Wednesday, May 29, 2024
    HomeOpinionsGenocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again

    What was the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Turks on Cyprus? Who was responsible for it? And what are the implications of playing down on key events as they unfolded? With genocide denial still rampant on the island, many survivors of Greek Cypriot atrocities in Cyprus fear future killings. 

    by Mustafa Niyazi

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 1

    As recent as December last year (2020), fourteen Turkish Cypriot children murdered by Greek Cypriots in 1974 were buried in the TRNC. The remains of the 14 children, seven girls and seven boys, were found in mass graves during excavations in the village of Muratağa (Maratha).

    Survivors of the Turkish Cypriot Genocide, in which Greek Cypriots systematically displaced and killed thousands upon thousands of their men, women, children and elderly over several years, do not mark the anniversary of the killings.

    They believe it will spread “poison”, though may struggle with it personally, but generally do not refer to those times under the pretext of genocide, or to those responsible, or to the timeless heroes who bravely defended their community against it, and they do it to “protect” their children from “hating” those who tried to kill them.

    The very notion of there being an “us vs them” is something they understandably don’t wish to entangle themselves in. In my opinion this is indeed a deplorable dichotomy not worth feeding into.

    But the remains of murdered Turkish Cypriots continue to be discovered in mass graves and identified through DNA tests, before being re-buried in cemeteries undoubtedly dominated with the victims of that genocide.

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 2

    Greek Cypriot thugs parade a flag of Turkey through the streets of Lefkoşa (Nicosia) after massacring entire communities of Turks and displacing the survivors

    Melek Niyazi was a young girl at the time from the village of Geçitkale, Lefkonuk, who had sought refuge with her family.

    She survived the genocide, but what she witnessed would have left the average person traumatised for years.

    Melek recounted her experiences and told how as a young adolescent girl she was running through the fields to escape from trigger happy “Greek soldiers chasing me and my mother, shooting at us…”

    She then fast-forwards to how “Turkish jets flew in” and the soldiers “parachuted down and saved us” to the added backdrop of the late Jazz singer Ayten Alpman’s famous song: “Bir Başkadır Benim Memleketim” (My Country Is Like No Other).

    Another story is that of Şafak Nihat, who was just 13 when the Greek Cypriots came to his village of Muratağa on 14 August 1974, killing almost all of its inhabitants including women, young children and elderly, before burying them with bulldozers in a nearby rubbish dump.

    He recalls how he avoided death at the hands of the Greek Cypriots by hiding in a barrel, vividly recounting the terrifying moment he thought he and his family would be killed especially when he heard “two loud gunshots”, which he later learned were the sound of the Greek Cypriots shooting dead a neighbour.

    He hid for six days, living off whatever food and water he could find.

    It wasn’t until Turkey came and liberated the Turkish Cypriots of the island that he too like many others could finally live without fear.

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 3

    Around 85 Turkish Cypriots were massacred on 14 August, 1974, after Greek Cypriot regulars and irregulars alike rounded up all male civilians aged 9 and above from the village of Taşkent and executed them

    Though it is almost taboo to say this out loud especially in circles of the fanatically indoctrinated believers of “unity” and “peace”, there is widespread suppression of the fear that genocide could be committed against Turks again if Turkey, effectively the only peace keeper on the island, leaves.

    More compellingly perhaps, a genocide could be committed against Turks again if Greek, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot denial of the genocide continues and lingering tensions reignite.

    Escape or Exodus: Migrating to North Cyprus

    Between 1963 and 1974, Cyprus was under attack by Greek Cypriot forces aiming to annex the island into a Greater Greece. Tens of thousands of people were killed or displaced, and many more have been affected in successive generations.

    Greek Cypriots began attacking villages, towns and cities in the winter of 1963, with the goal to “ethnically cleanse” the island from non-Greeks, a mission masterminded by Greece and put in motion from as early as the late-1800s, when it first started to pump thousands upon thousands of Greeks to the island in order to force demographic changes on the island.

