NEWS BULLETINS HERE
(updated MAY 2016)
GENERAL MEETING HELD ON 16th APRIL 2016.
The outgoing President, Nick Neokleous, welcomed those present and stated that ORMC UK, is an organization that should not had been in existence, since the problem it is dealing with should have been solved by now. But as time passes and the problem is still perpetuated, there is even greater need to have organizations like ours and keep the issue alive.
“Despite significant involvement by the UN, EU, Cof E, ECHR the issue is still very far from been concluded. These agencies fail because they do not want to push Turkey which ignores all the prompts and instructions, pretends goodwill with deceptive moves such as contributions to the CMP and the creation of the Missing Persons Unit in so called “TRNC” Police”.
“From the activities of the Committee of ORMC(UK) I would only like to mention the two which we consider the most important: The report we have sent to all the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, except Turkey, where with evidence proving that the report received from Turkey a few days previously, had no relation to reality but a crass self-promotion and propaganda. The other significant event which the committee organized last year together with the Association of Komi Kebir and the Turkish Cypriot Organisation for Democracy, to honour the work of Turkish Cypriot journalist, Sevgul Uludag and Christina Pavlou Solomi-Patsia, in ascertaining information about the fate of many of the missing”.
“Sevgul and Christina have shown us that hatred among Cypriots has brought about many evils to our country. That human suffering and our agony for the missing persons is the same regardless of religion or nationality. They have shown that even partial discovery of the fate of missing person is achievable even without the direct involvement of Turkey. That is why we do encourage all who know even the minute detail that can help to elucidate the fate of G/C or T/C to pass this information to the CMP or to our Committee”.
Finally, he thanked everyone working to promote a solution to this problem both within the Committee and outside it, especially to non-relatives of missing persons.
Then the outgoing G. Secretary M. Mina, spoke and stressed that this issue remains unresolved because of Turkey’s intransigence and the weakness of organisations like the UN, ECHR, CoM, EU and others to deal with Turkey.
The ORMC(UK) is doing its best to keep the issue alive not only in the British domain but also in the European one. We keep in touch with British MPs as well as with our sister organisations in Cyprus and Greece. Meetings are held by these bodies regarding our issue but unfortunately we do not see any results. The question is a very simple one: “Why has there being a result in the case of the Balkans and not one in Cyprus? Do the people of Cyprus have less human rights than those of Bosnia”?
“How is it possible for the main culprit to be missing from the most important phase, that of the location of mass graves, since Turkey has all the details of where these graves exist”? The recent submission of the Cyprus Government to the CoM demolishes the Turkish propaganda contained in its submission to the CoM.
Even in his recent report the Secretary General of the UN stresses the need for making available to the CMP all the means and information so that it can carry out its work efficiently.
“My personal view is that we seem to have placed all our hopes in the Council of Europe and the ECHR and have side-lined the UN and USA. It is of the utmost importance to direct our efforts towards the UN and USA and if possible involve American personalities and organisations”.
Minas concluded that in the last 10-15 years we seem to have placed all our eggs in one basket and the results do not justify such approaches. A slight change in direction may be fruitful and certainly it will not be detrimental.
Next the outgoing Treasurer, K. Paschalis, produced the accounts and explained all in detail stating that we had expenses of £5440.00 and a very healthy balance of £11440.00. The budget for the current year was estimated at £7,720.
The meeting was then opened to discussion and answers were given to a number of questions.
Costas then introduced the 15 nominated persons for election to the committee.
After a unanimous decision by all those present, all 15 nominees were declared committee members. At the following committee meeting the posts were allocated as follows:. The N. Neokleous President, T. Theodorou V.President, S. Hadjiphilippou G. Secretary, Y. G. Ucar Asst.G. Secretary, K. Paschalis Treasurer, A. Christou Asst. Treasurer, I. Kouvaros Public Relations and Y. Kashimeri, E. Andreou, N. Ioakim, N. Hadjoulli, X. Chambou, T. Theodoulou, G. Antoniou, A. Chrysanthou, as members.
Our letter to the Ambassadors to the Committee Ministers (please see response below, updated 16.3.16):
We are writing to you because the Committee of Ministers (CoM) will be discussing the issue of the Cyprus missing, yet again, on 8-10 March 2016. As relatives of the missing, and directly affected by the process, we would like to take this opportunity to express our views as to how the Supervision (by the CoM) of Execution (by Turkey) of relevant Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are progressing.
It has been 15 years since the CoM undertook the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the “Cyprus v. Turkey” 25781/94 ECHR case, yet only the remains of one third of our missing have been found.
