Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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To: Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe
29 September 2008
RE: Right to return of refugees

Dear Mr Hammarberg

Lobby for Cyprus wishes to congratulate you for your forthright position on the “right of return” of refugees, as stated in your recent report on the situation in the Republic of Georgia – especially because you cite the landmark decision of Loizidou vs Turkey to bolster your case.

However, permit us to request that you take an equally forthright position in the matter of the 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees who fled the illegal Turkish invasion of Cyprus, in 1974. After all, it was that invasion and still continuing illegal occupation of thirty seven percent of the north of the island that brought about that Loizidou decision by the Council of Europe’s Court of Human Rights.

Surely the plight of the Greek Cypriots is as important as the plight of the Ossetians and Georgians.

You said in your statement that “in Georgia, as in other parts of the Caucasus and in former Yugoslavia, there are still many who have had to wait for more than a decade following earlier conflicts and therefore have been doubly victimised.” Then what can be said about the situation in Cyprus which has been unresolved for 34 years!

You are rightly concerned about the fact that both Georgia and Russia are members of the Council of Europe, but so, too, are Cyprus and Turkey.

By your reasoning, therefore, the Cyprus situation is more serious and is more in need of resolution than more recent injustices about which you have legitimate concern.

Supposedly, politicians have been trying to come up with a solution to the ‘Cyprus problem.’ They have presented and have rejected all manner of solutions.

But, really (if you will permit us to say it) the solution is a simple one – and it can start with your forthright view on the “right of return” of refugees.

The Council of Europe should insist – upon threat of banishment (or punishment of some sort) – that Turkey abide by countless United Nations resolutions, and remove its 43,000 man army of occupation. Turkey’s army of occupation in Cyprus is larger than the American army in Afghanistan. The enemy in Afghanistan is obvious, but who is the ‘enemy’ in Cyprus that requires such a huge army of occupation?

The Council of Europe should then insist that Turkey repatriate the 163,000 Anatolian colonists imported into the north to change the demographics of the area (and also vote according to Turkey’s wishes). As you are aware, the very fact of these colonists is contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Once the army of occupation is removed, and the 163,000 colonists have been repatriated, the Cypriot refugees may return to their homes.

Permit us to say that if the Council of Europe were to take such a forthright stand on this long-standing problem, it would no doubt be easier and would set another precedent – à la Loizidou – to bolster your case in the matter of Georgia. It would show that you are being consistent and are adhering to a worthy principle.

We thank you for your time and attention.