Turkey's Kurdish minority unearths justice at last
In August 1993, a farmer from a village near this dusty town on the banks of the Tigris rode off to a nearby village and never returned. The only indication Nadir Nayci's family had of what happened to him was the return of his horse, which came limping home the next day.
"We haven't had any happiness since my father disappeared. We're always wondering where he was taken and ... what was done to him," says Ramazan Nayci. "I'm hoping his bones will be found. We want to know that our father has a proper grave, a place we can visit and pray at."
For Mr. Nayci – and other relatives of 6,500 Kurds who either disappeared or were killed during Turkey's 15-year war with separatist Kurdish guerrillas, which was concentrated here in the country's southeast – that possibility is suddenly closer than ever. The catalyst is a high-profile investigation of a plot to overthrow Turkey's government, which has landed formerly untouchable military figures in jail, emboldening Kurds to uncover the injustices of a not-so-distant past.
In June, the first missing person's case was successfully resolved as part of a wave of searches inspired by the so-called Ergenekon investigation, named for the shadowy right-wing group with ties to the military that it is targeting. The recently discovered remains of another Cizre farmer, Hasan Ergul, missing since 1995 after allegedly being picked up by a plainclothes policeman, were identified and his family buried him in their village.
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