Discovered bones in JİTEM base bring hope for the tombless

Bones of 16 people were discovered during the excavations in JİTEM (Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit) centre in Diyarbakır while 18 families of missing persons applied to HRA (Human Rights Association) for DNA verification. Excavations had been launched following the discovery of human bones during the restoration works in the former JİTEM building in İçkale, known as the address of enforced disappearances and unidentified murders in the region during the 90s. Families now hope to finally find out at least some information about the fate of their disappeared relatives.

One of them is Salih Örhan whose 17-year old son Cezair and brothers Hasan and Mehmet Selim disappeared after being taken away by soldiers during the 90s. Since then, he applied to many authorities, including Seyrek Village Police Station, Kulp and Lice District Police Stations, Diyarbakır Police Department, Gendarmerie, currently abolished State Security Court Attorney and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). None of these applications succeed to have any information about the fate of his relatives.

Another is İrfan Öztürk who tells the story of the disappearance of Vasıf Öztürk who was taken under custody by soldiers in the hamlet of Salkımlı (Firqî), village of Uzunova (Cumar), Kulp as such: “My brother had been in prison for 13 years because of a family issue. He was already old when he was released. He looked after his 6 children by selling tobacco in town as he was unable to work in the fields or constructions. It was the month of June, 1994; operations were continuing in the region. Many villages were burnt and people were forced to leave. My brother and his two friends came to Salkımlı from a neighbour village. Soldiers said to be from Bolu Brigade surrounded them while they were drinking water from the fountain. They took the three of them to the exit of the village and put them in a chopper.”

Öztürk states that the other two men returned but they did not hear from his brother again, noting that they heard that his brother was kept in custody for 25 days in Lice but that they could not verify this information.

M. Mustafa Bayram whose then 18-year old son Mehmet Şirin was taken away by village guards in 1996 has a similar story: Their village was burnt, they faced much oppression and threats after one of his sons joined the PKK and were finally forced to immigrate. Bayram says “That night my son was visiting a villager named Ramazan Tekin. Village guards raided the house and took away my son and the host. When I asked at the local State Security Court Attorney I was told that nobody of that name was taken. Then we went to the village and we found out that my son was taken to Kulp and kept under custody for 5 days. We could get no information about what happened afterwards.”

Mehmet Şirin’s father M. Mustafa Bayram calls on authorities: “I want my son’s bone even if he was murdered.”
Excavation works at the JİTEM base and family applications to the HRA continue.