New Kurdish mass grave to be unearthed in southeast Turkey

Another mass grave in the Tatvan district of Bitlis province will soon be excavated, according to officials from the Human Rights Association (İHD).

Some 33 people are believed to lie in a grave called Geliye Karoka by locals in Tatvan, Sami Görendağ, the İHD’s Van branch secretary, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, adding that the group was waiting for official procedures to be completed before excavation began.

“It is in a very high location. I believe the excavation may need to wait until May due to the snow,” İHD Bitlis Branch Head Hasan Ceylan told the Daily News.

Görendağ also said they had been receiving intelligence on another mass grave in the Başkale district of Van and expected to make an announcement on the development soon.

The recent discovery of human bones in the Mutki district of Bitlis has brought renewed attention to mass graves in eastern Anatolia. 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 İHD has been collecting information about places where mass graves may be located.

The Bitlis branch has also made an application to excavate three other sites in Mutki.

The Turkish Gendarmerie General Command on Tuesday broke its weeks-long silence on Mutki and said the bodies belonged to PKK members killed in clashes in 1999 and were buried after autopsies were performed with the knowledge of public prosecutors.

“The bodies were buried after the proper licenses were obtained,” the statement said.

The statement was deemed a “confession to the crime” by Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, co-leader Gülten Kışanak, who called on doctors, police and the burial teams who had firsthand knowledge of the original burials to come out and talk.

Mutki Mayor Mehmet Saik Birlik spoke to daily BirGün and said the bodies were buried with their clothes on, suggesting they had not been examined medically at all. The mayor said they would file criminal complaints against all relevant parties.

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
February 9, 2011

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