass grave of 300 Armenian villagers massacred during the Genocide of 1915. They informed Akarsu Gendarmerie headquarters, the local military unit, about the discovered cave. Turkish army officers, according to Ülkede Özgür Gündem, instructed the villagers to blockade the cave entrance and make no mention about the skeletons. The officers said an investigation would take place.

Ülkede Özgür Gündem reported on the developments and the Turkish military's attempt to hide the news. In an October 22, 2006 article, titled “Found by Villagers; Covered up by the Military,” the newspaper wrote that soldiers from Akarsu gendarmerie headquarters came to the site, covered the cave entrance and took photographs. Journalists, who had arrived to obtain more information, were denied access to the cave.

Although there had been prior instances of finding mass burial sites believed to be from the Armenian Genocide, this was the first incident when such a discovery was reported by a daily newspaper in Turkey.

As the mass burial made news, local gendarmerie made another visit to the villagers. The latter were pressed to report the name of the person who leaked the mass burial discovery to the press. The officers told the villagers that the news reported by Roj TV, an international Kurdish satellite television, and Ülkede Özgür Gündem were “all lies.” The villagers were warned not to show the way to the cave to anybody.

The victims of the mass grave, according to Södertörn University History Professor David Gaunt, are most likely the 150 Armenian and 120 Syriac males, heads of their families, from the nearby town of Dara (now Oguz) killed on June 14, 1915.

The Armenian and Syriac residents were marched out of the town, and only one person was known to have escaped to tell of what had happened, Prof. Gaunt says. According to the Syriac survivor, his marching neighbors were murdered and their bodies were placed in a well. “The mass burial in this cave suggests that the two groups could have been killed in separate places, and that the Armenians were put into this cave, while the Syriacs were put in a well,” Prof. Gaunt, whose “Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I” book comes out November, 2006, concludes.

The Turkish government officially denies the genocide of over a million Armenians, accompanied with massacres of thousands of Syriacs and other minorities, which took place in what is now eastern Turkey during WWI.

Photographs by Ülkede Özgür Gündem. Republished by permission.

Ayse Gunaysu, Istanbul

A draft of this report has been initially published at www.blogian.hayastan.com.
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 PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

by Afram Barryakoub

Spero News
Nov 29 2006

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has received an interpellation
from parliament demanding an investigation into finding of human
remains of genocide.

The finding of a mass grave in south eastern Turkey, believed to date
from the 1915 genocide of Assyrians and Armenians, and the Turkish
government's silence regarding the finding has prompted a debate in
the Swedish parliament on the matter.

It was on October 17 this year that villagers from Xirabebaba (Kuru)
in southeastern Turkey came across a mass grave when digging a grave
for one of their deceased. The villagers took pictures of the skulls
and bones in the mass grave before Turkish military came and blocked
the site.

The villagers were certain that they had found remains of victims of
the 1915 genocide. The military personnel forbade the villagers to
tell anyone about the site and then closed it. Some of the villagers
chose not to follow the orders of the military and told the story to
a local newspaper who followed up on the story.

As soon as the military learned that someone has leaked this
information to the press, they pressed the villagers to give the
names of those responsible for this. Since then journalists trying
to get near the mass grave have been denied access by the military.

Turkey still denies that its Christian population of Assyrians (also
called Chaldeans and Syriacs), Greeks and Armenians were subjected
to genocides. That could explain why the Turkish state and most of
the Turkish media has remained silent about the finding.

But now one of Turkey's most popular weekly magazines, Nokta,
has highlighted the mass grave finding with a cover story in the
latest issue with the main heading "Again acting the three monkeys -
a mass grave was found one month ago in Nusaybin and the jurisdiction,
execution and legislation bodies as well as the media are silent."

The writer, Talin Suciyan, accuses the Turkish state of turning a
deaf ear to the mass grave finding. "None of the three 'powers' of
our democracy, legislation, jurisdiction or execution made a move to
deal with the issue. And when the fourth power - the media - swept
the bones under the carpet (the Turkish) public remained completely
unaware of the issue." she writes.

In fact, the only Turkish group that has reacted to the finding is
the Turkish Human Rights Association who sent an open letter to the
ministry of interior calling for an investigation into the matter.

The mass grave finding has yet to enter Turkish politics but in Sweden
the matter has stirred up a debate on the highest levels, much due
to the efforts of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Association (ACSA).

The news about the mass finding was distributed by Tidningarnas
Telegrambyrå (TT), Sweden's top news agency and was thereafter
published in several Swedish media, including the two leading morning
papers Dagens Nyheter (DN) and Svenska Dagbladet (Svd).

As a result of the above the mass grave issue has now entered Swedish
politics as MP Hans Linde from the left party recently submitted an
interpellation to the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, asking
for an independent commission of scientists and historians to examine
the findings.

The foreign minister must now ask the foreign ministry to launch an
investigation into the matter before he can respond to MP Hans Linde.

The response of the foreign minister on this issue is due to be
presented on the 12 of December before parliament.
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