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Media Watch 2003

29 August 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Comment: The following editorial appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 29 August 2003.
Terrorism is not just bombs!

THE latest terrorist outrage in Bombay on Monday that killed more than 40 people sparked fresh international denunciations and declarations by President Bush and other world leaders reaffirming their determination to deal with the scourge of terrorism. 

Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, summed up the general reaction by declaring that the latest attack "emphasises yet again the importance of the international community taking firm action to deal with the poison of international terrorism.'' 

But the "poison'' does not consist only of the deadly bomb blasts that kill innocent people. It also consists of the war crimes committed by rogue states like Turkey through its continuing ethnic cleansing operation in the occupied part of Cyprus. This form of terrorism though not as deadly as bombs may be termed equally bad, because of its equally irrevocable effect on the victims.

The tragedy of Cyprus is that Turkey's terrorism-war crimes have been tolerated all these years by the international community, despite the very clear action demanded against Turkey by both the UN Security Council and the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, which are rejected contemptuously by the Turkish government.

Diaspora's role 

It may be argued that the successive Cypriot governments share part of the blame for the international toleration of Turkey's war crime and state terrorism. This follows their failure to mobilise the Greek and Greek Cypriot diaspora communities more effectively, not simply to promote the justice of the Cyprus cause, but to mobilise the public opinion of their adopted countries to react and put an end to the toleration of Turkey's war crimes by their governments. 

It is enough to point out that despite Turkey's continuing war crimes in Cyprus, and its contempt of the Rights Court judgements, the United States and the European Union, as well as individual Western governments, continue to treat Turkey as blameless and reward it with billions of dollars in aid!

Those backing Turkey have their strategic interests for doing so. This must not prevent Cyprus and the diaspora communities from shouting "shame'' as loudly as they can in an attempt to remedy the situation by informing the public opinion of their adopted countries of the toleration, not to say complicity, of their governments of Turkey's terrorism-war crimes. 

This role of the diaspora was discussed yet again during this week's annual conference of its represenatives in Nicosia. 

There has been no indication, however, of the adoption of a more aggressive information-propaganda policy by the Cyprus government itself and more backing to the diaspora communities, to promote the justice of the Cyprus cause, to enlighten international opinion of Turkey's war crimes and the shameful fact that this situation is tolerated by the US, the EU and others. 

Weakness uncovered 

The weakness of the current Cypriot approach on this issue was shown up this week in the address to the Overseas Cypriots conference by US Congressman Frank Pallone, admittedly one of the staunchest supporters of Cyprus for many years. 

"The diaspora can obviously play a role in trying to persuade the US Congress and the Bush administration to exert more pressure on Turkey,'' Pallone said.

"The timing could not be better,'' he added, because of the mounting dissatisfaction, not to say anger, of the US government over Turkey's refusal to join in the military operation against Iraq, which, Pallone stressed, resulted in the loss of more American lives!

The thrust of Pallone's address, however, was on the need for more pressure on Turkey for the resumption of negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan to achieve a settlement; a plan, let it be said, which ignores the EU acquis and the unquestionable right of the refugees to return and to reposses their properties without further delay. 

While pressure for the resumption of talks is necessary, it is far more important to exert much stronger pressure on Turkey to force it to implement both the Security Council resolutions, calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops and mainland settlers from the north, and the return of the refugees to their homes. 

These Council demands are made imperative by the judgements of the Rights Court backing the refugees' right to return, which Turkey is now striving furiously to circumvent and render inoperative.

It is here that the government must adopt a more effective policy, and cooperation, with the diaspora, aimed at ending the international toleration of Turkey's war crimes as a first step toward the achievement of a settlement based on respect for human rights and international law.

Uncovering Turkey's crimes

One small example of what both the government and the diaspora can do to uncover Turkey's crimes and human rights violations in north Cyprus would be the uncovering of Turkey's latest ethnic cleansing move. This is its refusal to allow the operation of a gymnasium (secondary education) school in the occupied Karpass region, a move that will inevitably force more Greek Cypriot families to move south to ensure the proper education of their children. 

This latest Turkish action must be denounced in the strongest possible manner, not simply through protests to the UN, the EU and other governments, protests that in any case tend to be ignored, but through direct paid advertisements in major newspapers to inform the public in America and elsewhere of the toleration of Turkey's crimes by their respective governments. 

Such action needs money, planning, and cooperation with the diaspora. It must be undertaken without delay."