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Turkish Cypriots protest against isolation outside UK Parliament

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Turkish Cypriots have been under international isolation for 60 years

NEWS IN ENGLISH 08.03.2024, 21:09 29.03.2024, 16:52 Eddie Osman
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Turkish Cypriots protest against isolation outside UK Parliament
© Young Turkish Cypriots (Instagram)
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A crowd of Turkish Cypriot protesters gathered outside the UK Houses of Parliament on Monday, March 4th, to demonstrate against the international isolation of their people.

The protest was organised by the British Turkish Cypriot Association (BTCA) on the 60th anniversary of the Turkish Cypriots being placed under international embargoes following their expulsion from the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Turkish Cypriots argue that the Republic of Cyprus collapsed in 1963, just three years after it was declared an independent state following 82 years of British occupation. Turkish Cypriots, who were constitutionally part of the Republic of Cyprus government before their expulsion from the Nicosia parliament under a power-sharing agreement with their Greek Cypriot counterparts, have not been able to actively participate in international trade, politics or sporting events ever since.

Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, have enjoyed all the benefits of international recognition under the guise of the Republic of Cyprus, which many Turkish Cypriots feel is unfair and unjust. 

In a statement released ahead of the protest, Kenan Yaman, chair of the British Turkish Cypriot Association, said: "The 4th of March 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the passing of UN Resolution 186 - a badly worded motion, penned by the British, that has condemned the Turkish Cypriot people to 60 years of embargoes. 

"UN Resolution 186 was primarily passed to protect Turkish Cypriots from further violent attacks following the Greek Cypriot coup and massacres of December 1963 and January 1964, which left hundreds dead and one in four Turkish Cypriots displaced. However, the UN’s intervention in Cyprus a few months later inadvertently led to Turkish Cypriots being stripped of their constitutional rights, political rights and human rights.

"Every aspect of Turkish Cypriots’ lives have been unjustly impacted by UN Resolution 186, condemning generation after generation of Turkish Cypriots to lead second class lives compared to their Greek Cypriot neighbours. 

"Turkish Cypriots are prevented from direct trade, travel and communications with the rest of the world. Everything has to go via Turkiye or South Cyprus, adding time and cost to their activities. Turkish Cypriots are also denied representation at international political fora, and to participate in international events and sports - even friendly games of football with FIFA-registered club opponents are banned! 

"These problems stem not from 1974, as some wrongly believe, but from events a decade earlier when the poorly worded text of UN Resolution 186  wrongly described Greek Cypriots as 'the government of Cyprus', while downgrading Turkish Cypriots to a 'community'. In one fell swoop, Resolution 186 not only destroyed the delicate balance that had been struck between the two Cypriot sides through the international treaties and constitution that established the power-sharing Republic of Cyprus in 1960, but also removed any incentive for Greek Cypriots to share power with their former partners.

“The Greek Cypriots have weaponised their ill-gotten status as the sole recognised authority on the island to demand the international isolation of Turkish Cypriots until we capitulate and accept minority status. We will never accept that. What is really disappointing is how the international community have gone along with these outrageous demands, including Guarantor Britain."

He added: “The UK needs to rectify its 60 year mistake by acknowledging UN Resolution 186 has harmed Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots in particular. They need to help restore a level playing field for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, so we can finally end the long-running Cyprus dispute."

Meanwhile, Azize Solmaz, chair of human rights group Embargoed!, stated: “Turkish Cypriots feel gagged and shunned by Guarantor Britain, sentiments which this demonstration will reflect.

“UN Resolution 186 incorrectly casts the Greek Cypriots as the only legitimate government in Cyprus, empowering them and their isolationist policies against those living in Northern Cyprus. It’s about time the UK and the United Nations reevaluate this outdated Resolution and end — without any preconditions — the inhumane isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people."

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