Racism and intolerance rife within the Republic of Cyprus

embargoedLondon based human rights group Embargoed!, attending their third consecutive OCSE HDIM Human Rights Conference in Warsaw, used the occasion to highlight the offensive banners displayed by Apoel supporters during last week’s UEFA Champions League match against Chelsea. The group addressed diplomats from 55 countries that included the USA, Russia, Turkey and all EU member states.

The group made two important presentations at the conference, each focusing on different aspects of the human rights violations faced by Turkish Cypriots on a daily basis. They were well received by all, with American and Turkish diplomats making a point of praising Embargoed! members for the intelligent and constructive manner in which they presented these issues:

· Embargoed!’s Ergin Balli talked about the Republic of Cyprus’ judicial system which, contrary to Constitutional requirements, handles all proceedings solely in the Greek language. The group argued that refusing to also use Turkish for legal matters creates a monumental barrier for Turkish Cypriots seeking legal remedies to issues such as property, employment and criminal matters and is in contravention of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus;

· The relentless diplomatic bullying by the Greek Cypriot authorities of parties dealing directly with North Cyprus. Embargoed! offered a few examples of the ongoing harassment faced: firstly, a massive intimidation campaign launched against Italian tour operators that send tourists to North Cyprus, while secondly intense efforts continue to secure the termination of the Syrian-North Cyprus ferry service, and thirdly a critical Iraqi Transport Summit to be held in Kyrenia, North Cyprus in March this year was sabotaged at the last minute.

· Emel Djevdet honed in on the unlawful actions that took place during the Apoel v Chelsea UEFA Champions-league match on 1 October 2009 where massive banners with the messages “Cyprus is Greek” in different languages were displayed prominently around the stadium. These banners, seen throughout the match that was televised live across Europe, breached broadcasting rules as well as several UEFA and FIFA statutes concerning racism.

Embargoed! Secretary Emel Djevdet said, “The evidence we presented clearly demonstrates the Greek Cypriot administration has a real problem affording dignity, respect and equal status to Turkish Cypriots, as defined under the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and in the Republic of Cyprus’s 1960 Constitution. We cannot resolve the Cyprus issue if Greek Cypriots refuse to accept our identity, culture and presence on the island. We hope that these presentations will encourage the international community to exert pressure on the Republic of Cyprus to change their ways.”

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