Remains of 261 alleged members of PKK buried next to sewage line, not returned to families, opposition deputy says

The remains of 261 alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that were removed from Garzan Cemetery in Bitlis province in December 2017 were buried in a mass grave next to a sewage line in an İstanbul cemetery and not returned to their families, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Hüda Kaya said in a parliamentary question to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

According to the Mezopotamya news agency, Garzan Cemetery was destroyed and remains of a total of 282 alleged members of the PKK were transferred to the İstanbul Institute of Forensic Medicine. The families learned that the remains were then buried next to a sewage line in a mass grave in the Kilyos district of İstanbul.

In her parliamentary question Kaya said the families applied to the institute several times to get the remains and requested the help of political parties. They have given blood samples for DNA tests, but only 21 families were able to retrieve the remains of their family members.

Kaya defined what happened as unconstitutional and said in Islam it is forbidden to harm the body of an enemy, in apparent reference to ruling Justice and Development Party officials’ frequent use of Islamic terminology in their public speeches.

According to Kaya the remains were put into transparent plastic boxes and buried afterwards. She asked how many of the individuals were identified by the institute and if any tests were being carried out to identify the rest.

The PKK has been leading an armed insurgency against Turkey’s security forces since the ’80s in a campaign that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the US.

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