This is because The CoM seem to be positively inclined towards the so-called “sequential approach” offered by Turkey regarding investigations. We are finding it difficult to comprehend how the invading power and the cause of our problem, be relieved of its responsibilities for the most crucial phase in the investigations into the fate and whereabouts of the missing.
Turkey has announced plans to allow the CMP excavation teams access to suspected burial sites in military areas in the occupied north of Cyprus.Whilst this could be seen as a positive step, we are suspicious of Turkey’s intentions. We have reasons to feel this way, given that Turkey has not actively supported the search in the past and is not proposing to support the search now. Moreover, is refusing to open its archives to the CMP, an action that will eliminate the excavation of sites containing no remains, or sites where remains were subsequently moved elsewhere.
Our concerns were confirmed after reading the recent Turkish Submission to the Secretariat of the CoM. We are providing below our comments to selected sections of that submission and would be very grateful if you could spare a little of your valuable time to look at them.
We believe it is time for the CoM to press strongly for compliance with ECHR judgements. To demand at least that Turkey assists the CMP in their investigations. We would be grateful for your support.
With Our Best Wishes,
The Committee of ORMC (UK)
ORMC (UK) response to the “Memorandum concerning missing persons” submitted by the Turkish Delegation to the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers.
On ECtHR cases:
-“Cyprus v. Turkey” (25781/94)
-Varnava and others v. Turkey (16064/90)
(Numbered paragraphs from the Memorandum
Lettered paragraphs – ORMC (UK) comments)
1. The first phase of investigations into the search of the remains of persons who are still missing is entrusted to the CMP by both the applicant and the Turkish Cypriot side. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has already held that it is satisfied with the effective work of the CMP for this part of the investigations.1
a) The overriding priority for the relatives is to find out the fate and whereabouts of their missing and, depending on the fate, to have the person back to his/her family or his/her remains back for proper burial.
b) The imposition of the 30M euros penalty to Turkey, while the sequential process is in operation, indicate to us that the ECHR is not satisfied with the process followed. We do expect that not only Turkey but also the CoM should be mindful of that.
c) How does the CoM expect Turkey to “adopt a proactive approach as regards the search of the persons who are still missing”, while at the same time do not raise an objection when Turkey declares that its contribution will, in a sequential approach, come in only in the 2nd phase of the investigation, i.e. when the person had already been identified, and no longer still missing?
2. The Turkish side (as well as the applicant for that matter)2, therefore, benefits from the work done by the CMP. This is also acknowledged by the ECtHR in the Charalambous line of inadmissibility decisions.
d) The ECHR affirmed on a number of occasions that the CMP could not be considered a satisfactory replacement for Turkey’s obligation to carry out an “effective investigation” into the whereabouts of the missing persons.
3. In order to ensure the continuation of the effectiveness of the CMP, the Turkish side: (a) assists with the exhumation phase, (b) shares any new information about the whereabouts of the remains of what could be reported missing persons, and (c) provides financial means so that the CMP can successfully complete all phases of its work.
e) In this paragraph, as in many of the others in this report, intentionally and conveniently tries to mix together the Turkish Cypriot contributions ((a), (b) and (c)) with the contribution from Turkey (only (c)).
f) Needs to be reminded that T/C contribution comes from their active participation in the UN established CMP. Turkey’s contribution should be what the ECHR asked for, which sadly is not provided by Turkey.
5. On 5 November 2015, the Turkish side, on its own initiative, decided to give access to the CMP for exhumation in the remaining 30 military areas that is suspected to contain burial sites. The UN Secretary-General welcomed this decision of the Turkish side to provide the CMP excavation teams with access to 30 suspected burial sites in military areas in the North. The CMP also considered this to be an important “breakthrough”, and a step taken in a proactive manner to accelerate the CMP’s work with a view to its conclusion. In light of its present capacity, it is expected that the CMP will complete its exhumation work in these areas within 3 years.
g) It is indeed a “breakthrough” for Turkey, after 42 years since they occupied and declared them military areas, and taking into account their reluctance and delays in giving access before.
h) The Turkish site in this case does not mean the T/Cs – they cannot make such decisions regarding military areas created used by the Turkish army.
i) It is a welcomed development, yet an oxymoron one, given that the CMP is expected to enter Turkish military areas and, based on its own investigations, locate the sites where the Turkish army and other personnel buried our missing!!
