Around 40 skulls believed to belong to the victims of numerous unsolved murders in the 1990s have been found in a cave in Turkey and experts they may have been killed by Turkish spies.
The site was found at Gulbis Cave in the district of Dargecit in the south-eastern Turkish province of Mardin.
According to reports, Fevzi Adsiz, the chairman of the Human Rights Association of Mardin, believes the skulls belong to the victims of forced disappearances in the 1990s, most likely linked to the Gendarmerie Intelligence Organisation (JITEM), a clandestine state security unit that was active in the Kurdish-Turkish conflict.
Irfan Yakut, whose father suddenly went missing after being arrested in 1993, told the local authorities that he had seen a number of bones at Gulbis Cave and requested an investigation.
A subsequent probe discovered the skulls of around 40 victims and the area was cordoned off to everyone except Yakut, according to reports.
Yakut told local media: “They’ll carry out DNA examinations. We hope they belong to those seeking them if they are not ours. The closure will be good for everyone.”
The remains have reportedly been sent to the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute for further examination.
According to local media, hundreds of people were subjected to informal arrests and executions during the height of the conflict between the Turkish state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In the district of Dargecit, dozens of people disappeared and their remains have never been found.
The US State Department’s 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices said that Turkey has been responsible for numerous arbitrary killings, disappearances and suspicious deaths of people in custody including “former opposition members of parliament, lawyers, journalists, foreign citizens, and employees of the U.S. Mission, for purported ties to ‘terrorist’ groups or peaceful legitimate speech”.
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