Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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07 June 2007
Turkey destroying Christian heritage of Cyprus, two reports charge
London--"The cultural destruction of not only Greek Orthodox churches in Cyprus but also churches of the Church of Rome as well as churches belonging to Maronites and the Armenians in the occupied north of Cyprus is further evidence that Turkey wants to eliminate all traces of the Christians so as to establish the view that Cyprus has always been a divided island," said Theo Theodorou, spokesman for Lobby of Cyprus, following reports from the Vatican and the Onassis Foundation.

London--"The cultural destruction of not only Greek Orthodox churches in Cyprus but also churches of the Church of Rome as well as churches belonging to Maronites and the Armenians in the occupied north of Cyprus is further evidence that Turkey wants to eliminate all traces of the Christians so as to establish the view that Cyprus has always been a divided island," said Theo Theodorou, spokesman for Lobby of Cyprus, following reports from the Vatican and the Onassis Foundation.

These reports show a systematic destruction of not only the churches but also of other important heritage sites.

This tactic by Turkey is a long-established one, Theodorou claimed, indicating that history has shown that first the Turks eliminate the people, then destroy their cultural heritage in order to deny the existence of the original people.

According to the Greek Orthodox Church records, about 500 churches have been destroyed or pillaged in the occupied north. The Church has already recovered, through a lengthy legal battle in America, priceless frescoes that were stolen from the occupied areas. Other efforts are underway to repatriate various religious relics.

In the monthly ,“30 Days in the church and in the world,” published in Rome, Italian journalist Giovanni Ricciardi presents a chronicle of the 1974 Turkish military invasion of Cyprus and its repercussions up to the recent past.

The largest part of the report describes the condition of Christian churches in occupied Cyprus and the destruction of other important cultural heritage sites.

Ricciardi also notes the destruction of non-Orthodox churches in the occupied area, belonging to Maronites, Armenians, and Catholics and stresses that if Turkey wants to join the European Union, it has to allow the repair and restoration of holy sites as a gesture of good will.

The Scholarship Association of the Onassis Foundation magazine refers to a lecture at the Foundation by Dr. Charalambos Chotzakoglou on the illegal trafficking of antiquities and efforts to repatriate Cypriot treasures. The Professor of History of Byzantine Art at the University of Athens presented the results of the registration program of Christian churches in the occupied area and, using photographic material, it chronicles the registration of the Christian monuments, the improper use of the churches and their conversion into barns, mosques and hotels.

"These reports stress the importance of an immediate settlement of the Cyprus problem before all traces of the island's 3000-year history is destroyed by Turkey," said Theodorou. "It is important that the world demand that Turkey abide by United Nations and European Union resolutions and agreements, and removes it 40,000-man army, takes with them the 160,000 Anatolian colonists brought into the north to change its demographics, and allows all refugees to return to their homes," Theodorou added.

Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political organization devoted to the reunification of the island.