CYPRUS NEWSLETTER
September 1, 1996

EMBASSY OF CYPRUS, WASHINGTON DC
Embassy of Cyprus
Press & Information Office
2211 R Street NW
Washington DC 20008
(202) 232-8993
(202) 234-1936 Fax

TURKS KILL 2, INJURE 50 IN PROTESTS AGAINST CONTINUING OCCUPATION

International Outrage at Turkish Brutality

Turkey carried out its most serious provocation on Cyprus since 1974 when Turkey's occupation troops and extremists brutally attacked Greek Cypriot demonstrators in the U.N. buffer zone on August 11 and 14, killing two and injuring more than 50.

"This criminal and abhorrent act is another example of the ruthlessness of the occupation troops and constitutes a blatant contempt of every principle of international law and violation of fundamental U.N. principles," Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said on August 11, after Anastasios Isaac was beaten to death, adding that "the murder provides yet more telling evidence that toleration of the continuing occupation intensifies the provocative behavior of the occupation troops."

The cold-blooded murders of innocent civilians which was captured on video and broadcast by television networks around the world were quickly condemned by the international community. The U.N. Security Council has repeatedly stressed that the status quo on Cyprus is not a solution and recent events in the buffer zone, the Security Council President emphasized on August 13, again underlined "the need for a political, peaceful, and durable solution of the Cyprus problem."

Cyprus Appeals to International Community

The international community must intensify its "efforts and create a momentum to accelerate the peace process and bring a solution closer," Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides said on August 17, following the murder of the second demonstrator, Solomos Solomou.

Intensified efforts by the international community to revitalize the U.N. initiative are expected. The Cyprus government supports a resumption of direct talks, provided Turkish positions shift to allow common ground to be reached on the key issues towards a comprehensive settlement. President Clerides stressed on August 19 that common ground must be reached before the start of talks since the Cyprus government does "not wish for the perpetuation of a dialogue which [Turkish Cypriot leader] Denktash uses as a way not to solve the Cyprus problem, but to show that the two communities cannot find a solution."

U.S.: Events Underscore Need for Comprehensive Settlement

The United States, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, and other countries condemned what the E.U. Presidency termed the "brutal killings" of the two Greek Cypriot demonstrators. The European Union also stressed on August 16 that the "events have again highlighted the urgent need to intensify efforts to promote a comprehensive political settlement in Cyprus, under the aegis of the United Nations."

The United States strongly criticized Turkey's use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators. "The United States expresses its deep concern over the recent violence on Cyprus and our shock and sadness over the killing of two Greek Cypriot civilians and the injuring of several other persons, including two U.N. peace-keepers," according to a statement on Cyprus the State Department issued on August 16. "We particularly deplore the actions of the Turkish Cypriot security forces in firing on protesters two days ago. The use of force on this occasion, as well as during the original incident on Sunday (August 11), was disproportionate to the threat posed by the protesters . . . We call on the Turkish Cypriot security forces and the Turkish military forces on Cyprus to adhere to internationally accepted norms and to avoid the use of lethal force in non-life-threatening situations."

The State Department stressed that "the tragic events of the past few days underscore once again the urgent need to reach a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus. The U.S. will continue its current efforts to seek common ground between the two communities and achieve a lasting agreement."

Responding to Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller's attempted defense of the killing of a demonstrator attempting to take down the flag of the occupying power, Turkey, State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns said "protection of a flag cannot excuse the horrible events of August 14. Human life and the sanctity of human life are ultimately more important."

Demonstration for a Europe Without Borders

In July and August events were held to commemorate the twenty-second anniversary of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus and a ride from Berlin to Kyrenia in occupied Cyprus was organized by the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation, in cooperation with the Federation of European Motorcyclists. The Berlin-Kyrenia ride was meant to dramatize the demand for freedom of movement throughout Cyprus a right denied to Cypriots since the Turkish invasion.

Riders from 12 European nations arrived in Nicosia on August 10 for the final phase of the ride, but responding to the security concerns of the government the organizers agreed not to attempt to ride to occupied Kyrenia. Instead, an anti-occupation rally was held in Nicosia.

