Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
Print this page Print Bookmark and Share
Statements

01 July 2008
The politics of denialism
Following a genocide debate at the House of Commons in July 2008, the following Lobby for Cyprus article was published in Turkish newspaper Toplum Postasti.

Following a genocide debate at the House of Commons in July 2008, the following Lobby for Cyprus article was published in Turkish newspaper Toplum Postasti.     

[Photo caption] 
Desecration in occupied Eptakomi: evidence of the planned and systematic cultural genocide that continues to be committed against Greek Cypriots 

[Quotation] 
Cultural destruction is always pursued by the perpetrators of genocide in order to destroy the soul of a people and its cultural identity. That of course is precisely what Turkey has done in the occupied area.

Last week Alkan Chaglar wrote about “Turkey bashing” by (amongst others) Lobby for Cyprus. Permit me as the co-ordinator of Lobby to set the record straight.

The discussion at the House of Commons on 21 July was in fact organised by an Armenian group to launch a new book by Des Fernandes called ‘The Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Kurdish and Greek Cypriot genocides and the politics of denialism.’ Des was a former senior lecturer in Genocide Studies at De Montfort University. In his expert view there is compelling evidence of genocide committed by Turkey. Indeed his book documenting this evidence is over 800 pages long. His main conclusion is that there is a common theme with all these genocides in that they are institutionalised and pre-planned by the state. 

Des made it clear that genocide is clearly defined in Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention. He demonstrated that Turkey’s actions in Cyprus since 20 July 1974 clearly fall within this definition. 

He cites the appalling and systematic cultural destruction in the occupied area as just one example of this and explains that cultural destruction is always pursued by the perpetrators of genocide in order to destroy the soul of a people and its cultural identity. That of course is precisely what Turkey has done in the occupied area. 

When the Ottomans first invaded Cyprus, Christian churches, monasteries, cemeteries and architectural monuments were mostly left untouched. However contrast this with the current position. Since 1974 the cultural property of one of the historically and culturally richest places in the world, has been devastated

Of the 520 churches and chapels in the occupied area, 125 were converted to mosque, 67 to stables, 57 to museums, 17 to hotels, restaurants or ammunition warehouses. Worse 25 were completely demolished and 229 desecrated. 195 archeological sites and ancient monuments have suffered irreparable damage. 

These figures speak for themselves. Indeed Des went on to show that this genocide is ongoing. As recently as May 2008 the UN condemned the destruction of the church of Ayia Katerina in Yerani village, Karpasia. 

All remember Hitler’s famous quotation of 22 August 1939 when planning the invasion of Poland; “who remembers the Armenians?” he is reported to have said. Lobby’s purpose in participating in these discussions is to remember the wrongs done to all victims of genocide, and in particular to confront the denialists and paid propagandists who challenge or deny them. 

As your readers should know by now Lobby supports the reunification of Cyprus based on respect for human rights and international law. We have campaigned on the basis of the 3Rs for many years. Lobby does not believe however that we can meaningfully move forward on reunification unless and until the perpetrators of genocide actually accept responsibility for their crimes rather than deny the indefensible as a Turkish Cypriot academic laughably tried to do as regards the cultural destruction last week at the House of Commons. 

In our view it is hardly “progressive” to deny genocide where the evidence is so compelling. If Turkey seriously wants to join the EU then she must face up to her past and stop living in dreamland. If trust is to be built between our two communities let’s stop living in serial denial.