Turkish invasion and occupation

The northern area of Cyprus is currently under illegal occupation since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

On 15 July 1974 the military junta then ruling Greece carried out a short-lived coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of Cyprus. On 20 July 1974, Turkey, using the coup as a pretext, launched a massive military invasion, purportedly to restore constitutional order. Despite the collapse of the coup, restoration of the legitimate government of Cyprus, and a ceasefire agreement, Turkey launched a second invasion on 14 August 1974. Turkey seized 36.2 percent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and it maintains an illegal military occupation in the northern areas of the island to this day.

In its invasions, Turkey conducted mass systematic human rights abuses against the Greek Cypriots, ethnically cleansing them from their ancestral lands.

Human rights violations have been and continue to be directed against Greek Cypriots because of their ethnicity, religion and language. Such discrimination is explicitly prohibited under the European Convention of Human Rights (article 14) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (article 21).

"...The Commission has found…that the acts violating the Convention were exclusively directed against members of…the Greek Cypriot community…Turkey has failed to secure the rights and freedoms set forth in these articles without discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, race and religion as required by article 14 of the Convention..."

Council of Europe, European Commission of Human Rights, Application Nos. 6780/74 and 6950/75, Cyprus v. Turkey

The European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights have found Turkey guilty of gross violations of several key articles of the European Convention. Turkey is obligated to comply with all decisions of European human rights institutions.

As a result of the Turkish invasion:

  • 36.2 percent of the Republic of Cyprus is under illegal Turkish occupation
  • More than 43,000 Turkish occupation soldiers, equipped with modern weaponry and supported by the Turkish air force and navy are illegally stationed in the occupied area
  • 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees are prevented from returning to their homes and lands
  • 162,000 colonists have been illegally transferred to the occupied area by Turkey to alter the demography of the island
  • More than 1,000 persons are still listed as missing
  • The ancient culture of the occupied north has and is still being eradicated to perpetrate the myth that the area is Turkish

"...the northern part of the island is one of the most highly militarized areas in the world in terms of the ratio between numbers of troops and civilian population".

Report of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus S/1994/680 7 June 1994