Embargoed! – Greek Cypriots deny Racism Allegation

UK based Human rights group Embargoed! attended HDIM, an international human rights convention in Warsaw, Poland last week. The Greek Cypriot administration again made insensitive and crude remarks when challenged about the embargoes placed on North Cyprus and the existence of extreme racist elements in South Cyprus.

The OSCE Human Rights Conference is the largest of its kind in Europe and Embargoed! were attending for the fourth consecutive year. They were represented by university students Feriha Tayfur and Esma Helvacioglu. Ms. Tayfur gave a presentation to the working session on tolerance and non-discrimination, highlighting the ongoing isolations imposed on Turkish Cypriots living in North Cyprus and the daily denial of their basic human rights to trade and travel freely, and to participate in sporting, social and cultural events.

The submission fell on deaf ears when the Greek Cypriot representative at HDIM felt compelled into exercising a right of reply. Rather than constructively commenting on the positive recommendations suggested, the Greek Cypriot representative provocatively indicated to the conference that Turkish Cypriots were isolated because they “illegally occupied” their own homeland and that the problems concerning the attempted lynching of two Turkish Cypriots after an Apoel Nicosia football match was merely football hooliganism and nothing related to racism. Embargoed! also raised the issues of the desecrated religious sites in an effort to bring balance to a subject which has unfortunately been used by Greek Cypriots and their lobby supporters to score very cheap political points. Ms. Tayfur added “The deterioration of Greek Cypriot religious sites is not only due to a lack of resources in the North but also to, on occasion, a refusal by the Greek Cypriot administration to allow international bodies through to the North to aid with the preservation of these sites. Discrimination of this nature is particularly unhelpful at a time when the two people on the Island are trying to reconcile their differences”.

The Greek Cypriot’s statement was yet another missed opportunity for their authorities to stand up to racism, and promote the equality of the Turkish Cypriot people to live on the Island with their neighbours with dignity and respect. Instead, the Greek Cypriot representative did the exact opposite instead and gave a clear message that, despite the present settlement talks, it is ‘business as usual’ in Cyprus for Greek Cypriots, as they continue a state of denial about the severe injustices faced by Turkish Cypriots living in North Cyprus.

Ms. Tayfur described the Greek Cypriots right of reply as “a denial of the situation faced on the ground by Turkish Cypriots every day of their lives” and she called upon the Greek Cypriots in the spirit of goodwill “to take immediate and effective action to implement confidence building measures between the two sides and to ease the sanctions applied to North Cyprus.” Embargoed! is immensely proud to be able to take part again in this vital conference. Its Chairperson Fevzi Hussein added “I do not think even our government gets the opportunity to address an international forum of this nature with diplomats from 56 countries present. We will continue to do all we can to help heighten awareness of the unjust embargoes and the ongoing racism that we face”.

Part of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) is the largest human rights conference in Europe. Taking place over 10 days, it aims to eradicate injustice and promote world peace and stability. Member countries and organisations review human rights policies and consider ways to promote tolerance, anti-discrimination and anti-nationalism to combat xenophobia and human rights abuses. The conference attracts hundreds of delegates from governments, international experts and some 300 NGOs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.