Sweden to Investigate Finding of Mass Graves in Turkey

OSLO–The finding of a mass grave in southeastern Turkey, believed to date from the 1915, and the Turkish government’s silence regarding the finding has prompted a debate in the Swedish parliament on the matter. On October 17 villagers from Xirabebaba (Kuru) in southeastern Turkey came across a mass grave when digging a grave for one of their deceased. The villagers took pictures of the skulls and bones in the mass grave before Turkish military came and blocked the site. The villagers were certain that they had found remains of victims of the 1915 genocide. The military personnel forbade the villagers to tell anyone about the site and then closed it. Some of the villagers chose not to follow the orders of the military and told the story to a local newspaper who followed up on the story. As soon as the military learned that someone has leaked this information to the press, they pressed the villagers to give the names of those responsible for this. Since then journalists trying to get near the mass grave have been denied access by the military. In Sweden the matter has stirred up a debate on the highest levels The news about the mass finding was distributed by Tidningarnas Telegrambyr, Sweden’s top news agency and was thereafter published in several Swedish media, including the two leading morning papers Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet. Swedish parliament member Hans Linde from the left party recently submitted an request to the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, asking for an independent commission of scientists and historians to examine the findings. The foreign minister must now ask the foreign ministry to launch an investigation into the matter. One of Turkey’s most popular weekly magazines, Nokta, has highlighted the mass grave finding with a cover story in the latest issue with the main heading "Again acting the three monkeys – a mass grave was found one month ago in Nusaybin and the judicial, executive and legislative bodies as well as the media are silent." The writer, Talin Suciyan, accuses the Turkish state of turning a deaf ear to the mass grave finding. "None of the three ‘powers’ of our democracy–legislative, judicial or executive–made a move to deal with the issue. And when the fourth power–the media–swept the bones under the carpet (the Turkish) public remained completely unaware of the issue." The only Turkish group that has reacted to the finding is the Turkish Human Rights Association who sent an open letter to the ministry of interior calling for an investigation into the matter.


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