Bodies removed from Garzan still not delivered to families

No developments have come after the Bitlis Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that the bodies removed from the Garzan Cemetery would be delivered to the families.

No developments have come after the Bitlis Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that the bodies removed from the Garzan Cemetery would be delivered to the families. Lezgin Bingöl said the prosecutor’s office had told them that the body of their daughter would be delivered and said, “There have been no development yet.”

After 267 bodies were removed from the Garzan Cemetery in the Upper Ölek (Oleka Jor) village of Bitlis and taken to the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institution (Adli Tıp Kurumu - ATK), the Bitlis Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had issued a statement that the bodies would be delivered to the families shortly due to public outcry.

Lezgin Bingöl was among the families the Bitlis Chief Prosecutor’s Office met with on January 16, and was told his daughter’s body would be delivered to them in a couple of days. But it has since come to light that none of the families have had their bodies identified since the meeting with the prosecutor, and some families say the number of bodies in the ATK is increasing every day on account of new bodies being brought from various cemeteries.


Lezgin Bingöl said he can’t erase the image of the bodies being removed from the Garzan Cemetery and the remaining debris: “It could very well be the moment I have been most ashamed of my humanity in my life. There is only debris now where just a short time ago a huge cemetery stood. How can that be? At some point I felt like I was not alive anymore. But I was face to face with a reality, all graves including my daughter’s grave had been dug up, the bodies had been taken and the cemetery had been torn to the ground by construction equipment. When I first told my wife, she stared dead in the face at me, the color disappeared from her face and she collapsed. She was in and out for two days.”

Bingöl said he had always been proud of his daughter Dilan Bingöl for her fight against ISIS: “We felt like we were in our daughter’s debt because she was part of such a historic resistance. That is why we buried her in the Garzan Martyrs’ Cemetery as per her will, in a way that would be worthy of her. My daughter’s grave was like our roots in the ground. Now we feel like uprooted trees.”


Bingöl said no developments came after their meeting with the Bitlis Prosecutor’s Office and said the following on the process: “The Bitlis Prosecutor’s Office called me. They both informed me and said they did make a statement before, but the public wasn’t aware of it. They said my daughter’s body would be delivered without the DNA processing, and that would take a couple of days. They told me that other families should also go and appeal. But we haven’t received the body yet. We want our bodies to be delivered without any more delays. The prosecutor should remember that if he is a citizen of this country, the administration can’t just run things according to their thought system or arbitrarily, and stand against them if necessary. We must constantly demand our bodies from the authorities and be insistent in our demand.”

Bingöl said they are planning to bury their daughter in a cemetery in Tatvan close to their home: “To tell the truth, this is how it’s going to be, but wherever we bury her a piece of our spirituality will be left in Garzan.”


Another of the 267 bodies removed from the Garzan Cemetery was Fedakar Turan’s. His mother Nuriye Turan said there have been no developments in the petition they submitted to the prosecutor’s office one month ago: “We submitted a petition to the prosecutor’s office here, and my children appealed in Istanbul Human Rights Association. My children met with the Istanbul ATK countless times, but we have achieved no results. Most recently the prosecutor’s office told us that the families would be called in and they would take blood samples. So they should call us, and we will give the blood samples. Wherever my son’s bones are, we want to receive them as soon as possible. We haven’t been sleeping for months. As a mother, I’m not asking for too much, I want a gravestone where I can go to pray.”