Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN Ambassador Minas Hadjimichael condemned Turkey’s violations of human rights in Cyprus, while speaking Wednesday to the Third Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations.Source: Famagusta Gazette
According to an official announcement, Hadjimichael said in his speech that Turkey has violated in 1974 basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, in addition to violating Cyprus’ independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As Hadjimichael noted, in relation to its population, Cyprus has the highest percentage of displaced persons in the world.
The Permanent Representative added that since 1974, the UN has adopted a series of important resolutions, calling on Turkey to respect its obligations under international law.
Instead, he said, Turkey continues to commit mass violations of human rights in Cyprus, by violently maintaining the division of people and of territory and by having displaced almost one third of the population, as well as by illegally exploiting Greek Cypriot properties.
Moreover, Hadjimichael also referred to the continuous grief of families of missing people, whose fate cannot be established due to Turkey’s refusal to provide information, as well as to the continuation of the illegal settlement of the Turkish-occupied territories, with the transfer of more than 160,000 people from Turkey. Finally, the Ambassador also noted the ongoing destruction of cultural and religious heritage in the northern part of Cyprus.
All these violations, he said, have been condemned constantly in a series of UN resolutions, as well as in decisions issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). He referred to the recent report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay and added that according to ECHR, Turkey violates 14 articles of the European Convention of Human Rights.
On the issue of altering the island’s demographic composition, by continuously transferring settlers from Turkey, Hadjimichael noted that this affects the settlement of the Cyprus problem and it constitutes a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention and a war crime under the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
He said that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep tayyip Erdogan, while on an illegal visit in occupied Cyprus last July, referred to this policy of population transfer from mainland Turkey, warning the Turkish Cypriot population not to oppose it.
On the issue of missing persons, Hadjimichael expressed his appreciation for the work conducted by UNFICYP and the Committee on Missing Persons but underlined the lack of cooperation by Turkey, which he said is also noted by the Secretary-General himself in his report.
Regarding the enclaved Greek Cypriot population that remains in the northern part of Cyprus, Hadjimichael said that they continue to face serious violations of human rights, particularly with regards to their freedom to exercise their religious rights, the right to transfer property to their rightful heirs and the right to education, which is being compromised through numerous cancellations of appointments of teachers and book censorship.
On the destruction of cultural heritage, Hadjimichael said that almost 575 churches as well as other Christian monuments and cemeteries have been knowingly destroyed and desecrated, with the most recent example being the demolition of the church of Ayia Thekla last May.
The Permanent Representative of Cyprus noted that the President of the Republic of Cyprus is striving for the last three years, through direct talks, to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.
A basic element for the successful conclusion of this process, he said, is the immediate termination of human rights violations in Cyprus. As he put it, the aim of the Cyprus government is the restitution and support of fundamental human rights and basic liberties, for all its citizens.
He said that in order to achieve this aim, the Turkish occupation of a large part of the island of Cyprus must be terminated and UN resolutions need to be respected.
This is of vital importance, not just for Cyprus, but for the credibility and the moral standing of the UN itself, Hadjimichael concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
Peace talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country, under a federal roof.