Mass Graves in Turkey: Kurdish Rebels

Many fragments of bones and skulls have been uncovered during ongoing excavations in a large trash dump in the Mutki district of Bitlis province, where recent excavations have started to shed light on unsolved murders in the region.

Eight members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) organization, including two women, are believed to have been buried at the site after they were killed in a clash 17 years ago. Human Rights Association (İHD) Muş branch President Vedat Şengöl said work continues on the site where the bones were found. He also added that the excavations continued after trash at the dump was removed.

Research carried out at the site, located near a gendarmerie command post, began on Jan. 6. The remains of 12 human bodies were found in the excavations. Nine people who came to Mutki from the town of Güroymak to join the PKK and three other PKK members were killed as security forces opened fire on them in 1999. They were buried together. They were allegedly killed as a result of the activities of an illegal network inside the gendarmerie called JİTEM.

Enis Gül, head of the Bitlis Bar Association, said the digs were begun upon the suspicion that there could be “another mass grave.” The particular area that was excavated as part of the investigation was chosen based on information in an application the Bitlis Prosecutor’s Office received about six months ago, tipping investigators off as to the possible location of the bodies.

The younger brother of one of the victims said his brother was killed on the orders of retired Col. Arif Doğan and claimed that his brother was killed after surrendering to security forces.

RECAİ DENİZ, BİTLİS

Today’s Zaman

21 January 2011

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