After the rally a small number of protesters entered the buffer zone near Dherinia to present a petition to the Turkish occupation forces; they were later joined by other Greek Cypriots.

Unknown to the demonstrators, the Turkish occupation forces had allowed approximately 1,000 people from the occupied area, including extremists brought from Turkey, to pass through the Turkish Army lines and "enter the U.N. buffer zone armed with bats and iron bars." The Turks attackers "then proceeded to pursue the Greek Cypriots and mercilessly beat all those who they were able to catch," according to an August 14 U.N. report on the August 11 incidents. The report added that during this time uniformed officers also began shooting "from behind the Turkish Forces cease-fire line towards the Greek Cypriot demonstrators."

As the Greek Cypriot demonstrators ran for safety, Anastasios Isaac, 24, got caught in the barbed wire and was beaten by his Turkish attackers to death.

Following the funeral of Isaac on August 14, a group of unarmed Greek Cypriots entered the buffer zone for a peaceful demonstration and were soon confronted by Turkish occupation forces, who had deployed in full sight of the demonstrators. UNFICYP urged the occupation authorities "to exercise restraint and not to over-react. It also reminded them that UNFICYP has sole responsibility to deal with incursions into the buffer zone and that there must be no interference," according to an August 17 U.N. report on the incident.

When Solomos Solomou, 26, began to climb a flag pole to take down the flag of the occupying army., Turkey, "he was shot by a Turkish or Turkish Cypriot soldier and then fell to ground with blood flowing profusely." In addition to the murder of Solomou, two U.N. peace-keeping soldiers and several Greek Cypriot civilians were shot by Turkish soldiers.

Greece Expresses Solidarity with Cyprus

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in Cyprus on August 17 to demonstrate Greece's support for Cyprus during the crisis and to consult with President Clerides. "The division of Cyprus is incompatible with the future the peoples of Europe aspire to, and Cyprus can no longer remain the last divided country in Europe, deprived of its basic freedoms," Simitis said, adding that Greece will continue to support Cyprus' effort to achieve a just and lasting settlement. Greek Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis arrived in Nicosia on September 1 to continue consultations between the two countries.

Thousands demonstrated in London, New York, Ottawa, Bonn, Australia, and elsewhere, condemning Turkey's violence in the buffer zone, and demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish occupation forces and settlers from Cyprus.

In early September a conference organized by overseas Cypriots taking place in Nicosia will focus on informing their respective countries on the recent tragic events and on ways to intensify international pressure on Ankara to withdraw its troops from Cyprus.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CALL FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST ANKARA

Members of the U.S. Congress have called for increased measures against Turkey in light of the violence perpetrated against peaceful demonstrators on Cyprus.

Describing the killings as "abhorrent," House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY) called for a "prompt resumption of comprehensive talks to peacefully resolve the division of Cyprus," while Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN) urged "concerted and top-level attention," including the involvement of President Clinton.

During a press conference by five members of Congress at U.N. Headquarters on August 16, during which a videotape of the killings was viewed, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said that the "brutal act demonstrates again why we must cut aid to Turkey . . . and why the illegal occupation of Cyprus cannot continue."

Congressman Eliot Engel (D-IN) said recent events only underscored the importance of President Clerides' proposal for the complete demilitarization of Cyprus, and he called on President Clinton to support this proposal.

Congressman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said recent events only underscore that "Turkey cannot be a U.S. ally that acts with impunity, violates U.S. law and international norms."

TURKISH AUTHORITIES INCITED BUFFER ZONE VIOLENCE

Strong evidence indicating that the violent attacks in the buffer zone were the result of an orchestrated plan by Turkish officials was given in representations Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides made to the ambassadors of the permanent U.N. Security Council members in Cyprus on August 30.

Michaelides expressed deep concern over the fact that Turkey is now exporting terrorism to Cyprus, citing the recent murder of a Turkish Cypriot journalist critical of the occupation and of extremist attacks on demonstrators in the U.N. buffer zone.

