The Cypriot Community and SEKA have strongly reacted to provocations from the Turkish Cypriots in Melbourne

8 July, 2024

Marking the 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Northern Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots in Melbourne are planning to “celebrate 50 years of peace in Cyprus,” despite the occupation and pseudo-state not being recognised by the UN. As part of their events, they are organising a march in central Melbourne and have invited Australian MPs to join, which has sparked a strong response from the Cypriot Community of Melbourne and SEKA.

Under these circumstances, SEKA sent a letter in response to Turkish misinformation, provided below, along with the original invitation.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

TURKISH CYPRIOTS – CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF PEACE ON CYPRUS

Turkish Cypriots around the world including Melbourne, are preparing to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Peace in Cyprus which was established following the restricted military operation by Turkey on 20th July, 1974.  This action was brought about as a response to the Greek Coup d’etat on 15 July 1974 aimed at achieving ENOSIS (union with Greece).  

Our community in Melbourne is planning to hold a peace parade in the CBD on Saturday 20 July 2024, commencing at 12 noon at Parliament House in Spring St and finishing at Federation Square.  

We are expecting several thousand community members to take part.  All relevant authorities have been notified.  As elected Members of Parliament you are invited to take part and or otherwise engage with us in support of our community.

Essentially, the intervention of the Turkish Government, as a guarantor power, in 1974 established two distinct and separate entities – Greek Cypriot controlled South Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) administered by Turkish Cypriots.

Historical evidence clearly shows that both communities have now undisputedly enjoyed 50 years of peace since then.  

A more detailed summary of the Cyprus situation is attached below for your information.  For further media enquiries please contact the following members of the organising committee.

Hasan Sayar and Ahmet Ali

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Esteemed Member of Parliament,

As representatives of the Greek and Greek-Cypriot communities, we are writing to express their alarm at the email invitation sent to you by a group aligned with the illegal regime in the north of Cyprus that refers to itself as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”).

This invitation attempts to rewrite history with misinformation and outright lies, and seeks to legitimise the illegal Turkish military invasion and occupation of 37% of Cyprus in 1974. It cannot go unanswered, and puts parliamentarians at risk of breaching Australia’s foreign policy position.

The UN, the EU, and indeed every country in the world other than Turkey does not recognise the “TRNC”. The Australian Government position (which by extension applies to the Victorian Government) is clearly stated on the Department of Foreign Affairs web site. It states:

Australia supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and recognises the Republic as the only legitimate authority on the island. Australia does not recognise the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.

We therefore write to inform you of the potential breach of protocol should any Member of Parliament attend or engage with the proposed event in support of the “TRNC”.

There are clear reasons for the position held by the Australian Government and the wider international community. These reasons are ignored in the document you received.

Historical Facts

The Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 was no more a peacekeeping intervention by Turkey (as claimed in the email) than Putin’s invasion and land grab in Ukraine. Or the Azerbaijan Dictatorship’s military takeover of Armenian ancestral lands backed by Turkey, which included the forced displacement of 100,000 Armenians.

Contrary to what the email states, the 1974 coup d’état by a group seeking to unite Cyprus with Greece lasted for only 5 days. Yet Turkey nevertheless over a period of two months pressed ahead with invading Cyprus and occupying 37% of the island by military force.

Approximately 9,000 Greek Cypriots lost their lives with 270 Turkish Cypriot civilians and 500 Turkish soldiers also killed.

175,000 Greek Cypriots (a third of their population) were forcefully removed from their ancestral homes, and 200,000 Turkish settlers were subsequently brought in from the Anatolian region of mainland Turkey, many of whom now occupy Greek Cypriot homes. This resettlement is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.

Moreover this de facto partitioning of the island violated the Treaty of Guarantee in its entirety, for the Treaty was created and agreed to by Britain, Greece, and Turkey specifically in order to rule out partition and enosis, and it expressly prohibits “partition of the Island”. Ironically, this is the Treaty which Turkey uses to justify its “intervention”!

Australia along with other countries has contributed to the UNICEF force that has kept the two sides apart for 50 years through a no man’s land or “Green Line” that separates the Turkish-occupied area from the free area of Cyprus.

It is deeply insulting and hurtful to 350,000 Greeks and Greek Cypriots in Victoria to paint the occupation as “50 years of peace”. Not only does this deny and negate the trauma and loss for Greek Cypriots, but it ignores the fact that Turkish Cypriots are now a minority in the Turkish-occupied territory, and their unique culture is rapidly being overwhelmed.

How did this new attempt to divide, rather than unify Cyprus take hold?

Recently, a new right-wing extremist “government” was installed in the Turkish-occupied territory with strong support and intervention from Turkey.

This new regime has rejected the long-standing position of both communities as well as the UN and the EU in seeking a bicommunal, bizonal, federal system. Instead, the new “president” of the “TRNC” is pushing to partition the island permanently and legitimise the occupation through the recognition of the “TRNC” as an entirely separate state.

He recently visited Australia and tried to whip up support for this policy. In response, the Australian Government notified all States that the so-called “President of the TRNC” was not to be engaged with in any official capacity.

Unfortunately, he was in fact met by a very small number of MP’s, including one at a high level of Government. Such actions jeopardise the voices of moderate Turkish-Cypriots who for five decades have sought unification, and do not wish for the north of Cyprus to be dominated by hardline Turkish elements.

The continued interference by the unrecognised “TRNC” and its Turkish supporters also led to attempts to establish a Victorian Parliamentary Friendship Group with the Azerbaijan Dictatorship.  These divisive actions and interferences in our political system cannot go unchallenged.

The invasion and continued occupation of Cyprus violates democracy, human rights, and international law

Turkey was found guilty by the European Commission of Human Rights for multiple human rights abuses (including rape and torture) during the invasion; and their policy of violently forcing a third of the island’s Greek Cypriot population from their homes, occupying the land, destroying cultural heritage and settling mainland Turks is ethnic cleansing.

Even now in the “TRNC”-administered area, significant human rights abuses continue to be documented against civilians. This includes restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, violence or threats of violence against journalists, substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, restrictions on freedom of movement, serious corruption, and trafficking in persons, including forced labour.

Victorians stand for peace, equality, human rights, the rule of law, and justice. We urge you to reject this latest attempt to garner support for the illegitimate “TRNC”, and to uphold Australia’s bipartisan official government position.

We ask that you, as Members of the Victorian Parliament, consider the serious implications of providing a platform to a regime with a documented history of human rights abuses.

We hope you will take a principled stance on this matter and join us in upholding the values of peace, human rights, the rule of law, and justice that are central to our community.

Should you wish to show support with the cause for a united and free Cyprus in line with the international community’s wishes, we invite you to join the official commemorative event at Federation Square on 21 July at 2pm. (See https://seka.org.au/activities.html for details.)

We look forward to seeing you there.

Yours sincerely

Pavlos Andronikos,                                          Hon. Theo Theophanous,
President, ΣEKA Victoria*                                 President, Cyprus Community
                                                                       of Melbourne & Victoria

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