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Friday, May 05, 2006

Census takes place in the occupied North

Turkish Cypriot authorities have this week carried out a census of the population in the occupied North. The government of RoC has refused in advance to recognize the results of the census ... describing it as unreliable as it aims to legitimize the illegal settlers from Turkey. Preliminary results of the census, according to (the “Prime Minister of TRNC”) Mr. Ferdi Sabit Soyer, indicate a 31% increase of the population in the breakaway Northern statelet, compared to the results of the last census carried out ten years ago. Here is an article from the Cyprus Weekly that delves into the recent census and the issue of Turkish settlers in greater detail:

Legitimising the war crime of ethnic cleansing

Ethnic cleansing and the consequent deliberate changing of the demographic status of a territory under foreign occupation through the introduction of settlers from the occupying power are both war crimes.

This is an undisputed fact of international law. In the case of Cyprus it is also undisputed that Turkey, as the power occupying north Cyprus, and as such responsible for everything that happens there, is guilty of these twin war crimes: the ethnic cleansing of the Greek Cypriot population of the north and its recplacement by settlers from Turkey.

In a move clearly designed to ``legitimise’’ the presence of the illegal settlers, Turkey and the illegal breakaway state staged a census there this week in which the settlers were counted as members of the Turkish Cypriot population of the region.

As expected, Mehmet Ali Talat defended this trickery saying it was wrong to claim this was designed to legitimise the settlers. The leader of the illegal state went as far as to declare that the census was perfectly legal, conducted on the basis of ``internationally recognised norms". ``There was nothing to hide’’ and ``no need to prove anything to anyone,’’ on the issue of the settlers, who are legitimate citizens of the breakaway state he said.

He further assured the settlers that they had nothing to fear as they were equal citizens to the Turkish Cypriots and that there was no attempt to distinguish them in any way.

Myths

Ferdi Sabit Soyer, the ``prime minister’’ of the breakaway state was even more forthright. He said the census would end what he referred to as ``the myths’’ about the north’s demography. ``We have no need to trick anyone,’’ he said.

What is even more astounding about this situation is that Talat, when he was in opposition, made the presence of the settlers one of the main points of criticism of Rauf Denktash, the then leader of the Turkish Cypriots. Talat attended public rallies then that demanded the withdrawal of the settlers, arguing that they were outnumbering the native Turkish Cypriots with whom they were unable to assimilate!

Following his election and his full dependence on Ankara for survival, Talat has now changed his tune completely, maintaining there is nothing wrong with the presence of the settlers.

But this wrong, or guilt, is fully attested by the numerous United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions and judgements of the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe. The resolutions and the judgements demand an end to this continuous war crime through the withdrawal of the illegal Turkish mainland settlers and the return of the ethnically cleansed Greek Cypriot refugees to their homes and properties that have been usurped by the settlers.

Eternal shame

Turkey contemptuously rejects both the UN resolutions and the Court judgements. What is most regrettable about this situation is that the international community, and more specifically the United States and the European Union, which are in a position to influence, even pressure, Turkey, to end this continuous war crime against Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot population by complying with the UN resolutions and the Court judgements, choose to do nothing, to their eternal shame.

Not only that, the EU is even considering Turkey as a prospective member of the Union without insisting that it should, at the very least, first become law-abiding by complying with the Court judgements and the UN resolutions. The United States at the same time are exerting as much pressure as they can on the EU to accept Turkey as a full member!

It is hardly surprising that Turkey has become so emboldened by this toleration of its continuing war crimes in Cyprus that it brazenly declares it has done nothing wrong.

No squeak

What is hard to understand about this situation is the lack of a dynamic reaction by the Cyprus government. One would have expected a major continuing campaign to inform the world, and to demand concrete action by the international community, about the continuing Turkish war crimes.

Such a campaign would be even more effective if the ethnic cleansing crime was linked to the equally hideous deliberate action by Turkey to wipe out the Hellenistic and Christian cultural heritage of the occupied north. Like the influx of the settlers, this is also continuing unabated through the deliberate desecration and desruction of Christian churces and ancient Greek sites in an attempt to create the impression that north Cyprus has no Greek or Christian links!

This truly abominable, deliberate uncivilised action by Turkey should prove more than enough for the European Union, which is so anxious about the protection of its cultural heritage, to tell Turkey bluntly it has no hope whatever of joining it, unless it acts in a civilised manner in Cyprus by correcting as soon as possible all the wrongs for which it is fully responsible.

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