Duvar EnglishKilled PKK militant's body sent to family by cargo
Twenty-six years after his death and the transport of his bones from one end of the country to the next, Sabiha Altıntaş finally received the remaining bones of her son following the results of a DNA test conducted on exhumed bodies in an Istanbul cemetery.
Altıntaş's son Burhan joined the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 1992 and she never saw him again. In 1994, he was killed in a skirmish between the PKK and security forces in a rural part of Bitlis, the southeastern province from which the family hails.
The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the E.U.
Altıntaş learned of her son's death much later, eventually finding out in 2014 that he was buried in the Garzan cemetery in Bitlis. Upon hearing the news that the Garzan cemetery was demolished in December 2017, Altıntaş once again began to search for her son's body. The DNA test results concerning its location were confirmed last year.Remains of 261 corpses buried in boxes on top of one another in Istanbul cemetery
Some 282 bodies in the cemetery were transported to Istanbul in late 2017 without the knowledge of the families of the deceased. They were put in plastic boxes and stacked on top of one another and buried under a sidewalk near a cemetery in the Black Sea village of Kilyos, located in the northernmost part of Istanbul. As of May 21, at least 21 families had received the remains of their relatives following DNA test results.
“For years I lived with the longing that one day my son would return and hug me, instead I am hugging a plastic box of bones in my lap,” Altıntaş said.
After leaving Istanbul and making their way back toward Bitlis, Altıntaş said they were repeatedly stopped by police or military vehicles, asked for their identification and documentation regarding the body, and made to wait for hours. When they returned to their home village, the cemetery was surrounded by the military, and only family members were allowed inside to bury the remains.