CHP Tunceli Deputy Hüseyin Aygün called a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday following the discovery of human remains that belong to at least 15 different individuals in a mass grave. The remains were discovered near a gendarmerie station in Tunceli during excavations conducted on the orders of a specially authorized prosecutor last week.
Aygün said the excavation in Tunceli is a chance for Turkey to “confront the reality of mass graves, which left their mark on the darkness of the '90s.” The investigation into the mass grave in Tunceli was launched by the Malatya Specially Authorized Prosecutor Şeref Gürkan following claims that 19 people killed in a clash with gendarmerie forces in 1997 were buried near the Çemişgezek district's Gendarmerie Command. A family member of one of the dead applied to the prosecutor's office demanding an investigation be carried out earlier this year.
Turkey has witnessed the discovery of a large number of mass graves in the country's east and southeast, all of which hold the remains of people believed to have been killed by JİTEM, an illegal unit established inside the gendarmerie forces in the '90s. Aygün said according to data from the Human Rights Association (İHD), there are 1,538 bodies in 113 mass graves in southeast Turkey. He said 194 people have been buried in mass graves in the past 10 years, which shows a decline in the number of people buried in this manner.
Noting that the prosecutors took action on the mass graves upon the complaints of victims' families, Aygün said these graves should all be investigated by a parliamentary commission.