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Friday, August 14, 2009

Execution of Greek Cypriot POWs

The truth is still missing

(Cyprus Weekly) - Revelations about the summary execution of five Greek Cypriot POWs by the Turks in 1974 have shocked public opinion and rekindled painful memories.

For their families, it is ironic that they should be expected to find solace in news that their loved ones were shot in the head in cold blood and thrown down a well, despite international conventions safeguarding the lives of captured soldiers.

News that a Greek Cypriot family, including two invalid and bedridden children, was murdered by Turkish soldiers in their home in Lapithos that same tragic summer has only added to the fury.

Yet, despite the justified rage within the Greek Cypriot community, it is important for everyone to look beyond.

Relatives of the missing argue that the plight of their loved ones is a humanitarian matter that should not be used to score political points. Their focus, quite justifiably, has been to keep the issue away from politics so as to get to the truth.

But they have also made clear that this does not mean that those responsible should not be held to account for their actions.

Cynics may shrug their shoulders and argue that atrocities are inevitable in any armed conflict. In so doing, they are unwittingly perhaps, coming dangerously close to condoning a crime. Once they do, they are already half way down a slippery slope that negates a whole system of rules and conventions hammered together by the international community in the hope of ensuring a basic minimum of humanity – even in times of war.

That these rules have been blatantly broken too many times all over the world does not make it right.

The day will hopefully come when a Cyprus settlement is reached, and Turkey and Cyprus no longer see themselves as enemies. A full investigation that will bring those responsible of human rights violations during the 1974 invasion to trial will bring that day closer.

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