Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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15 December 2010
US class action explained
Questions and answers on the class action the prominent US attorney Athan Tsimpedes is pursuing in the US courts on behalf of Cypriots, against Turkey's illegal regime in the occupied territories of Cyprus for the return of their homes and for significant damages.

What is a class action?
A class action is an American lawsuit designed for a class (group) of people who want to take action together. The Tsimpedes Law Firm is a launching a class action on behalf of Greek Cypriots against the 'TRNC' as a commercial enterprise and the HSBC plc bank.

How is this relevant to UK citizens?
American courts allow foreign nationals to sue in the United States.

How many people have joined so far?
The deadline is January 2011, and over 100 people living in the US, Greece, the UK and Cyprus have already filed.

How can the 'TRNC' be sued in the US?
In the US the so-called 'TRNC' operates as a trade name, its staff enter the US with business, not diplomatic, visas. This commercial enterprise sells properties in occupied area of Cyprus with false titles and its profits from these sales are processed through the HSBC plc bank. These properties may belong to Greek Cypriots.

Why is Turkey not listed as a defendant?
Turkey is ultimately responsible for the 'TRNC', as found in the ECHR rulings (such as Cyprus v Turkey). The exclusion of Turkey at the initial stages is strategic. This also avoids issues of state immunity and is why Mr Tsimpedes has obtained court documents showing the 'TRNC' to be a business and not a country.

How long does the US legal process take?
The process can take two to three years.

What are the chances of the outcome being positive?
US Courts have already condemned the so-called 'TRNC' in the Church of Cyprus v. Goldberg case. This compliments European Court of Human Rights judgments (such as Loizidou v Turkey) and the Court of Justice of the European Union judgments (such as Apostolides v Orams).

Who is Athan Tsimpedes?
Athan Tsimpedes is a US attorney of Greek descent and the principal of Tsimpedes Law Firm. His mother Maria Kassidogiannis is from the small town Rizes which was used as a Nazi Headquarters during World War Two. Shortly after World War Two, his father Theodore Tsimpedes left his small Greek village, Kanthalos, aged 16 and arrived in the US with 70 cents and not a word of English.

Does Athan Tsimpedes have experience in suing a country?
Yes. Athan Tsimpedes became the first attorney to win a case (Kirkham v Air France) against a foreign nation for acts occurring outside America when he took action against the government of France.

So why join the class action claim?
It is up to individuals to decide for themselves. Many people are disappointed with political progress to date, whilst others want to take action (at minimum cost) which will draw international attention to the injustice that they have suffered.

What is the basis of compensation?
You will be entitled to compensation for the loss of use for 36 years as well as other remedies including your personal property such as icons, vehicles, farm equipment, furniture etc. You do not surrender your title.

In addition to the sum paid to compensate you for your loss of use (compensation), the court can also award punitive damages to both punish and deter the wrongdoer from engaging in similar conduct. These damages are awarded where the conduct was malicious or intentional to violate the individual’s rights. Punitive damages normally far exceed the actual compensation.

This class action concerns property. A separate lawsuit is being filed for those killed, missing, injured and abused. Cypriot teacher Eleni Phoka has joined the US lawsuits against Turkey and will be the named plaintiff in the upcoming Class Action for human rights and violent atrocities (non-property) against Greek Cypriots and others. These may include those committed by the Turkish army.

Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political organisation with the aim of reuniting Cyprus. The cornerstone of Lobby’s campaign policy are the 3Rs: Removal of all Turkish troops; Repatriation of all colonists and Return of all refugees.