The Cyprus Problem – Truth and all its variants

I ask the question: is truth a relative thing? Something that is purely subjective or are facts irrefutable? My original title (part one) “smoke and mirrors” becomes more vivid with another anecdote, this time back in Lapta.

A family that had been forced out of Paphos finally found relocation in a vacated Greek Cypriot house in the Lapta village centre in 1976. There was not much left inside, the contents, the few that were left, were mostly fit for the refuse tip. The family managed to get the place cleaned up and rescued four kitchen chairs and a table. After some days they began to look around some of the other empty houses in search of practically anything that would make their existence more comfortable. In one house, which had obviously been looted before, they found an old dowry chest which they managed to carry back to their new home. Bear in mind these people are “new” to Lapta. They are making friends and acquaintances with their new neighbors and invite a family from two streets away for tea. The family were originally from Lapta, admittedly originally from further up the valley by the “Headspring”. They had fled the village in January 1964 to Bogaz.On return they to had appropriated a house in the lower village. The, by now, elderly woman visitor was dumbstruck when she entered the house. She asked where the dowry chest came from. The new incumbents described how they had taken it from an abandoned Greek Cypriot house. The women began to cry and declared that it was hers, a present from her grandfather as a dowry complete with all the handmade lacework and silks which she had been forced to leave behind when her husband and family had fled. To prove the point she opened the door and showed the old handwritten ottoman inscription, dedicated to her, that her Grandfather had written inside.

So, I ask the question who stole what? More to the point from whom?

I could go on with a myriad of similar stories. No doubt these type of stories exist in “the south” as well.

Neither side seem to come to grips with the wanton destruction of property and cultural heritage perpetrated by the other, although it would appear perfectly in order to do it oneself. “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” seems to be the motto.

In 2003 something momentous happened. Many people thought that at last a solution was within reach. The Annan Plan in all its variants was being batted around and there was optimism that at last realism would prevail. The momentous event was, however, not the Annan Plan, but the opening of the Border/Green Line/Attila Line/Ceasefire Line or whatever you want to call the de facto, now open, crossing between North and South. Suddenly the myths and propaganda circulating in some regions and some parts of the community could actually be physically checked out in person. Subjective views compared to reality. The notion that the Turkish Cypriots were more or less living in an open prison, terrorised and persecuted by an oppressive Turkish military regime was no longer sustainable. Very unpalatable for many in the south, particularly the Orthodox church which had played a large part in the propagation of such stories.

Displaced families were able to view their properties, or in some case not, namely those where complete villages had been bulldozed to make roads dams or water reservoirs. Mosques, churches and monasteries were demolished, derelict or desecrated. Heartbreaking scenes for all concerned.

And yet we still hear that peace talks are underway and progress is being make. I wonder whether it is a language problem that presents the barrier to progress. I don’t mean Greek /Turkish translation problems, but a complete and utter cultural difference between the two cultures giving the meaning of particular words different angles, like the truths I mentioned before. Depending on your standpoint they are more or less true. More relevant or less relevant. For example what is Peace to each side? As far as I can see it there is no difference to what both sides want. They want their rights. Here we hit the problem, rights for one side means the right to come back and carry on as a majority with no respect or compassion for a minority. The right to mistreat and deny basics, the right to usurp and corrupt and the right to destroy what doesn’t fit. For the other side, rights seems to be the right of recognition, the right to be seen as equals in a community, the right to existence and above all the the right to have their suffering recognised. I leave it to the reader to decide which side wants which rights and if there can be agreement when the truths appear to diverge so massively.

Thanks for being so patient and reading this far.

TRUTH and all its variants.

I ask the question: is truth a relative thing? Something that is purely subjective or are facts irrefutable? My original title (part one) “smoke and mirrors” becomes more vivid with another anecdote, this time back in Lapta.

A family that had been forced out of Paphos finally found relocation in a vacated Greek Cypriot house in the Lapta village centre in 1976. There was not much left inside, the contents, the few that were left, were mostly fit for the refuse tip. The family managed to get the place cleaned up and rescued four kitchen chairs and a table. After some days they began to look around some of the other empty houses in search of practically anything that would make their existance more comfortable. In one house, which had obviously been looted before, they found an old dowry chest which they managed to carry back to their new home. Bear in mind these people are “new” to Lapta. They are making friends and aquaintances with their new neighbors and invite a family from two streets away for tea. The family were originally from Lapta, admittedly originally from further up the valley by the “Headspring”. They had fled the village in January 1964 to Bogaz.On return they to had appropriated a house in the lower village. The, by now, elderly woman visitor was dumbstruck when she entered the house. She asked where the dowry chest came from. The new incumbants described how they had taken it from an abandoned Greek Cypriot house. The women began to cry and declared that it was hers, a present from her grandfather as a dowry complete with all the handmade lacework and silks which she had been forced to leave behind when her husband and family had fled. To prove the point she opened the door and showed the old handwritten ottoman inscription, dedicated to her, that her Grandfather had written inside.

So, I ask the question who stole what? More to the point from whom?

I could go on with a myriad of similar stories. No doubt these type of stories exist in “the south” as well.

Niether side seem to come to grips with the wanton destruction of property and cultural heritage perpetrated by the other, although it would appear perfectly in order to do it onesself. “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” seems to be the motto.

