Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
Print this page Print Bookmark and Share
Press Releases

11 February 2008
Move to take plight of churches in occupied north to ECHR supported by Lobby for Cyprus
London – The much neglected status of the situation of the Orthodox Churches in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus is to be taken to the European Court of Human Rights and Lobby for Cyprus endorses and supports the move.

“Not only are the churches being desecrated and its treasures looted,” said Lobby for Cyprus spokesman, Theo Theodorou, “but also the Turkish government is denying pilgrims access to them.”

The Primate of the Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos, has reported that “there are churches in the occupied areas, which are half destroyed, some have collapsed, others were demolished and most recently a church in the Karpass peninsula was razed to the ground.” There are about 500 Greek Orthodox churches in the part of Cyprus currently occupied by the Turkish military, and the Archbishop has expressed fears that “if restoration is not allowed to start soon the churches will begin to collapse one after the other.”

“What is happening to the Greek Church,” Theodorou said, “has been happening to the Armenian and the Maronite churches in the occupied area, as well.”

In his announcement of the move to go to the Court of Human Rights, the Archbishop said “We have reached a very dangerous point, we are not asking for anything more than the restoration of our human rights and we will fight for them.” The Archbishop added that the occupation authorities do not allow the Church to send priests to the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas, situated on the rocky coast in the easternmost point of the Karpas peninsula. It was built in 1867.

“The Turks want to uproot everything Greek and Christian in the occupied areas, and we will fight with all our strength to prevent this from happening,” Archbishop Chrysostomos concluded.

“In the immediate aftermath of the military invasion of Cyprus by the Turks, in 1974, until today,” Theodorou added in Lobby’s statement of support, “what has been taking place is large scale damage to churches – historic churches have been seized, stripped and whitewashed and converted into mosques. Some churches have become stables and store houses. This is desecration of the first order. In most of the Orthodox graveyards not a single tombstone has remained standing.” What Turkey is doing, he added, is what it has done throughout its recent history – get rid of the people, then get rid of any trace of their presence.

Theodorou said that in maintaining its occupation of the north of the island, Turkey is in defiance of the United Nations as well as the European Union.

Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political organisation that seeks the reunification of the island through the removal of the 43,000 man Turkish army, the repatriation of the 160,000 Anatolian colonists imported into the north to change its demographics in violation of all international laws, and the return of all refugees to their homes.