    For Melek and Şafak’s families, the nightmare began when they first heard of paramilitary units from Greece and local Greek Cypriot regulars and irregulars alike harassing, attacking, kidnapping, torturing, maiming, raping, and killing Turks in their scores.

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 4

    The Lefkoşa Tekke Bahçesi Şehitliği (Tekke Bahçe Martyrdom) Martyr’s Graveyard is the final resting place of some Turkish Cypriots killed by Greeks and Greek Cypriots between 1963 and 1974. Before the 1974 Turkish intervention, the Tekke Bahçesi martyrs’ graveyard was the resting place of around 1,500 Turkish Cypriots. 

    A stone erected at the entrance of the Tekke Bahçe Martyrdom chronicles the following:

    “Greek Cypriots and Greeks had started to kill the Turkish Cypriots and to destroy the Turks… the aim… is to connect the island of Cyprus to Greece… the Greeks had destroyed children, young ones, olds and so many people who had no protection at all.”

    “This is where they were first buried. After the brutal massacres in the year 1963 the bodies from mass graves were notified from the Ayvasıl area and were buried in Tekke Bahçe Martyrdom.”

    The story of 104 refugees, men, women and children, fleeing their homes in the foothills of the Troodos mountains, adds another dimension to this story.

    To save their lives, a sturdy shepard named Yakub Cemal led them together with various other groups of hundreds of Turkish civilians who had decided to make the trek north to the safety of the Turkish zones while eluding Greek Cypriot patrols.

    It was vital not to alert the surrounding Greek Cypriot population, for they would unleash their fury against the helpless Turkish Cypriot villagers.

    During their trek a twelve year old boy had fallen asleep and was apprehended by the Greek Cypriots, who tortured him to reveal the location of the expedition.

    Later one man would slip and fall into a ravine, and despite being gone back for, picked up, and carried by various relatives and friends, his wounds proved too serious.

    He demanded he be left behind in an orchard to prevent hindering the group. His wife wanted to stay with him, but he ordered her to save her honour by accompanying the expedition and thus successfully avoiding capture and almost certain rape, mutilation, murder or whatever could be worse.

    He too was later captured and beaten by the Greek Cypriots.

    After a long day along a stream they had to climb high up a mountain to avoid Greek Cypriot patrols.

    Nearing a dirt road, Yakub Cemal went ahead to scout its safety, then spotting a Land-Rover with the headlights on full-beam dove head first into a ditch.

    It passed within a few feet of Yakub, who lay motionless to avoid detection. Three men got out and he could see they were heavily armed. They held flashlights and scouted the area, looking for Turkish Cypriots to kill. Then, unexpectedly, they returned to the Land-Rover, fired at random into the surroundings, then sped away.

    The refugees continued through a winding stream, passing several Greek Cypriot posts, before their way was barred by a large number of soldiers.

    They were certain they were going to be killed.

    But when the soldiers spoke to them in Turkish, the relief they must have felt knowing they had reached the Turkish zone and they they were safe…

    Yakub had led more than 500 such Turkish Cypriots to safety in the Turkish zone.

    Sometimes Greek Cypriot forces ambushed them with heavily armed patrols. At each patrol, there were some 3-5 shooters.

    Sometimes the patrols would collaborate and hunt together in wolf-packs.

    Some were inadvertently killed in the ambushes.

    Some survived by throwing themselves into nearby creeks and waiting for nightfall before continuing for the north.

    They were like wild animals being hunted because the Greek Cypriots had been preparing to kill them in numerous spots. They were besieged on all sides and they knew that people from surrounding areas were trying to break into the Turkish zones, and they had been preparing for this.

    The genocide happened even though the island was essentially a United Nations protected “safe area” where hundreds of UN Soldiers stayed, albeit failing to protect those who actually needed protecting, the Turkish Cypriots, who were seeking refuge under the only security umbrella they had: Turkey.