6. It has been the practice of the Turkish side to accommodate the CMP’s requests to exhume in specific sites in the military areas as the CMP does not otherwise share information on suspected burial sites. Permissions for all 30 such requests have been previously granted, and a total of 122 missing persons have been exhumed within the military areas. The UN Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council on the United Nations operation in Cyprus also acknowledged that the Turkish side has accelerated the granting of access to the military areas during the reporting period.4 UN Security Council also welcomed all efforts to accommodate the CMP exhumation requirements as well as the joint appeal for information issued by the two leaders on 28 May 2015. With the latest development, clearance has been given to all currently known suspected burial sites in military areas in the North.
j) This is interesting!! The Turkish side accommodated 30 CMP’s requests to exhume in specific sites in the military areas before … and a total of 122 missing persons have been exhumed. Now Turkey is giving permission to another 30 military sites. Even if we assume that twice as many missing persons are found … after 3 years, we will still have more than half of our missing relatives unaccounted for.
8. As it should be recalled, the Turkish side has already provided the CMP with all the relevant information on the location of graves of missing persons that was in its possession at the end of 1997. There is no pending request from the CMP for additional information from military archives or otherwise.
k) The CoM should repeat, on behalf of the CMP, not just a request but unequivocal demand for additional information from Turkish military archives or other archives with information relevant to this issue.
l) 21 paragraphs (18-38) deal with the process followed and work carried out by the “MPU”. – No comments other than: the way it has been established and its achievements, after five years in operation, demonstrates that its purpose is not what it proclaims to be.
39. For the upcoming CMDH meeting, it is the request of this Delegation to acknowledge in its debate and subsequent decision;
- the effective cooperation of the Turkish side to the successful work of the CMP, particularly the proactive decision taken to give access to the CMP for exhumation in the remaining 30 military areas that is suspected to contain burial sites,
- the ongoing work of the MPU and the Attorney-General’s Office relating to criminal investigations, and those that have been completed; and
- to invite all those who had boots on the ground in Cyprus in 1963/64 and in 1974 to actively assist the ongoing efforts to find the whereabouts of the missing.
m) Of all those who had boots on the ground in 1974, the great majority were those of the regular Turkish army. They, too, must be invited to assist on the ongoing efforts, by explaining what happened to our relatives, now missing, who were taken alive during the invasion, never to be seen again.
Also explain what happened to those of our relatives, now missing, who had fallen during the invasion but information about their fate was denied to us for 42 years.
And even today for those fallen as well as those killed after their capture, their grave locations remains well-guarded secret which the CMP are trying to uncover without the help of those boots on the ground then and continue to be on the ground today.
i. -to encourage the Greek Cypriot side and Greece in providing access to the CMP excavation teams to the suspected burial sites in the military areas under their control.
n) If there is any suspicion of that, why successive Turkish Cypriot leaders have not raised the demand with successive Cypriot presidents?
Decision of the Committee of Ministers Council of Europe (posted 16th March 2016)
Cyprus v. Turkey (Application No. 25781/94)
Varnava and others v. Turkey (Application No. 16064/90+)
Supervision of the execution of the Court’s judgments
1. noted with satisfaction that in November 2015 the Turkish authorities granted the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) access to thirty additional military areas;
2. welcomed the call made in December 2015 by the leaders of the two communities, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot, inviting any person possessing information on the possible burial places of missing persons to submit it to the CMP;
3. reaffirmed, due to the passage of time, the urgency for the Turkish authorities to intensify their proactive approach to providing the CMP with all necessary assistance to continue to achieve tangible results as quickly as possible;
4. in this respect called upon the Turkish authorities to give unhindered access to the CMP to all possible military zones located in the northern part of Cyprus and to examine proprio motu the reports and military archives in their possession containing information on burial sites, including of relocated remains, and to transmit it to the CMP;
5. took note with interest of the additional information provided by the Turkish authorities on the progress made in the investigations conducted by the Missing Persons Unit, including the finalisation of a number of these investigations (including that in respect of Savvas Hadjipanteli, one of the missing persons in the Varnava case);
6. called upon the Turkish authorities to ensure the effectiveness of these investigations and their rapid conclusion; invited the Turkish authorities to continue to keep the Committee informed of the progress made in these investigations, and in particular in the investigation concerning Andreas Varnava;
7. insisted on the unconditional obligation to pay the just satisfaction awarded by the European Court and called upon the Turkish authorities to pay without delay the sums awarded in the judgment of 12 May 2014;
8. decided to resume consideration of the issue of missing persons at their 1273rd meeting (December 2016) (DH).
