No investigation has been initiated regarding the skeletal remains found at Zilan

No investigation has been initiated regarding the skeletal remains found at Zilan
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When the waters of the dam built on the stream in Zilan Valley receded, human bones were unearthed. Despite the petition made to the prosecutor's office, no investigation has been initiated in the two weeks since.

According to Arti Gercek, upon the drop in water level on December 12, 2022, at the Kockopru Dam which was built on the stream in Geliyê Zîlan (Zilan Valley), a significant number of human bones were unearthed. Zilan Valley, located in the Ercis district of the Van province, had been the site of a massacre on July 13, 1930. Led by the Van Bar Association Human Rights Center, the Human Rights Foundation (IHD), Lawyers for Freedom Foundation (OHD) Van Branch, and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) Van Representative, and Van Historical Artifacts Conservation Research and Development Association (Cev-Der), conducted examinations when they visited the field on December 22.

Drawing from the examination and their findings, the lawyers submitted a petition to the Ercis Chief Public Prosecutor's Office for the collection and examination of the bones washed up on the shore.


IHD Van Branch Manager, Attorney Jiyan Ozkaplan, noting that they went to the region and conducted investigations after learning about the incident from the press, provided the following information:

“There are hundreds of villages in addition to the Kockopru Dam around Zilan Creek. Bones appeared in this area. We visited the area the bones were found as a six-person delegation. As soon as we made our way to the place the dam water had dried up, we encountered bones. Bones were visible both on the surface and when we dug open the soil. There were too many. Hundreds of bones, if not more — because we couldn't go any further. We took a few photos, took a video, and conducted an examination."


Stating that the bones that were discovered belonged to humans, Ozkaplan continued: "The bones we found belonged to the skull, the human jaw, the spine, and the femur. After we cataloged the bones, we filed a report petition with the Ercis Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and had a meeting with the Prosecutor’s Office during which we explained the situation, presented the photos we took, and asked for the bones to be preserved because we do not know to whom they belong. We applied to the Prosecutor's Office on December 22, 2022, but we have not received any information yet. The bones are still laying out in the open. Normally, the Prosecutor's Office should have opened an investigation ex officio without us needing to report it. However, instead of the Prosecutor's Office, we are taking action. Even after two weeks have passed, no decisions have been made, and neither investigations nor measures to close the area off have been initiated. We encounter this situation frequently. This is a case of not conducting an effective investigation. And as long as this continues, the rate of other arbitrary situations will increase."


The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Van Deputy Tayip Temel brought the bones to the agenda of the Parliament. The Parliamentary Investigation motion that resulted reminded Parliament of the Zilan Massacre in the region and requested that the unearthed bones be examined. (MA)