The sinister goal of the Turkish side in planning a violent response to peaceful protests was to show "that Greek and Turkish Cypriots cannot live together, that Turkish occupation troops are necessary for the safety of Turkish Cypriots and that there can be no solution to the Cyprus problem based on a federation," he said. Michaelides also emphasized that the attacks were intended to undermine the current U.S.-led effort seeking a resumption of U.N.-sponsored Cyprus talks.

U.N. reports confirm that much of the violence appears to have been carried out by members of extremist groups, including the notorious Gray Wolves. The Turkish attackers seemed to be in accordance with a plan "to hit as many [Greek Cypriots] as possible," a senior U.N. official in Cyprus, Matt Cosgrave, told the Irish Times (August 27).

The involvement of extremist groups has been confirmed by a leader of one of these organizations, Azmi Karamahmutoglu, who in an interview published in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Ortam (August 24) said that 3,000 people from Turkey including members of the fascist "Gray Wolves" had been sent to confront Greek Cypriot demonstrators. The Turkish Cypriot press also published accounts of the arrival of the Gray Wolves, including photographs with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who thanked the extremists for coming to occupied Cyprus.

Turkish parliamentarian Mehmet Sevigen also has information, according to Istanbul's Hurriyet (August 27), that Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller diverted thousands of dollars in government funds to send the "Gray Wolves" to Cyprus.

Other evidence indicates that Denktash was present near the buffer zone when the first victim, Anastasios Isaac, was beaten to death and that Solomos Solomou, murdered on August 14, was shot by a Turkish Cypriot officer or a member of the Turkish intelligence service, MIT.

The assassination of a Turkish Cypriot journalist, Kutlu Adali, in occupied Nicosia on July 6 has also been linked to a right-wing terrorist group. Adali had strongly criticized Turkey's illegal colonization of the occupied areas and the policies of the Turkish Cypriot leadership. which were leading to a permanent division of the island.

AMERICAN PRESS REACTION TO RECENT EVENTS

The forcible division of Cyprus into Greek and Turkish zones is as unsatisfactory and dangerous an arrangement today as it was when Turkish troops first partitioned the island in 1974 . . .The Clinton Administration's mediation efforts on Cyprus are now more urgently needed than ever. Only the United States has a realistic chance of nudging the main parties toward agreement. Unfortunately, with Turkish foreign policy now strongly influenced by nationalistic politicians and generals, the odds against a breakthrough are daunting.
The New York Times, editorial, August 28

President Glafcos Clerides of Cyprus repeatedly has called for the complete demilitarization of the Mediterranean island nation. This position is in accord with the U.N., whose Secretary-General has termed Cyprus one of the most highly militarized areas in the world. Recent events show the wisdom of President Clerides' position. Knoxville News-Sentinel, editorial, August 20

NATO leaders need to pressure Turkey to cool down its belligerent rhetoric . . . Turkey has yet to acknowledge that its troops overreacted by shooting into the crowd. An apology and expression of regret would be appropriate . . . the eruption of violence on Cyprus indicates that partition doesn't necessarily result in peace. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, editorial, August 22

Unlike almost any other international dispute I can think of, the situation in Cyprus is fairly clear-cut: First, the Turkish army's 22-year occupation of northern Cyprus is illegal under international law. . . . the United Nations with Washington's full support has called repeatedly for Turkey to withdraw its army and let Cyprus get back to building a functioning multi-ethnic society of 750,000 people, almost 80 percent of them of Greek origin and most of the rest of Turkish extraction. . . Cyprus requires close and immediate attention.
Jack Payton, St. Petersburg Times, August 17

The killings of two Greek Cypriot civilians there were an outrage, and the United States was right to deplore them. But Washington must do more . . . it must take up this developing crisis directly with Turkey. . . Cyprus matters to the Western world as a Middle East listening post, as an economic gateway, as a soon-to-be member of the European Union. Turkey must understand that it can't win the world's respect . . . unless it compromises over Cyprus. Atlanta Constitution, editorial, August 20

 


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