EMU CWS and Committee on Missing Persons Organise a Panel
Organised by the Eastern Mediterranean University Center for Women’s Studies on the occasion of 8 March International Women’s Day, a panel titled “Reckoning with the Past” took place with the participation of the Turkish Cypriot members of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) at Mustafa Afşin Ersoy Hall at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, 25 March 2019.
Following the opening address of the Chair of the Center for Women’s Studies Assoc. Prof. Dr. Süheyla Üçışık Erbilen, the aforesaid Center’s research staff Expert Bilcan Bladanlı delivered a speech on the aim and importance of the panel. The panel which took place under the moderatorship of Central Executive Board Member Prof. Dr. Fatma Güven Lisaniler hosted the presentations of CMP member Gülden Plümer Küçük, Member Assistant and Research Coordinator Mine Balman, Field Coordinator Expert Archaeologist Demet Karşılı, Laboratory Coordinator Forensic Anthropologist İstenç Engin and Geneticist and Identification Coordinator Gülbanu Zorba.
“The Women Chasing the Truth”
Delivering the first presentation, CMP Turkish Cypriot Member Gülden Plümer Küçük provided general information about CMP, with a specific focus on the committee’s duties and responsibilities in the United Nations. Emphasising the fact that all members of the committee are females, Küçük also highlighted the importance of gender mainstreaming in communities. Küçük stated that whilst women are making their career choices, they choose professions as teachers and nurses as they prioritise their public duties. Küçük added that like the women who work in the aforesaid committee, all women may successfully contribute to the society by undertaking serious and important jobs as scientists, and career professionals.
“927 Missing Persons were Returned to Families”
Stating the aim of the Committee as the recovery of the persons listed missing as a result of the tragic events in 1963-1964 and 1974 periods from burial sites, identification of their remains and their return to their families, Küçük stated that a total of 2,002 (1,510 Greek Cypriots and 492 Turkish Cypriots) persons have been recorded as missing. Putting forth that 927 missing persons from both communities have been identified and returned to their families for a dignified burial, Küçük stated that 681 of them were Greek Cypriots and 246 were Turkish Cypriots.
Taking the floor after Küçük, CMP Turkish Cypriot Member Assistant and Research Coordinator Mine Balman stated that only 20% of the missing persons are women and that it was the children and women who suffered the most during the war period as high numbers of males were missing. Balman also provided some information on the research methods employed by the Committee. Emphasising the predominance of women in the committee, Balman added that the most important victims of destructive wars brought by male-dominant societies are in fact women and children. Balman also touched upon the importance of communicating with the victims and invited all persons who wish to share information pertaining to missing persons in anonymity to contact the committee members via the phone number 181.
Providing information about the archaeological phase of the excavations, Field Coordinator and Expert Archaeologist Demet Karşılı stated that a total of 34 archaeologists and 8 different teams operate under the committee countrywide. Karşılı added that the search for missing persons have taken place in the mountains, rivers and open fields. Talking about the importance of drones in their operations, Karşılı also stressed the significance of the use of technological tools in tracking geographical changes. Stating that the CMP’s Anthropological Laboratory is located within the United Nations protected area, Laboratory Coordinator and Forensic Anthropologist İstenç Engin provided information on the separation and classification methods of remains of missing persons.
“End of Search ”
Identification Coordinator and Geneticist Gülbanı Zorba provided information on the multidisciplinary approaches they adopt in the determination of the gender, age and height of the missing persons from their remains. After formal identification, the remains are handed over to the missing person’s family for burial, with CMP psychologists providing emotional and practical support.Zorba added that this stage is a very emotional both for them and their families, but the family and the relatives of the missing person come to terms with their loss and a healing or a closure process starts for the long-suffered sadness, pain, longing and curiosity. The family who finds the missing is now relieved as they now have a place to visit the person. The panel ended with a question and answer session.