Varnava and others v. Turkey (Application No. 16064/90+)
Xenides-Arestis group v. Turkey (Application No. 46347/99)
Supervision of the execution of the Court’s judgments
1. firmly insisted once again on Turkey’s unconditional obligation to pay the just satisfaction awarded by the European Court of Human Rights in these cases;
2. deplored the absence of progress in this respect and exhorted Turkey to comply with this obligation without further delay;
3. reiterated their invitation to the Secretary General and member States to raise the issue of the payment of the just satisfaction in these cases in their contacts with the Turkish authorities, by calling on them to pay it;
4. agreed to resume consideration of this issue at their 1259th meeting (June 2016) (DH).
Breakthrough: Turkey grants access to 30 military areas over three-year period
(Nicosia, 5 November 2015) Today, the CMP was notified by the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr Mustafa Akıncı that Turkey had formally agreed to provide access for CMP excavation teams to all 30 currently known suspected burial sites in military areas in the north of Cyprus. Access will be given over a three year period, starting in January 2016, with ten sites to be excavated each year.
The CMP Members welcome this decision which will accelerate the Committee’s humanitarian work. The CMP wishes to thank all those involved in achieving this important breakthrough.
ORGANISATION OF RELATIVES OF MISSING CYPRIOTS (UK)
Comments: on the above Press Release
We also welcome this decision, especially given that, up to now, Turkey only gave access to very few so called “military areas” and after very long delay each time.
However, we are extremely concerned as to what the real intentions of Turkey are in making this statement and whether real progress will actually be made in finding out the fate and whereabouts of all our Missing after this access is given.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), dealing with a number of cases regarding our Missing Persons, found Turkey guilty for their disappearance, and in most cases for causing or not preventing their death. Also for denying their relatives the right to know of what happened to their loved ones. The ECHR called for Turkey to carry out its own effective investigation and provide answers.
Providing access to the CMP into military areas does not demonstrate compliance to the ECHR demands for effective investigations by Turkey.
Supervision of execution of judgments of the ECHR is monitored by the Committee of Ministers (COM) of the Council of Europe, which also issued repeated calls for Turkey to carry out their own effective investigations for the fate and whereabouts of persons still missing.
The COM is due to discuss the Missing Persons issue again during their March 2016 meeting.
No doubt Turkey will now demand that, since giving the CMP access to military areas, the COM should not deal with this issue anymore, or for at least three years. Thus leave in all to the CMP. In the meantime, as usual, nothing much would happened.
That is because for all areas, the evidence that CMP holds is not always up-to-date or reliable. CMP statistics show that only one in six of sites excavated by CMP contains any human remains.
In many cases the CMP was successful in locating the original place of burial, only the find that the Turkish army had already removed the remains from the mass graves and buried them elsewhere.
For military areas, the CMP’s search is not any easier or successful. Example the CMP’s earlier Press Release of 1 September 2015: Today a CMP excavation team discovered a burial site containing multiple human remains in a military area near the new prison in the north of Nicosia. This is the twelfth excavation conducted by the CMP in this large area, all previous ones having been unsuccessful due to major changes in the topography that have occurred over the past decades.
So finally, although we welcome this decision by Turkey and as outlined above, we are a very sceptical about this move and we ask the following questions.
1. Why access is to start from January 2016 and not immediately?
2. Why only 10 sites per year and not all sites as from now?
3. Why doesn’t the Turkish army open its archives to the CMP so that no sites will be excavated, producing no results, as it has happened many times in the past, thus saving valuable time and money?
4. Are we going to be faced with excavating graves with very few bones found because the Turkish army has removed the remains from the mass graves and buried them elsewhere, like the mass grave in Ashia?
5. Is this in order to move the Missing issue aside, while the Cyprus problem is discussed in the bilateral talks. Showing that Turkey is willing to co-operate and therefore call on the EU to open any chapters that are now frozen?
We hope and pray that the move is a genuine one and Turkey has at last, after 41 years, seen the light!
From march & rally on 5th July 2015 and from lobby outside Houses of Parliament on 7th July 2015
More images in our gallery here
ORMC(UK) SAYS GOOD BYE TO CONSUL GENERAL George Georgiou: Committee and members said good bye to another great friend of our Organisation, who has now completed his term of service as Cyprus C.G. in the UK. George is going back to Cyprus this month. We thank him and wish him all the very best.
MAY 2015: HONOURING SEVGUL ULUDAG: What an emotional evening that was! The hall was packed to the brim from members of both communities. The tears were flowing like never before. Sevgul’s account of her work in getting information, about the location of mass graves, from both members of the two communities in Cyprus was something that will be remembered for ever.
Christina Pavlou from Komi Kebir, whose father and brother are still missing, gave a short speech about her association with Sevgul, which was full of heart-breaking facts that only a heart of steel could not crack!
