Since 2014, Yazidis in Iraq have been exposed to genocide at the hands of the Islamic State, which has led to their forced expulsion and exile from their ancestral lands.
ISIS has executed thousands of Yazidis and abducted a myriad others from the Sinjar area, raped them repeatedly and sold them as sex slaves. Nearly 200,000 Yazidis have been displaced in northern Iraq, where the large majority lives in refugee camps.
Forty-two years ago, similar crimes were committed in Cyprus by another occupying army, which is also a NATO member.
In the summer of 1974, the Turkish military invaded Cyprus in a bloody military campaign.
During the 1974 invasion of Cyprus, the occupying Turkish forces—
- Carried out mass murders of civilians, including women, infants and soldiers who had surrendered.
- Displaced 200,000 Greek Cypriots (more than one-third of the population) from their homes. The Turkish army did not permit refugees and expellees to return to their homes in the Turkish-occupied area.
- Detained thousands of persons arbitrarily and without lawful authority.
- Forcibly displaced many detainees. The initial number of missing persons was 1,619, including non-combatants, women and small children. Even today, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.
- Sent many male Greek Cypriots to the Turkish-occupied part of Nicosia as “prisoners of war,” and later transported them to Turkey. The great majority of those shipped to Turkey were civilians aged 17 – 70.
- Tortured hundreds of people, including children, women and the elderly.
- Destroyed and looted Christian and Hellenic monuments, including Greek Orthodox churches and religious treasures.
- Looted houses and business premises belonging to Greek Cypriots.
- Distributed most of the privately owned land and houses belonging to Greek Cypriots to Turkish Cypriots and to Turks brought from Turkey to settle in those areas.
But there is one more atrocity of Turkish soldiers that has been largely ignored by the international community: the wholesale and repeated rapes of Greek Cypriot children and women.
The “Cyprus v. Turkey – Commission Report” of the European Commission of Human Rights published on July 10, 1976 said that the government of Cyprus complained of “wholesale and repeated rapes of women of all ages from 12 – 71, sometimes to such an extent that the victims suffered hemorrhages or became mental wrecks. In some areas, enforced prostitution was practiced – all women and girls of a village being collected and put into separate rooms in empty houses where they were raped repeatedly by the Turkish troops.”
In certain cases, “members of the same family were repeatedly raped, some of them in front of their own children. In other cases women were brutally raped in public.
“Rapes were on many occasions accompanied by brutalities such as violent biting of the victims to the extent of severe wounding, hitting their heads on the floor and wringing their throats almost to the point of suffocation.”
In some cases, “attempts to rape were followed by the stabbing or killing of the victim. Victims of rape included pregnant and mentally retarded women.”
“The evidence concerning allegations of rape is voluminous,” according to the report.
Some of the incidents of rape included:
- An intellectually disabled girl aged 24 was raped in her house by 20 soldiers, one after the other. When she started screaming, they threw her from the second floor window. She sustained fracture dislocation of the spine and became paralyzed.
- One day after their arrival at Voni, Turks took girls to a nearby house and raped them.
- One girl of Palekythrou – who was held with others in a house – was taken out at gunpoint and raped.
- At Tanvu, Turkish soldiers attempted to rape a 17-year-old schoolgirl. She resisted and was shot dead.
- Twenty-five girls were kept as prostitutes by Turks at Marathovouno.
- A women of Voni was raped on three occasions by four people each time. She became pregnant.
- One of the people interviewed in refugee camps (“Witness E”) said that he had seen the rape of three women by Turkish soldiers at Agios Georgios. He further reported that many girls were raped at Marathovouno; he and his family had heard their cries.
- A further witness said that his wife had been raped in front of his children.
- There were several cases of abortion at the British base, done to women who had been victims of rapes by Turkish soldiers.
- Twenty-five girls complained to the Turkish officers that they had been raped, and were then raped by these officers.
- A-50-year-old woman was raped by 10 soldiers in her fields and had to be hospitalized in Kyrenia.
- In August 1974, while the telephone system was still working, the Red Cross Society received telephone calls from Palekythrou and Kaponti (west of Kyrenia) reporting rapes.
- A man (whose name was given) reported that his wife had been stabbed in the neck while resisting rape and that his 6-year-old granddaughter had been stabbed and killed by Turkish soldiers attempting the rape.
- A 15 1/2-year-old girl who had been raped was delivered to the Red Cross.
- A witness had to take care of 38 women released from the Voni and Gypsou camps, all of whom had been raped, some of them in front of their husbands and their children; others had been raped repeatedly or put in houses frequented by Turkish soldiers. Three of them were found to be pregnant.
The statements of several other rape victims “include reports of repeated rapes by one or several Turkish soldiers, rapes in front of close relatives, rapes committed by Turkish army officers enforced prostitution, and the rape of a woman who was five months pregnant.
“The evidence shows that rapes were committed by Turkish soldiers and at least in two cases even by Turkish officers, and this not only in some isolated cases of indiscipline. It has not been shown that the Turkish authorities took adequate measures to prevent this happening, or that they generally took any disciplinary measures following such incidents.”
The European Commission of Human Rights, by 12 votes against one, found that “the incidents of rape described in the above cases and regarded as established constitute ‘inhuman treatment’ in the sense of Article 3 of the convention, which is imputable to Turkey.”
Incidents of rape against Greek women were so widespread that the Orthodox Church publicly relaxed its previous strictures on abortion.
But western governments and a large part of the international media have been mostly silent in the face of these horrific injustices against Greek Cypriot children and women.
All of these appalling rapes were not committed in Raqqa, the self-declared capital of the Islamic State. They were committed in Cyprus in 1974.
The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – which was born out of Al-Qaeda – has been operating for several years now. And much of the world seems to be shocked by its atrocities in the Middle East and Europe.
But ISIS was actually alive and well in 1974, too. It was busy raping and destroying northern Cyprus. And its name was the Turkish military.