Excavation resumed in Çemi?gezek – PART TWO


Locals say there are at least 55 people buried in the fields of Çemi?gezek
Link to part One
The road is still bumpy. The landscapes still breathtaking. Cemisgezen is nearing, hearts start beating faster and faster. Eyes begin to moisten. Finally the destination is on front of us. Wide hilly fields, yellow with wheat. A few trees. On the left the huge gendarmerie post, in front, down hill, two beach umbrellas with policemen all around. Indeed as the land begin to descend there is a cord of heavily armed uniformed and plain clothes policemen. They have cordoned off the entrance to the site where the guerrillas have allegedly been buried. No one can enter the scene, except the lawyers and only after long, exhausting, painful negotiations (all of which is designed to add pain on the 23 years long pain of the families) the relatives (one per family) of the guerrillas are let in to the scene where men have just began to dig.
Axes and shovels, hit and take away the earth. The sun is burning, tears slowly appears. The unbearable pain frozen in these people’s hearts begins to search for a way out. The ice in which the pain has been frozen begins to melt. Hours have passed: it is now 1pm. The lawyers are coming up from downhill to tell the relatives who could not go down to the excavation place what is happening. “Nothing yet – they said” and the place fell in silence. Yet somebody begins to say that the place where the excavation is going on is not right… That piece of land could not be the right one. Maybe is 100 meter North, or 200 South or indeed right into the gendarmerie land. The eye witnesses do not remember exactly the place. They know and they pointed out this field. But the bodies could be some meters away. Someone, local, begins to say that indeed on the opposite side of the excavation scene there are places which are unmistakenly graves. He showed a low hill, on the other side of the road. In the meantime the lawyers come up again and this time they said the prosecutor had demanded to allow a digger to dig some 50 centimeters more as the men can not dig further. Frantic consultation among the families. Allowing a machine to dig like that is not an idea which encounters the favour of many, yet at 2pm pain is becoming harder and harder and the decision is to allow the machine to smoothly move the earth so to allow the men to dig.

Waiting is a terrible thing. Yet waiting for someone who has been waiting for this moment for 23 years is something unbearable. Tension rises. Nerves are on the edge. Tears are marking the faces of these men and women.

In the space of a minute, the men digging (by this stage are the relatives who have been called down to dig as the ‘official’ diggers are exhausted) run up from the official excavation site and run towards the small hill indicated by the local people. Frantically they begin to dig, strenght regained under the burning sun. Every single muscle is tense. One man is digging the other is shoveling away the earth. Here the earth is soft, shaped as a grave. Forty centimeters are excavated in no time. Hearts stop as a piece of wood with a nail in it is recovered. The prosecutor is somewhere else. Clearly the state (the prosecutor today is the state) does not want to admit its crimes. It does not want to recover those bodies. So after years of lies, still more lies are told. Attempts to divert the attention, to dig in the wrong place so to be able to say: we have excavated but there was no mass graves, no bodies.

The people cannot accept this. And thenthey take things in their own hands. The sun burning the faces, the showels scaring the hands of the men. Tears flowing down as the first bones appear.

Small bones first. The pain is too much. Silence falls upon this land. Digging, digging. The long bones start to appear. The men stop. Taken aback by the horror becoming concrete in front of their eyes. And yet the idea that indeed going along with the prosecutor would have simply meant for the case on Cemisgezek to be closed is even more painful. In a way now that the bones are found, families would have some peace. The pain they have kept inside them for so long can finally be released. But on the other hand the pain and cruelty of a reality which one always hopes not to be true has once more being exposed. The Turkish state bares no compassion, no respect for human life.

The prosecutor finally agreed to go to the scene of the new digging. By the evening different sites had been excavated. The bones of seven to nine people recovered. Locals say there are at least 55 people, mostly guerrillas, buried in these fields. Today the excavation has began again. The families have set off for Cemizgezen again early this morning.

The journey back, in the night, was in silence. Time is needed to come to terms with a tragic reality. Time is needed to come to terms with a truth seeked for 23 years and always somehow, maybe uncounsciously removed.

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