    The Genocide

    When the “safe areas” and UN Buffer Zone were established after the Greek Cypriot coup and their ethnic cleansing campaign against the Turkish Cypriots starting 21 December 1963, Melek and her family were among thousands that sought refuge away from where the UN base held by a battalion of UN soldiers was situated, in coup controlled South Lefkoşa, for going there would have meant death or worse.

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 5

    UN peacekeepers survey the area as Turkish Cypriot refugees seek refuge in the nearby village. The United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is operationally established with military contingents from Canada, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, on 27 March 1964.

    At night while people were sleeping, Greek Cypriot forces separated the men and boys from their families to kill them and also took some women and girls out of the base and raped them.

    UN soldiers did nothing to stop what Greek Cypriot forces were doing.

    They did what they wanted. With impunity. They had taken control over the bases.

    Men were screaming and crying for help every night.

    Women were groaning and lamenting.

    In the daytime, one would also hear shrill screams in the woods when they would go to fetch water from a river in the field close to the base.

    Some would see corpses, heads cut off, bullet riddled babies, masses of people buried with their hands tied behind their back, naked women covered in blood lying dead and bruised all over, women clutching their babies all shot to the point of disfigurement, hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed, entire neighbourhoods turned into ghost-towns reminiscent of an apocalyptic movie…

    All this happened under the “security” umbrella of the United Nations, and the presence of the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 6

    The mass grave of Turkish Cypriots at Muratağa, murdered by Greek Cypriot regulars and irregulars on 16 August 1974. The grim discovery was made after the 1974 Cyprus War had ended.

    The Liability

    In 1964 the UN upheld the liability of the Greek Cypriots for the destruction of more than 103 Turkish Cypriot towns and villages and thousands upon thousands of Turkish Cypriots’ livelihoods.

    Yet it stood idly by, it watched, it saw, and it knew, yet it did absolutely nothing, as the attacks continued.

    Again in 1967, and 1974, and all the years of suffering that preceded, the UN was there, it watched, it saw, it knew, but did nothing.

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 7

    Monument dedicated to the 126 victims of the Muratağa, Sandallar and Atlılar massacres of August 1974.

    People were forcibly separated.

    Men were captured and taken away to be shot.

    People were scared and traumatised.

    Entire villages were slaughtered.

    When Turkish Cypriots made it to the Turkish zones, they stayed in refugee camps and waited for news of their loved ones.

    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on Cyprus: It Will Happen To Us Again 8

    Woman buries and prays for children at their graves. The remains of 15 Turkish Cypriot civilians – including 14 women and children – slaughtered by Greek Cypriot regulars and irregulars in the North Cyprus village of Muratağa on 14 August, 1974, have been finally laid to rest in their own graves.

    A couple of years ago certain families received phone calls informing them that the bodies of their children, siblings, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunties had been found in different mass graves.

    Some of the remains of these children, ranging from 9-16 years old at the time, belonged to Ahmet Süleyman Aşır’s relatives, of which he lost 30 in the massacres, including a brother & 5 sisters.

    In just a few days, Greek Cypriot forces murdered entire families with a determination that Nazi Germany’s Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler would have found too crass to commit out in the open.

    Genocide Denial

    Several hundred thousand Turkish Cypriots continue to live independently in the unjustly and illegally ostracised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Many Turkish Cypriots themselves describe it as a “so-called state” with no prospects and now live in the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus (GCASC), the latter being the greatest and furthest possible diplomatic achievement attainable by the terrorists.

    While 57 years have passed since the genocide began, survivors are still battling against widespread Greek, Greek Cypriot and more bizarrely Turkish Cypriot denial of historical facts that have been confirmed numerous times by international reporters, newspapers, foreign dignitaries, authoritative persons on the subject of genocide, international laws on genocide, and then some.

