Cablegate: Missing Persons Committee's First Remains Handover
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHNC #0506/01 1631406
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121406Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY NICOSIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7908
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0870
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NICOSIA 000506
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE, IO/UNP
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV UN CY TU
SUBJECT: MISSING PERSONS COMMITTEE'S FIRST REMAINS HANDOVER
REF: A. EMBASSY NICOSIA-EUR/SE EMAILS OF 04/03/07
C. 06 NICOSIA 925
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Genetics testing and anthropological
investigations have positively identified the remains of 29
Cypriots who went missing between 1963 and 1974, according to
UN Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) International Member
Christophe Girod. CMP staff will notify families beginning
June 24, with remains handovers occurring shortly thereafter.
Preferring a lay-low approach in deference to relatives'
wishes for privacy, the CMP has made no effort to "prepare
the ground" for positive treatment by Greek- and Turkish
Cypriot media and opinion leaders, a decision Girod
acknowledged could backfire. On the political/diplomatic
front, UN Chief of Mission Michael Moller has urged the two
communities' representatives not to milk the handovers for
political gain; Girod hoped that ambassadors would repeat
Moller's message in their regular contacts. END SUMMARY.
Into the Home Stretch....Finally
2. (SBU) The last nine months have seen the CMP's
predictions for the commencement of remains handovers slip
and slip again (Refs). To gauge the Committee's progress --
in recent communications with the diplomatic community, it
claimed the first tranche was set for late June -- PolChief
June 12 called on International Member Girod, a Swiss
formerly with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Visibly upbeat, Girod reported that CMP anthropological and
genetic teams had concluded comparisons of 30 sets of
remains, corroborating results on 29. By June 14, the CMP
would stamp them "official." He praised the scientists'
recent work, as CMP members had expected no more than 12
positive IDs from the skeletal fragments gathered so far.
3. (U) Aided by the communities' CMP representatives, Greek
Cypriot Elias Georgiades and Turkish Cypriot Gulden Plumer,
Girod had penned a scenario for the first tranche of
handovers. The Committee would select 10 cases, five G/Cs
and five T/Cs, and begin the notification process June 24.
Georgiades would brief G/C family members, with Plumer
handling notifications in the north; psychologists would
accompany both to provide assistance. Relatives could choose
later to visit the temporary CMP "Family Reception Center"
for viewings and could arrange for transfer of remains on the
spot. Plumer had suggested that most Turkish Cypriots would
opt for this route, as Muslim religious practice allowed for
near-immediate burials; Orthodox practices differed greatly,
Girod noted, meaning that many families might have to collect
the effects well after the initial viewing.
4. (U) Girod would attend the first viewings, accompanied by
the respective community representative. CMP technical staff
also would be available to answer questions on the
investigation, exhumation, and identification process.
Finally, the Committee would prepare for relatives a factual
report on the facts surrounding the find and on the
conditions of remains. While the document could employ
language such as "the cranium contains a 1-centimeter hole
consistent with a close-range gunshot," it explicitly could
not attribute cause of death, as that would exceed the CMP's
1981 UN mandate.
Little Effort to Sway Opinion
5. (SBU) Girod acknowledged that G/C and T/C authorities, as
well as the general public, lacked awareness of the handover
process. Nonetheless, the CMP had opted against a
forward-leaning media approach. It hoped to conduct the
first family notifications low-key and in private, since
respect for relatives' privacy was paramount. The
notifications would not stay secret for long, Girod admitted,
envisioning "Inside Edition-" type journalists showing up on
family members' doorsteps hours afterward. Also worrisome
was the possibility -- or even likelihood -- that certain
survivors might hold up their relatives' deaths as proof of
the other side's barbarism, and in so doing further damage
hopes for inter-communal dialogue and rapprochement.
Cognizant of this potentially negative turn, Eliades and
Plumer were urging him not to select the first ten cases at
random, but rather from a pool of missing whose relatives
were known to hold moderate views. Girod planned to honor
their request, although in future public comments the first
NICOSIA 00000506 002 OF 002
tranche would remain a random sample.
6. (SBU) The sides' representatives, more than himself, were
responsible for relations with their communities and
"governments," Girod added. Once the handover process
commenced, he expected their visibility and workload to
skyrocket. Ensuring that leaders in respective communities
continued to support the CMP's work and respect its
neutrality and apolitical nature was vital, he insisted.
Local UN chief Michael Moller had delivered the same message
in recent meetings with negotiators Tasos Tzionis and Rashid
Pertev; Girod hoped that resident ambassadors would echo
Moller's points whenever possible.