Tributes to Rauf Denktas, Founding President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Tribute From Embargoed!

The UK’s Turkish Cypriot community are in mourning at the passing of former Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktash. Below is a statement released earlier this evening by London based Turkish Cypriot human rights group Embargoed! following the sad news.

Emel Djevdet
Embargoed! Chair

RIP Rauf Denktash

Embargoed! chair Emel Djevdet announces with great sadness of the passing of former Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktash earlier this evening.

Born in Paphos, Cyprus, on 27 January 1924 and a barrister by profession, Rauf Denktash dedicated his life to championing the rights and political equality of his people. He played a pivotal role in Cypriot affairs, coming to prominence as the head of the Turkish Resistance Movement (TMT), formed to protect Turkish Cypriots from massacre at the hands of the Greek Cypriot majority. He was one the architects of the independent Republic of Cyprus formed in 1960. On 15 November 1983, he became the founding President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus when talks to unify the island as a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal state failed. He was also behind the decision to open the borders in April 2003 – a watershed moment for an island divided since 1974.

On behalf of London based human rights group, Ms Djevdet dedicates a few words to this great man who inspired and helped launch Embargoed! with a press conference in Nicosia on 4 March 2005 – the 41st anniversary of the start of the embargoes on the Turkish Cypriot people.

“In the passing of Rauf Denktash, Turkish Cypriots have lost their sword and shield and guiding light. No words can adequately reflect the gratitude of his people for the selfless service and leadership he gave them for half a century and more. His spirit will continue to give us the strength and inspiration to fight against the injustices we face and to assert our equality in Cyprus, for which he tirelessly championed throughout his life. May he rest in eternal peace. We also extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the Turkish Cypriot people.”

Tribute From Pauline Read

My heart us heavy this morning.   I have just learned of the death of a man I am proud to have had the honour of knowing.
Mr Rauf  Denktas Barrister, Jurist and founding President of the TRNC, a post he held from 1983 to 2005,  passed away last night.    A light went out in the TRNC. I have just seen a report of Mr Denktas’s death on Euro News and the commentor said  ‘he was a National Hero to Turks and despised by Greeks’, a very fair comment.
Mr Denktas was born in Paphos on the 27th January 1924 and died in his beloved TRNC yesterday Firday 13th January 2012 aged 87 years old just a 14 days short of his 88th birthday.
I am honoured I had the opportunity to meet with this wonderful man.   His high regard for all ex patriots is a matter of public record and I recall him telling me he considered all ex pats, especially British ex pats as a National asset of his country.   I can still remember the collective shock and then rapturous applause on the morning of Sunday 6th June 2010 when he walked into the coffee shop in Karsiyaka square to show his solidarity with the Kulaksz 5 in their hour of need.   HIs support for all the Property scam victims is also well documented and he told me of his personal shame at the way his country was allowing us all to be treated.   I remember sitting next to him during the Hearing of the Geoff Day case, even in his ill health and old age he made the effort to show he cared.    I remember the first e mail  received after having my lap top taken was from Mr Denktas telling me he would act as a character witness if the Prosecution service made good their threats.    He even put pressure on the police to carry out a thorough investigation into the stealing of my villa and the vehicular attack.
I think the most abiding memory I have of Mr Denktas is his stature.   Age and ill health had physically diminished him, but his presence in any room was that of a giant with a big heart..
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