At the end of her speech Sevgul answered questions from the audience. Many a times she pointed out that the issue of the missing must be taken up together by both communities.
Sevgul was honoured with trophies from the Komi Kebir Assn of UK as well as from our own.
Below is the speech by our President Nick Neokleous.
Dear Compatriots, Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This special event has been organised today to honour one of Cyprus best. A most courageous peace-journalist and human-rights-activist, Sevgul Uludag.
We honour Sevgul for what she has done for the relatives of the missing persons. This is because most of the information that the investigatory committee in Cyprus has used to locate graves and proceed to identification came from Sevgul. Given to her by ordinary Turkish and Greek Cypriots who trusted her.
For the G/C missing, she has achieved what UN resolutions, ECHR judgements and over 40 years of campaigning failed to achieve. Bring closure to any of the missing persons’ cases.
Of course the fate and whereabouts for the majority of the missing is still unknown and the campaign will continue.
For the T/C missing, Sevgul went against the imposition of silence by the T/C leadership and gave their families a platform and an opportunity to tell their stories and claim their right to know as well.
To-date, thanks to Sevgul and the other guest of honour, Christina Pavlou Solomi-Patsia, as well as other good people of Cyprus, some present here today, many families of the missing, from both communities, have discovered the fate of their loved ones and have been able to bury their dead with dignity.
Christina’s brother and father are still missing but she is supporting Sevgul’s efforts to find others.
We also honour Sevgul for being the champion of reunification of Cyprus and its people. Bringing people close across the divide. I was happy to be present at an event she organised in Nicosia, honouring ordinary T/C and G/C for putting their lives in danger to save the lives of people from the other community.
We honour also Sevgul because through her “untold stories” series she is teaching us our good as well our grim history. She is filling books, paper articles and internet blogs with individual and family experiences of Cypriots who suffered due to murderous actions of extremists from the opposite community. And of people who became the victims of extremism in their own community.
Let these stories be a warning for all the Cypriots. As we hopefully move towards a free united Cyprus. We vouch that these experiences will never be repeated. Let’s learn from the terrible mistakes of the past and move forward to a peaceful future, coexisting with acceptance and respect for each other, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or politics. Let’s show the world that we don’t need any protectors or guarantors.
Dear Sevgul, we are grateful for all you are doing for all of us Cypriots, we wish you well, and hope that the vision you very clearly articulate for a free, united, peaceful Cyprus will soon become a reality.
JANUARY 2015: MEETING WITH MP MATTHEW OFFORD
On Friday 30th Jan 2015 the President and committee members met with MP Matthew Offord, the Chairman of the Cyprus APPG, to discuss the issue of our Missing.
The President presented Mr Offord with the notes of our last meeting, 8th August 13, and Mr Offord stated that since then he had met, together with David Burrowes MP, with the Minister for Europe Mr David Lidington MP, regarding our demand for Britain to push Turkey to abide by the Court’s decisions, but obviously, he said, “not much has been achieved”.
The President informed Mr Offord that the Turkish authorities have never carried out any effective investigations on the fate and whereabouts of Greek Cypriot missing since 1974, and as demanded to do by the European Court of Human Rights since its original judgement in May 2001. They are in-fact hindering the work of the CMP by giving them only very limited access to military areas and by the removal and relocation to unknown places of remains of missing, by the Turkish army. He also pointed out, from the CMP records that due to lack of reliable information, many of the graves opened by the CMP in non-military areas had produced no remains at all, which was a waste of time and money. And this because Turkey refuses to give the information it has about the whereabouts of those captured by the Turkish army, or fallen in the occupied part of Cyprus.
It is obvious that not enough pressure has been put on Turkey to do that. We would like to see the British Government, at the next meeting in Strasbourg in June 15, to be more forceful in its demand for Turkey to do the right thing and abide by the Court’s decisions.
Mr Offord said that he will be putting questions in parliament on this issue. He will also arrange another meeting with the Minister for Europe to discuss the problem of our missing. He will also request that the UK Government contribute further funds to the CMP so that it could be in a position to carry out more DNA tests on remains that have been exhumed but not yet identified. This is due to the fact that the CMP spends almost half of its limited funds on excavation of areas where no remains are found (reliable evidence can only come from the Turkish authorities but they are unwilling to provide).
Mr Offord was asked if he could help in organising a meeting in the House to once again to bring the issue to the attention of the MPs and Government. Mr Fotiou, Commissioner for ex-pats and human rights issues, would be invited to attend and participate in the meeting.
Mr Offord was only too happy to arrange that as soon as possible and before the General Elections in May.
He will be talking to other Cyprus APPG members and will be advising us.