Home / Middle East / Cypriots Consider Protesting Israeli, Not Turkish, Occupation So World Might Care

Cypriots Consider Protesting Israeli, Not Turkish, Occupation So World Might Care

“It should work just fine, since Israel isn’t occupying Gaza, either, by any reasonable interpretation of international law, but you wouldn’t know it from all the protests.”

Northern Cyprus

Credit: Abser via Wikimedia Commons

Nicosia, March 15 – Greek-speaking residents of North Cyprus, an area of the island effectively under Turkish occupation since 1974, told reporters they are considering a change in strategy regarding their second-class political status and how the yoke of Turkish quasi-control of the region might be removed. The main change, they say, involves protesting against Israeli occupation of Northern Cyprus, even though Israel has no presence on the island, because it seems only Israeli occupation of territory attracts sufficient or sustained international opprobrium and action.

The Greeks, who are denied voting rights in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, described how decades of violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention by Turkish and Turkey-backed authorities, combined with Turkish military control over much of North Cyprus, have received scant attention in international media, and that so-called human rights organizations and international bodies give only perfunctory treatment to the situation in Cyprus while obsessing to an incomparable degree over Israeli policies only a few hundred kilometers away.

“It’s reached the point where even flagrant Turkish violations of the ban on settling one’s citizens in occupied areas barely registers on the international radar,” lamented Givusa Braik, a Greek Cypriot activist who is spearheading the strategy change. “The UN may have issued condemnation of ¬†Turkey for its activities, but it’s nothing compared to the wail of all these organizations that goes up whenever Israel lifts a finger. We clearly picked the wrong occupier to oppose, and now we have to change that.”

Braik noted the widely accepted notion, and official Palestinian demand, that Israeli settlers in areas taken by Israel from Jordan, Syria, and Egypt in 1967 would have to abandon their homes beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and contrasted it with the flexibility the same international bodies have expressed regarding mainland Turks relocated to Cyprus to populate villages from which Greek Cypriots were driven out in the 1970’s. “Numerous human rights and international law experts have taken great care to limit the designation ‘settler’ to the individuals who were born on the Turkish mainland and moved to the ethnically cleansed Cyprus villages, and not to their descendants,” he observed. “As opposed to what the so-called international community appears to take for granted when it comes to Jewish Israelis, whose presence beyond the Green Line – their Green Line, not our Green Line – must be eliminated in order for Israel to be considered in adherence to international law, no matter where they were born, and no matter that they were never ‘transferred’ to the areas the way Turks were to the formerly Greek villages.”

“Then there’s the ‘blockade’ of Gaza vs. the ‘blockade’ of Turkish Cyprus,” he continued. “Nobody’s putting together relief flotillas for us, or charging the embargo enforcers with collective punishment. Clearly, the only way to generate an effective level of international opposition is to have Israel be the occupier. So we’re going to protest Israeli occupation of North Cyprus from now on. It should work just fine, since Israel isn’t occupying Gaza anymore by any reasonable interpretation of international law, but you wouldn’t know it from all the protests.”

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