Thursday August 7, 2014
For part 1, see "Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel."
For part 2, see "Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel: Part 2."
Ever since Israel's military operation in Gaza started, Turkish officials and institutions have been in a constant competition to condemn or even curse Israel.
On July 18, the Foreign Relations Commission of the Turkish Parliament issued a joint declaration in which all political parties in the parliament condemned Israel: "We vehemently condemn the attacks of Israel against the Palestinian people, which do not comply with the concept of a legitimate state and which trample on international law and the most basic human rights and [we also condemn] its ongoing massacre in which civilians including children and women are indiscriminately killed."
Well, had they replaced "Israel" with "Turkey" and "Palestinian" with "Cypriot," that would have been a more valid and honest statement. It also would have been the first time that Turkey would have confessed and apologized for its own crimes in Cyprus.
To see the insincerity of Turkish officials, we can also recall the past crimes of Turkey, none of which they have ever issued any written or verbal apologies for. But our main focus should be on the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, because this is not a crime of the past. It is being committed every single day that the ethnic cleansing and colonization of the occupied part of the island continue.
A week before this statement of the parliament, on July 12, Yiannakis Savva Liasis, a Greek Cypriot soldier, was finally laid to rest after being killed during the Turkish invasion nearly 40 years ago.
Liasis, 21, had been listed as a missing person, as his body was never recovered. In 2010, his body was discovered in a mass grave in Klepini, a village in the Kyrenia District of Cyprus. He was formally identified only in May this year after a DNA test.
Panayiotis Antoniou, director of the Office of the President of Cyprus, attended his funeral.
"After an unacceptable delay of 40 years, we direct our final farewell to Yiannakis Liasis, a brilliant and virtuous young man with passion and dreams for himself, his family and his homeland," he said.
Liasis was not the only victim of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
Almost every week, Greek Cypriots bury loved ones listed as missing since the invasion, as remains are discovered as part of ongoing investigations carried out by the Committee for Missing Persons.
Meanwhile, as if Turkey were some champion of human rights, Erdogan said in an interview with CNN that Israel is a terror state.
"They are creating a wave of terror with what they are doing now," he said. He also blamed Israel for "spitting death, spitting blood."
During and after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, however, the Turkish army killed over 3,000 people, "spitting death, spitting blood."
Several reports state that thousands of Greek Cypriots were arrested and detained in concentration camps in Cyprus by the Turkish army and by Turkish Cypriot paramilitary organizations.
According to the Foreign Ministry of Cyprus, "Over 2,000 prisoners of war were illegally taken to Turkey and detained in Turkish prisons. Some of them were not released and are still missing. Hundreds of other Greek Cypriots, both soldiers and civilians (including old people, women and children) disappeared in the areas under Turkish occupation and are still missing."
Two days after the Turkish parliament issued its declaration, on July 20, the rectors of 87 universities in Turkey issued another declaration, condemning Israel's operation in Gaza, and stating that they would end all their academic, cultural and social relations with Israeli universities that do not condemn the "massacre committed by the Israeli government," until the "massacre" ends and the blockade on Gaza is removed.
"The whole world, especially the Islamic world, should take a joint stance in unity and solidarity against Israel, which targets Muslims and Islamic values," it said.
Have those rectors ever in their academic careers uttered a single word or written a single letter to criticize or condemn the Turkish occupation of Cyprus?
"Unfortunately, all of those who turn a blind eye to the oppressor and oppression become a shareholder in this savagery," the declaration said.
That is true. The silence of many Turks, including academics, to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, has made them a shareholder in the oppression as well.
The declaration of the rectors also stated their opinions on redrawing the boundaries of the region, saying that they support the demands of establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital.
Turkey illegally divided Nicosia, the capital of the Republic of Cyprus and a historically Greek town, at the end of the invasion. The northern part of this city is recognized by the international community as Cypriot territory under Turkish occupation.
Can officials or citizens of one country, who have not opposed this injustice, claim a moral right to discuss what other city should be the capital of which state?
Instead of deciding whose capital Jerusalem should be, why aren't the Turkish rectors offended by Hamas' founding covenant, which explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews?
Hamas produces and broadcasts children's television shows encouraging children to kill Jews, which is not a very humane or decent way of raising children. Besides, it regularly announces its aims to annihilate all the Jews in Israel. Why do the Turkish rectors not condemn Hamas' stated objectives and terrorist tactics?
The declarations of both the Turkish parliament and universities called for the U.N. to condemn Israel and stop the deadly attacks committed by Israel in Gaza.
In 1974, Turkey ignored calls by the U.N. Security Council for "an immediate end to foreign military intervention in the Republic of Cyprus," and then occupied 36.2 percent of the island, forcibly expelling about 170,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and lands.
So why are the Turkish state officials calling on the U.N. to act now?
And why were Cypriots exposed to the horrific deadly attacks of Turkey during and after the invasion?
Had they launched thousands of rockets from Cyprus to Turkey, as Hamas does to Israel?
Had they built a vast network of tunnels from Cyprus into Turkey for use in killing or abducting Turks, as Hamas does to Israel?
Why were Cypriots forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in the free areas of their own country? Why does Turkey still deprive the displaced Greek Cypriots of their right to return to their homes and lands? Or has it just found the colony it needs?
Why has no one in Turkey organized huge protests to condemn this injustice?
And why does the Turkish occupation of Cyprus not get wide coverage from international media, as does Israel's military operation in Gaza?
The Republic of Cyprus has shown that it is committed to nonviolence and is trying to reach a solution through peaceful and legal means. Can this be an excuse for the international media to not pay more attention to the Turkish occupation of the island? Are Hamas-style terrorist attacks required for the international media to start to care more for Cyprus? Or must the invader be Jewish for the media to condemn the invasion?
The final part of the universities' joint declaration answers the questions: "May God rest the soul of our martyrs who have lost their lives under the attacks of the Zionist Israeli government."
O, the Zionist state! Were it not for you, whom would millions of people blame for global or regional crises? Were it not for you, how could all those persons and states appease themselves as "the enemies of oppression" after ignoring all other plights of humanity?
The lives of Gazans and Israelis alike are too sacred to be exploited for one's personal gains, political interests or presidential election campaigns.
Caring deeply about human lives is an admirable value. But before Turkish officials and institutions condemn Israel, they should first make sure their own hands are clean.
Uzay Bulut is a freelance journalist based in Ankara.
Link to source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=9515