Published March 13, 2018
The family of Haukur Hilmarsson, who reportedly fell in combat in Afrin, Syria, have released a statement criticising the “ineffectualness” and lack of responsibility being taken by authorities.
As Haukur’s family continue their search for any signs of where Haukur or his remains might be, they have been met with conflicting reports and a lack of clarity that have frustrated their efforts. This morning, Haukur’s mother, Eva Hauksdóttir, released a statement on behalf of his family and supporters.
According to the statement, while one of Haukur’s compatriots in the fighting confirmed he was killed in action, his remains have not been recovered. There have been no findings in any area hospitals or clinics, either. As such, the Icelandic police are treating this as a missing persons matter until positive identification can be made.
Eva spoke yesterday with the civil service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She says that while the Ministry has been in touch with numerous consuls and embassies, they have not yet tried to make direct contact with Turkish consuls, military or police.
“It was very striking to Haukur’s friends and family to see the government treat the search for his remains as if we were talking about some regular lost item, especially as they were telling stories that built up hope that he might be alive,” the statement continues. “Haukur’s mother tried to contact the Foreign Minister just before noon but he didn’t answer. She sent an email three hours later where she demanded that he focus on this matter and get in touch. The Foreign Minister has considered himself too important to respond.”
Later that same day, Haukur’s family met with the Foreign Ministry and the Icelandic police. They learned that over the past four days, Icelandic authorities had made no substantial effort to contact Turkish authorities. Questions sent to the Turkish embassy in Norway did not even include photos or a description of Haukur that could help identify him. All this they were only able to find out after demanding to meet with the Minister and refusing to leave until he agreed to the meeting.
“We want to thank the employees of the Foreign Ministry and the police for their warm thoughts and the friendliness they have shown us,” the statement says. “We do not doubt their sympathies, and their desire to resolve this issue, but their ineffectualness is alarming, and we cannot see that anyone bears responsibility for the flow of information.”
Haukur’s friends and family will also meet with the Ministry today, with the aim of “making them aware that when a country is in a military organisation with Iceland [NATO] and kills an Icelandic citizen, the Foreign Ministry cannot behave as if the military of this other country just shot a stray dog. We demand that the Foreign Ministry sees to it that they make immediate and direct contact with the authorities in Turkey and NATO to find out if Haukur is alive or dead. Furthermore, if Turkey has Haukur’s remains, that the Ministry sees to it that they are returned to Iceland.”
UPDATE 17:18: In response to the criticism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told RÚV that they have been in communication with Turkish authorities “through the traditional channels”. The police say they have contacted Interpol and Europol regional offices in Greece, Syria and Turkey. Neither of these Icelandic authorities have yet received a response from Turkey.
21:17: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, met with the Turkish Foreign Minister yesterday, and told Vísir that the case has always been top priority, saying that they would do everything in their power to bring Haukur back home.