Minority Report

By Hitchens, Christopher | The Nation, May 28, 1988 | Go to article overview

Minority Report


Hitchens, Christopher, The Nation


MINORITY REPORT. CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

Although he is Chilean and might have drawn upon an example nearer to hand, Ariel Dorfman set his novel Widows in Greece. Possibly this was to lend resonance to the theme he describes in the dedication--the theme of "the missing":

Taken from their homes in the dead of night or abducted in open dayliht on the streets, these people are never seen again. Their relatives are left not just without their loved ones but without any certainty about whether they are alive or dead. The "missing" are deprived of more than their homes, their livelihoods, their children. They ar also deprived of their graves.

It is from Sophocles' Antigone that generations have rediscovered the appalling nature of desecration; the unforgivable blow that is dealt to humanity by the refusal of obsequies.

One month ago Costas Kassapis came to Washington to testify before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Of Greek Cypriot origin, Kassapis has been an American citizen for twenty-nine years. For the past fourteen of those years he has been reliving the moment when he saw his son taken away at gunpoint. Andrew was 17 at the time. The Turkish Army, embarked on the second wave of its invasion of Cyrus, had occupied the village of Asha in August of 1974. After keeping the inhabitants hostage in their homes for eleven days, the army stated to round people up. As they dragged Andrew from the house, his father pressed his American passport inot his hands, in what turned out to be the vain hope that it would serve as a talisman.

The name of Andrew Kassapis later appeared on the Turkish military's list of prisoners to be released to the International Red Cross. And a witness who was in the Amasia Prison in Turkey has testified repeatedly that he knew of Andrew's presence in the jail as late as October 1974. So here we have a rare case, in which the abductors cannot deny knowledge as part of the chaos of wartime.

There are, in fact, 1,619 Greek and Greek Cyriot persons who are still missing from that summer. Many of them were photographed while in Turkish captivity, others were named in Turkish accounts of prisoners taken, and some were even allowed to broadcast over the Turkish propaganda radio. But not one has ever been seen alive again. Eight of these "disappeared" are American citizens, yet, by comparison to the Americans held hostage in Iran or kednapped in Beirut, almost nothing is ever said about them.

But the conditions for a demarche by the United States are rather propitious. These eight men were not kidnapped and stuffed into a car by persons unknown. They were not taken by agents of a power that is hostile to the United States. They were taken prisoner by a signatory to the Geneva Convention; their captivity was notified to the Red Cross; and the army that took them prisoner is a close ally, not to say dependent, of Washington. Why, then, should Costas Kassapis be left to fight his battle alone?

In February of this year he was told, by Senator Donald Riegle Jr. …

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