Below is a special report on a mass burial site, found in Mardin (Turkey) last week, believed to be from the Armenian Genocide. Ayse Gunaysu has prepared this special report for Blogian, per my request. Reproduction permitted by a link to Thank you so much, Ayse!



By Ayse Gunaysu, Istanbul
Special for Blogian

There appeared a news item on the first page of the 19th October 2006 issue of the daily Ülkede Özgür Gündem, the Kurdish newspaper published in Turkish, reporting the accidental discovery of a mass burial by villagers in Nusaybin district of Mardin. According to the news item which was accompanied by two photographs showing the skulls and bones, the villagers from Xirabebaba (Kuru) which is said to be an Armenian village formerly, i.e. before 1915, while digging a grave for one of their relatives, came accross a cave and found that there were bones and skulls of around 40 dead bodies. The main entrance to the case had been sealed. The villagers said they believed that those belonged to the 300 Armenians said to be massaccred during the Armenian Genocide. The villagers informed the nearby Akarsu Gendarmerie Headquarters and the army officers there instructed the villagers to cover the entrance to the cave and not to talk anybody, saying that an investigation will be made.

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The villagers said there was only a stone pitcher to drink water and there were half a meter deep cavities in the walls of the cave.

In the 22nd October issue of the Gundem the story of the mass burial was covered in the lead news item in Gundem with the headline "found by villagers covered up by the military". Soldiers from Akarsu gendarmerie headquarters came to the site and covered the entrance found by villagers and took photographs.Press people arriving the place for more information were denied access to the cave. No investigation started by the public prosecutor's office 5 days after the news item appeared in Gundem. Officers from the gendarmery headquarters visited the village pressing the villagers to inform the name of the person who leaked the news to Gundem, telling them that the news given by Roj TV and Ulkede Ozgur Gundem were all lies and warning them not to show the way to the cave to anybody coming to the village to learn more about the mass burial.

Prof. David Gaunt, author of “Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I,” says that the village was neither Armenian nor Syriac and thinks that the victims in the mass burial were very likely the 150 Armenian and 120 Syriac heads of families, thus a total of 270 persons, from Dara (now Oguz) on June 14, 1915.

According to Prof. Gaunt the perpetrators were the death squad based in Mardin, acting on the orders of Halil Adib (Mardin's local CUP leader and criminal court judge) who was acting mutasarrif in Mardin. They were marched out of the town and one person was known to have escaped to tell of what happened. According to this Syriac witness they were murdered and the bodies placed in a well. “The mass burial in this cave suggests that the two groups could have been killed in separate places and that the Armenians were put into this cave while the Syriacs were put in a well” he says.