May 22, 2020
PEOPLES’ Democratic Party MP Leyla Guven appealed for international solidarity today after the sickening discovery of hundreds of Kurdish bodies buried under a pavement on the outskirts of Istanbul.
Footage from the Mesopotamia News Agency showed the remains of the dead packed into small plastic boxes that were stacked on top of each other under a tarmacked pavement in the seaside village of Kilyos, part of the Sariyer district of Turkey’s largest city.
Ms Guven sent a message to the Morning Star appealing for support from human-rights organisations.
“Not only their families but the entire Kurdish people are being tortured psychologically and human rights are being violated. You can be the voice of hundreds of aggrieved families,” she said.
The 261 dead were members of Kurdish guerilla organisations including the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), the Free Women’s Units (YJA-Star), the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).
Most of them were killed in combat against Isis and other jihadist groups in northern Syria.
They were initially buried in Yukari Olek, a village in Bitlis province in Turkey’s largely Kurdish south-east, being laid to rest in the Garzan Cemetery of Martyrs that had been built in 2013 by the relatives of the dead.
But in December 2017, the Turkish state ordered the destruction of the cemetery, fuelling allegations that the government had begun “targeting the dead” following the collapse of peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The bodies were exhumed and taken to Istanbul, where they were believed to have been buried in the Kilyos Jewish cemetery in a section for “the nameless.”
The remains of just 21 of the 282 martyrs were handed over to their families and the remainder have now been found under the pavement.
Members of the Istanbul HDP and people from the Anyakay solidarity association for those who have lost relatives held a vigil after Thursday’s shocking discovery.
They lamented the lack of respect accorded to the dead, saying that this is among the fundamental values of human dignity.
HDP provincial co-chair Erdal Avci said: “Graves and places of worship are the oldest testimonies of human civilisation. The disturbance of the rest of the dead and a degrading treatment of corpses is a crime unworthy of humanity.
“The treatment of the dead from Garzan, who were buried under a pavement here in Kilyos, is disrespectful and abhorrent and reflects the mentality of the enemy.
“We demand that the attacks on our dead and their resting places finally come to an end.”