    Statues, posters and graffiti glorifying Grivas, the Greek general who led Greek Cypriot forces and committed acts of genocide, are regularly found in Greek Cypriot areas of Cyprus as well as in neighbouring Greece.

    Months before the 54th anniversary of the genocide, the Greek Cypriots voted for a bill to commemorate enosis – which the genocide was pursuant to – in schools.

    Children are routinely taught to parade the Greek flag in schools and sing enosis era songs which paint the Turks as “barbarians”, “thiefs”, “gypsies” and more.

    Yet there are no Turkish Cypriot Genocide reports published, not even by the Turkish Cypriots. One could identify hundreds of instances of genocide denial in regional public discourse and media, the majority of cases occuring in the GCASC, no doubt.

    Such a report would also disclose that the majority of these deniers work in the public sector, including those who currently hold office in the occupied areas in the south as well as their entity-level government.

    Alarmingly, it is public knowledge that many were active in Greek Cypriot political or military apparatuses during the genocide.

    Even today, many more in positions of influence are the children of those bonafide terrorists, including the current leader of the GCASC, Nikos Anastasiades.

    The current leadership of the church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, routinely gives public hate speeches on the subject, and advocates support for policies which are systematically designed to ensure the Turkish Cypriots are denied their rights.

    Narratives that deny the genocide and glorify war criminals have intensified and denial in the region is part of Greek Cypriot public and state strategy.

    American genocide scholar Gregory H Stanton states that denial is “among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres”.

    An ongoing Greek Cypriot obsession with degrading the Cyprus Problem to a minority-majority dichotomy along ethnic discriminatory lines and other feverish efforts to perpetuate tensions, coupled with genocide denial, provide grave risks for the future.

    If this continues, and the Turkish Cypriots do nothing about it, or if they simply prefer to forget what has happened and ignore the continued bigotry of their neighbours, and allow the Greek and Greek Cypriot narrative to hijack the truth and convince the Turks to push for “unity” under anyone else’s terms, this genocide will most certainly happen again.

    *Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of CypriumNews.

    - Advertisement -
    Mustafa Niyazi
    Mustafa Niyazihttp://fghyHi+dr
    Who am I? I'm a teacher in China. I'm here because of some personal and private reasons. I'm also a researcher and specialist on the history of China, the Turks, Cyprus, and the Cyprus Problem, as well as systems of governance and a few other related topics. If you are interested in my ethnicity, I'm Turkish. Both my parents are Turkish Cypriot. I was born in London and I grew up there, but I traveled to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus every summer and now I'm living and working in China. Both Turkish and English are my mother language. I’m a polyglot and I can speak 3 languages fluently: Turkish, English and Mandarin Chinese, and I speak Japanese too but not confident to say it's fluent yet? If you don’t think I’m a polyglot check the Cambridge or Oxford Dictionary. "Poly" means "multiple" and "Glot" means "tongue", so yes, I am a polyglot. I am always planning to write and publish lots of Cyprus-related articles, so stay tuned if you like those types of articles. I also like writing about topics inspired by the conversations I have with others at the coffee shop or on social media etc, if I think it's related enough. I'm also an activist for Turkish Cypriot rights, human rights, and genocide awareness.  Frequently Asked Questions: - My height: 182 cm? - Do you view yourself as Turkish or British?: I am who I want to be - What's your relationship status?: I don't feel comfortable talking about that - If both your wife and mother are drowning, who will you save? Both of them - Where are you living?: Currently in Hangzhou, China - Favourite pass time: Just relaxing, thinking, watching the world go by #Turkish #British #China Disclaimer: I generally employ qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methodologies and try to be open and inclusive, and adaptive. I try to avoid the trappings of pigeon-hole research, civil pov-pushing, watered down language or tone, giving undue weight to fringe theories coming from unreliable points-of-view (POVs), or engaging in tendentious contributions.
    - Advertisment -

    Most Popular