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Forensics team doing human rights work in Cyprus

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dirkmaat teaching human rights workers in Cyprus

A forensic anthropology team from Mercyhurst University is in Cyprus this week teaching archaeological recovery methods to membersof the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus.

Dennis Dirkmaat, chair of applied forensic sciences at Mercyhurst, who is well known for his application of archaeological protocols to the recovery of human remains from outdoor scenes, and team members Luis Cabo-Perez, Alexandra Klales and Kathi Staaf are in Cyprus Nov. 23-27.

“Some members of the CMP team attempted to come to our short course in the summer of 2014 but couldn’t get the funding, so they asked if we could put it on in Cyprus, and we have obliged,” Dirkmaat said.

He said the team is presenting the methods, principles and practices that it employs in the U.S. with the hope that the CMP will find some of it applicable to their day-to-day work recovering victims of their civil war in the 1970s.

“We are showing them how we process surface scatters, buried body features, fatal fire victims and mass fatality scenes,” Dirkmaat said. “We will be visiting their laboratory and a mass grave site later this week.”

According to the CMP website: “The primary objective of the CMP is to return the remains of missing persons to their families in order to arrange for a proper burial and close a long period of anguish and uncertainty. Most Cypriot families have been directly or indirectly affected and it is hoped that the healing of old wounds will in turn favor the overall process of reconciliation between both communities. To this end, the project is of a bi-communal nature with teams of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists involved at every stage of the exhumation and identification processes.”