On Wednesday 18 July a packed Theatro Technis, in Camden Road, London heard the Bishop of Karpasia urge the audience to have hope for a better future for the Enclaved of Cyprus, the ethically cleansed refugees and the people of Cyprus generally.
The Bishop was speaking at the annual Lobby for Cyprus seminar at Theatro Technis, which has now been given the name of the Kyriakos Christodoulou seminar in honour of Lobby's co-founder, former co-ordinator and one of the architects of the 3Rs, Kyriakos Christodoulou. The seminar was jointly organised by Lobby for Cyprus and the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain and brought together a distinguished panel of speakers, each with their own insight into the Cyprus issue and the problems and tragedies faced by the Enclaved.
The panel was Chaired by Marina Yannakoudakis MEP and consisted of Bishop Christoforos of Karpasia; Panicos Hadjipantelis, an adviser to the Cyprus Archbishopric; Elias Manitaras, an author who has recently published his first book about Rizokarpasso; Nicos Hinallas, talking about his grandmother's experiences in the village; and Nick Kounoupias from Lobby for Cyprus putting the human rights issue of the enclaved into context.
The keynote speaker was the Bishop who outlined the difficulties and challenges faced by the Enclaved, who he said now number about 280 people, to retain their culture and religion amongst the intimidation, persecution and discrimination of the Anatiolian colonists who have swamped the village of Rizokarpasso and surrounding areas in fulfilment of Turkey's policy of ethnic engineering in the occupied area. The Bishop however told of how the Enclaved had lost hope in the foreign powers easing their plight and had to search within to find 'elpida' hope. The Bishop outlined the steps taken by the Turks to prevent him conducting religious services and to intimidate him and others from worshipping in the village and at the monastery of Apostolos Andreas. He emphasised that although he is originally from Lemesos he had now become a 'Karpasiti' and that the struggle of the Enclaved was his struggle also.
He also told of how a number of miracles had recenly been reported in the village and that he believed that God's power would aid the return to the village. Finally the Bishop argued against sales of land in the village via the Immoveable Property Commission (IPC) and against plans to carve up Cyprus. He asked that we all publicise the plight of the Enclaved and not neglect them.
Mr Hadjipantelis talked about Turkey's policy of ethnic cleansing in the occupied area and the determination to extinguish all Greek and Christian heritage. He movingly spoke about his own family's eviction from their home in Yialoussa.
Mr Manitaras showed many photographs, evidencing the devastation in Rizokarpasso. The Turks have destroyed not only obvious places of concern to them such as churches and cemetries but also works of art and architecture bearing witness to the lack of appreciation of the colonists to basic standards of civilised society. He also movingly spoke of the killing of his father by a Turkish colonist many years ago.
Mr Hinallas told of the heroic stance adopted by his grandmother to the intimidation of the colonists. To several rounds of applause he showed how the power of the human spirit when allied to hope creates an inextinguishable momentum that no intimidation can conquer.
Finally Nick Kounoupias reminded the audience that the keyword from tonight was 'hope' and told the story from Greek mythology of Pandora's Box and how Hope, a little flicker of light, was saved. Nick pointed out that in 2002 the European Court of Human Rights had questioned Turkey's commitment to bizonality becuase of the way that it treated the Enclaved, a Greek Cypriot minority within a Turkish swamped area. Nick said that this reinforced Lobby's views on the dangers of bizonality and backed it up by pointing out that in a multicultural society, carving a state up on ethinc lines is a nonsense which Lobby could not support. Co-ordinator Theo Theodorou stated that Lobby for Cyprus will campaign until the 3Rs are achieved.
Mary Karaolis, President of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain thanked the speakers and urged those in attendance to keep up their interest in the occupied village of Rizokarpasso.
The seminar finished with the Bishop presenting to Marina Yannakoudakis an icon to commemorate her 'yiorti' (name day) which had been the day before.
Note to editors:
• The Republic of Cyprus was invaded by Turkish troops in 1974.
• Turkey maintains an illegal occupation in the north of the island with 40,000 troops in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
• 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees and displaced persons are prevented from returning to their homes in the occupied north.
• Turkey continues its policy of colonising the occupied territory with hundreds of thousands of Turkish nationals in an attempt to alter the demography of the island, in violation of the Geneva convention.
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