In 2003 something moentous happened. Many people thought that at last a solution was within reach. The Annan Plan in all its variants was being batted around and there was optimism that at last realism would prevail. The momentous event was, however, not the Annan Plan, but the opening of the Border/Green Line/Attilla Line/Ceasefire Line or whatever you want to call the defacto, now open, crossing between North and South. Suddenly the myths and propaganda circulating in some regions and some parts of the community could actually be physically checked out in person. Subjective views compared to reality. The notion that the Turkish Cypriots were more or less living in an open prison, terrorised and persecuted by an oppressive Turkish military regime was no longer siustainable. Very unpalatable for many in the south, particularly the Orthodox church which had played a large part in the propagation of such stories.

Displaced families were able to view their properties, or in some case not, namely those where complete villages had been bulldozed to make roads dams or water reservoirs. Mosques, churches and monasteries were demolished, derelict or desecrated. Heartbreaking scenes for all concerned.

And yet we still hear that peace talks are underway and progress is being make. I wonder whether it is a language problem that presents the barrier to progress. I don’t mean Greek /Turkish translation problems, but a complete and utter cultural difference between the two cultures giving the meaning of particular words different angles, like the truths I mentioned before. Depending on your standpoint they are more or less true. More relevant or less relevant. For example what is Peace to each side? As far as I can see it there is no difference to what both sides want. They want their rights. Here we hit the problem, rights for one side means the right to come back and carry on as a majority with no respect or compassion for a minority. The right to mistreat and deny basics, the right to usurp and corrupt and the right to destroy what doesn’t fit. For the other side, rights seems to be the right of recognition, the right to be seen as equals in a community, the right to existance and above all the the right to have their suffering recognised. I leave it to the reader to decide which side wants which rights and if there can be agreement when the truths appear to diverge so massively.

Thanks for being so patient and reading this far.

TRUTH and all its variants.

I ask the question: is truth a relative thing? Something that is purely subjective or are facts irrefutable? My original title (part one) “smoke and mirrors” becomes more vivid with another anecdote, this time back in Lapta.

 

A family that had been forced out of Paphos finally found relocation in a vacated Greek Cypriot house in the Lapta village centre in 1976. There was not much left inside, the contents, the few that were left, were mostly fit for the refuse tip. The family managed to get the place cleaned up and rescued four kitchen chairs and a table. After some days they began to look around some of the other empty houses in search of practically anything that would make their existance more comfortable. In one house, which had obviously been looted before, they found an old dowry chest which they managed to carry back to their new home. Bear in mind these people are “new” to Lapta. They are making friends and aquaintances with their new neighbors and invite a family from two streets away for tea. The family were originally from Lapta, admittedly originally from further up the valley by the “Headspring”. They had fled the village in January 1964 to Bogaz.On return they to had appropriated a house in the lower village. The, by now, elderly woman visitor was dumbstruck when she entered the house. She asked where the dowry chest came from. The new incumbants described how they had taken it from an abandoned Greek Cypriot house. The women began to cry and declared that it was hers, a present from her grandfather as a dowry complete with all the handmade lacework and silks which she had been forced to leave behind when her husband and family had fled. To prove the point she opened the door and showed the old handwritten ottoman inscription, dedicated to her, that her Grandfather had written inside.

 

So, I ask the question who stole what? More to the point from whom?

 

I could go on with a myriad of similar stories. No doubt these type of stories exist in “the south” as well.

 

Niether side seem to come to grips with the wanton destruction of property and cultural heritage perpetrated by the other, although it would appear perfectly in order to do it onesself. “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” seems to be the motto.

 

In 2003 something moentous happened. Many people thought that at last a solution was within reach. The Annan Plan in all its variants was being batted around and there was optimism that at last realism would prevail. The momentous event was, however, not the Annan Plan, but the opening of the Border/Green Line/Attilla Line/Ceasefire Line or whatever you want to call the defacto, now open, crossing between North and South. Suddenly the myths and propaganda circulating in some regions and some parts of the community could actually be physically checked out in person. Subjective views compared to reality. The notion that the Turkish Cypriots were more or less living in an open prison, terrorised and persecuted by an oppressive Turkish military regime was no longer siustainable. Very unpalatable for many in the south, particularly the Orthodox church which had played a large part in the propagation of such stories.

 

Displaced families were able to view their properties, or in some case not, namely those where complete villages had been bulldozed to make roads dams or water reservoirs. Mosques, churches and monasteries were demolished, derelict or desecrated. Heartbreaking scenes for all concerned.

 

And yet we still hear that peace talks are underway and progress is being make. I wonder whether it is a language problem that presents the barrier to progress. I don’t mean Greek /Turkish translation problems, but a complete and utter cultural difference between the two cultures giving the meaning of particular words different angles, like the truths I mentioned before. Depending on your standpoint they are more or less true. More relevant or less relevant. For example what is Peace to each side? As far as I can see it there is no difference to what both sides want. They want their rights. Here we hit the problem, rights for one side means the right to come back and carry on as a majority with no respect or compassion for a minority. The right to mistreat and deny basics, the right to usurp and corrupt and the right to destroy what doesn’t fit. For the other side, rights seems to be the right of recognition, the right to be seen as equals in a community, the right to existance and above all the the right to have their suffering recognised. I leave it to the reader to decide which side wants which rights and if there can be agreement when the truths appear to diverge so massively.

 

Thanks for being so patient and reading this far.

 

 

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