Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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17 July 2014
Cypriots seek to end Turkey's impunity
17 July marks International Justice Day, which recognises the emerging system of international criminal justice.

Lobby for Cyprus has chosen to mark this day by joining the most recent complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Lobby for Cyprus has joined the complainant group, Cypriots Against Turkish War Crimes (CATWC) in their criminal complaint against Turkish government officials before the ICC. The complaint was filed on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Turkish invasion.
 
The petitioners call on the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation into ongoing Turkish crimes on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, and in particular, the continued growth of Turkish settlements in the occupied territory. The Turkish occupation is one of the most brazen settlement enterprises in modern times, as colonists from the Turkish mainland now constitute as much as half the population of the occupied territory.
 
The communication was filed by Athan Tsimpedes who represents the complainant CATWC, an informal association, recently formed as a result of the issues that continue to this day from the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974. One of the main issues is the continued maintenance and establishment of Turkish settlements that affects the members of CATWC and Cyprus. The goal of CATWC is to create awareness, debate and discussion to the public about Turkey's War Crimes towards Cypriots. CATWC is represented by Athan Tsimpedes of the Tsimpedes Law Firm, Washington DC. The Shurat HaDin Law Center assisted in researching and drafting the complaint.
 
This unprecedented demand for a war crimes investigation seeks to end the impunity Turkey has enjoyed for its criminal conduct since it invaded the island republic on 20 July  1974.  Turkey's settlement activity in northern Cyprus is well documented, having been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Yet despite this, and despite its occupation of an EU member state, Turkey and its leaders have avoided any legal consequences for their crimes.
 
An investigation by the Court's prosecutor would be the first attempt to shine the harsh light of international criminal justice on the Turkish occupation. The complaint demonstrates that Turkey is in blatant and systematic violation of Art. 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Court's Statute, which prohibits an occupying power from directly or indirectly transferring its civilians into the occupied territory. Turkey has, continuously since the invasion, recruited, encouraged and transported Turks from rural areas of the mainland to settle the occupied territory.  The demographic magnitude of the settler establishment threatens the feasibility of a mutually acceptable end to the conflict.
 
According to Dr Theodora A Christou (a Consultant at Tsimpedes Law Firm and Executive Member of Lobby for Cyprus), “The present case focuses on the transfer of Turkish nationals to the area of Cyprus it occupies. This does not only concern the transfer of people, but also touches on a number of issues, including the redistribution of property, the creation of ‘universities’, the financial incentives offered to move to Cyprus, the development of the infrastructure, involvement in the energy industry and tourism development – all of these activities are unlawful and an occupying power is prohibited under international law from conducting them to the extent that Turkey has in Cyprus.”
 
Cyprus has been a member of the Court since its establishment in 2002. No nation recognises the legitimacy of sovereignty of the Turkish occupation regime in northern Cyprus. The fact that Turkey occupies a part of Cyprus does not affect the ICC’s jurisdiction over the entire island. Thus, the ICC clearly has jurisdiction over the war crimes committed by the Turkish government in the occupied territory. Whilst, the ICC will only investigate acts committed after 2002, the seriousness of the crime remains the same and statistics indicate that after 2002 the transfer of populations to the occupied areas has in fact accelerated.
 
Note to editors: 
  • The full communication can be downloaded from the Tsimpedes Law Firm, where details of how to join CATWC can also be found. www.tsimpedeslaw.com/icc-complaint.html 
  • 17 July was chosen because it is the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the Treaty that created the International Criminal Court.
  • 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.
  • Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party political NGO that campaigns for a united Cyprus.  
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