The recent discovery of human bones in the Mutki district of Bitlis province has brought renewed attention to mass graves in eastern Anatolia, where unsolved murders have created a “mystical” culture around the deaths.
Local residents tell supernatural stories about ghosts and the bodies of relatives who went missing in the region years ago and have never been found. Some are believed to have been killed after being detained by security forces, while other unidentified mass graves are thought to hold the remains of murdered members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Human Rights Association, or İHD, has been collecting information about places where mass graves might be located. One such tip came from Ahmet Müslüm Sadioğlu, the voluntary imam of the Başkale district of Van province. His father, mother, brother, uncle, aunt and cousin went missing while herding their animals in 1994. Sadioğlu, who was doing his military service at the time, was later informed by soldiers that the family had been killed by members of the outlawed PKK on Çiringiz Mountain.
“[Your family members] did not become village guards. Look what happened to them,” Sadioğlu said the soldier told him. When he asked for the bodies of his relatives, he was detained and kept in custody for three days.
DİYARBAKIR – Daily News with Radikal
January 24, 2011
For a map of the discovered graves, see: www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=the-bone-map-of-eastern-anatolia-2011-01-24