Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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06 October 2011
What happened to the Turkish Cypriots?
There is a well-known maxim that history is written by the victors and on the basis that Turkey succeeded in its military objectives during the invasion of Cyprus in 1974, it is hardly surprising that it has attempted in the years since to rewrite history.

Chief amongst Turkey’s revisionist historical claims is the myth that the 1974 invasion took place for the benefit of Turkish Cypriots. Of course a number of Turkish leaders since then have gone on record to state that even if there had been no Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus Turkey would still have invaded for strategic reasons. The Turkish Cypriots were, and still are being used as a strategic minority to provide the excuse for Turkey to satisfy its expansionist aims. 

Photo: Turkish Cypriots demonstrate in occupied Cyprus against Turkey and its so-called 'ambassador', 7 April 2011

However, what has happened to the Turkish Cypriots since then? One would have thought that under Turkey’s ‘protection’ and guidance they would have thrived. But this is not so. Despite being in illegal possession of the key tourist and agricultural real estate in Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots continue to flee in their thousands and are replaced by mainland Turks. Spurious ‘universities’ have sprung up purporting to offer academically sound research into the Cyprus issue (for this read revisionist arguments by academics in the pay of Turkey) thus cementing Turkey’s historical justification. But faced with Turkish Cypriot anger at their lot, Turkey tries to shift the blame onto the Greek Cypriots. What Turkey conveniently forgets is that it has in effect isolated the Turkish Cypriots by illegally occupying part of an EU state and refusing to recognise the Republic of Cyprus. 

Turkish Cypriots would prosper in a genuinely reunited Cyprus. But of course Turkey doesn't want that and instead seeks the maintenance of its colonial province in the occupied area

If Turkey’s claims were correct one might expect Turkish Cypriots to vent their anger on Greek Cypriots but if so why have they been arranging massive demonstrations in occupied Cyprus over the last few months and calling upon Turkey to withdraw its army of occupation? Why do the Turkish Cypriots constantly complain about Turkey’s presence in Cyprus to the extent that they had to be reprimanded by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan? The answer is clear. Turkey doesn’t care one bean about the welfare of the Turkish Cypriots. All that Turkey wants is a significant presence in the occupied area which it can then use to lay claim to more territory of the island. 

And how has Turkey gone about establishing this presence? Turkey has embarked on the systematic colonisation of occupied Cyprus and imported over 300,000 Anatolians into the occupied area, settling them in the homes and lands of dispossessed Greek Cypriots with the intent of effecting a change in the demographic composition of the island. 

Indeed Turkish Cypriot politician Izzet Izcan was recently brave enough to say that which is known but unspoken: these colonists threaten the existence of Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus. Furthermore Turkey refuses to abide by Turkish Cypriot demands for a UN controlled census in the occupied area, fearing that this will reveal the true facts of Turkey’s illegal colonisation of Greek Cypriot land. 

By contrast, indigenous Turkish Cypriots are permitted to work in the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus and benefit from free health care and obtain passports enabling them to travel and work within the EU. Left to their own devices Turkish Cypriots would prosper in a genuinely reunited Cyprus. But of course Turkey doesn’t want that and instead seeks the maintenance of its colonial province in the occupied area. 

Turkey should stop pretending why it is in Cyprus. Its abuse of the Turkish Cypriots as a strategic minority is quickly unravelling. Lobby for Cyprus supports the actions of progressive Turkish Cypriots protesting against their victimisation at the hands of their supposed protector. 

Turkey’s latest ethnic cleansing is ironically of those very Turkish Cypriots that it claims to want to protect. Actions however speak louder than words and these developments constitute one lesson that Turkey seems incapable of rewriting.