I am writing regarding the travel feature ‘Cyprus: a true experience in north and south’ which is currently on the Daily Telegraph online travel section.
Cyprus was brutally invaded in 1974 and the indigenous population of Greek Cypriots, numbering 200,000, approximately one third of its total population was ethnically cleansed. They are to this day forbidden from returning by Turkey and its illegal occupation regime.
The writer Sacha Bates, refers throughout the article to ‘north Cyprus’ and ‘south Cyprus’ which is misleading. The area she describes as ‘north Cyprus’ and the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ is in fact part of the Republic of Cyprus which is currently under illegal military occupation since Turkey’s invasion of 1974.
Such references are very offensive to British Cypriots such as myself who have friends and relatives who were turfed out of their homes in that area and prevented from returning by Turkey, purely on the basis of their ethnicity.
I was one of those unfortunate’s who with members of my mother’s family fled the barbaric Turkish invasion.
Sacha Bates states that she felt very much as she had “entered Turkey” in the occupied north. Perhaps she should inform Telegraph readers that this is because in recent years Turkey has illegally flooded the area with Turkish nationals and has made great effort to extinguish the indigenous culture of Cyprus, to perpetuate the myth that the occupied area is and has always been Turkish.
The illegal occupation powers in the northern part of Cyprus are methodically applying a long-term plan to eradicate the cultural and historical heritage of the occupied territories. The Turkish army and Turkish nationals have perpetrated this cultural genocide.
• 500 Greek Orthodox churches and chapels have been pillaged, vandalised or demolished.
• 77 churches have been converted into mosques.
• 133 churches and monasteries have been desecrated.
• 28 churches are used as depots, barracks or infirmaries by the Turkish occupation forces.
• 13 churches are used as storage rooms or hay barns.
• 1 church has been converted into a hotel.
• The cemeteries of at least 25 villages have been desecrated and destroyed.
• Innumerable icons, religious artefacts and all kinds of archaeological treasures have been stolen and smuggled abroad.
• Illegal excavations and smuggling of antiquities is openly taking place with the involvement of the occupying forces.
I find it most offensive that while the legitimate inhabitants of the occupied area of Cyprus are prevented from returning to their homes in the occupied north you are promoting their lands for the enjoyment of holiday makers. The article makes no effort to make readers aware that they would be entering an illegitimate occupied territory, or of the systematic de-Hellenization of this part of the island, something the world should be ashamed of and the Telegraph should be one to stand up against this international crime.
I hope that the Daily Telegraph refrains from further promoting of the illegally occupied area of Cyprus as a holiday destination while the legitimate inhabitants are prevented from returning.
I look forward to your response on this matter.