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01.05.2022, 18:57 227

The saga about that Soho building goes on

The Evkaf Administration of Cyprus (the religious authority) owns a building in the red-light district of London, Soho (perhaps it is more of a gastronomy centre nowadays. I don’t know). The building was an important meeting place for Turkish Cypriot migrants from Cyprus. Many important services were provided for the community from there, under the leadership of the Cyprus Turkish Association.

I won’t go into the history of how the building was obtained. I’d just like to stress that this building has long been used to divide the UK TC community. Not that we need any reason to fight and argue among ourselves! There is a small minority of people among us whose egos do not allow us to act together even on non-controversial matters.

The arguments around the ownership of the building has a long history. 13 years ago, the then Director General of Evkaf Mustafa Kaymakamzade announced that “work has started to enable the income from rent from commercial businesses that occupied the building to be used for the common national interests of the Turkish community in the UK”.

A few days ago, the present Director General of Evkaf, Professor Dr. İbrahim Benter gave the “good news” that following regaining control of the building, extensive restoration work had been carried out, and all but one floor of the building had been leased. Benter continued to say that “after expenses, income from rents would be used to support the community in London and beyond”.

In my humble opinion, this so-called good news is the harbinger of more fights, more polarisation among the community. The main actors have already had “secret”, troublesome meetings.

The main reasons for the arguments have always been the insistence of CTCA (Council of Turkish Cypriot Organisations) that as they represent the whole of the Turkish Cypriot community in the UK (in itself an absurd, laughable claim), they should have the lion share of the building, and income from it. They are very upset that Evkaf had leased the build to commercial agencies. They would have complained to President Tatar if his visit to London materialised. In a very biased way, the President had been supporting the CTCA.

What I would like to know is this: Why should income from this building be used for the benefit of the community here in the UK, just because the building is here? Is there such a requirement under the Evkaf laws?

Why do people in UK, one of the richest nations on earth have such expectations?

Turkish Cypriot organisations have not allowed themselves to be independent. They have been reliant on crumbs from Cyprus and Turkey. While other minority ethnic groups have successfully benefitted from funds provided by local authorities, health authorities and other public bodies, our organisations have not even tried to equip themselves with skills to do the same. They have the cheek to accuse public bodies of being biased against them. There are a few excellent exceptions to this. Everyone knows who they are.

My plea to Profesor Dr. Benter is this: Please do not be part of these divide and rule tactics. Make the income available to satisfy the needs of people who live in Cyprus. We have recently witnessed the extremely bad conditions at care homes. Schools are badly in need of urgent work. Childrens' homes and groups supporting children and families are crying out for help. Please help them rather than our spoilt, lazy community in the UK.

If for reasons of Evkaf laws you are obliged to use the money for UK Turkish Cypriots’ benefit, I suggest your office takes these steps:

  • Devise a funding criteria and invite all organisations who fit in this to submit funding applications, outlining how they would use this funding,
  • Set up an independent committee to evaluate and process the applications,
  • Set up a monitoring mechanism requiring groups to submit regular reports about the progress of their work.

Yorumlar (1)
Kazim Altan 10 ay önce
Well said Ertanc. I believe the centre was bought by contributions from the early TC setlers in the UK. Thats part of the argument for wanting control of it. Apparently in its history, there had been times when the building could not be maintained. On the advice of R Denktas it was bequeath to Efkaf on condition that at least part of is used as a meeting place for the TC community in london.
I agree that the income of the building should be used in areas that are in desperate need in Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriot community n the UK needs to free itself from being inward turned and learn to use charities in the UK who are willing to fund initiatives by organisations with charitable status who pledge to use the funding to promote community well being including enabling the children of TC to better achieve in mainstream schools. Charities are expected to commit themselves to principles of equality and remain true to these. The CTCA constitution has not been updated, and refuses to be apolitical, aligning itself with the right wing political parties of the TRNC. There lies the fie line in achieving anything that truly supports community cohesion and progression. The constitution also allows previous chairs, which outnumber committee members to interfere with the decision making of this so called umbrella organisation. This structure in turn nulifies the dynamics for change. Instead of being outward focused they remain forever festering inwards, labelling people who want progress as left wing untouchables. My efforts to gain CTCA charitable status regrettably met with a similar wrath of the unelected dinosaur previous chairs.
I agree unconditionally that the money should be shared out to groups with charitable status which are regulated, devoid of meaningless, extreme nationalism, do work for the good of the community and are apolitical.
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