Thirty-six years ago this month, Turkey invaded the tiny nation of Cyprus, killing thousands and forcing 200,000 Greek-Cypriots from their homes before establishing a military occupation of the northern third of the island.
Armed with U.S.-supplied weapons (sold to Turkey on the condition they be used for defensive purposes only), Turkey invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, under the guise of protecting the Turkish minority (about 18 percent of the population) following an unsuccessful coup against the government of Cyprus by forces loyal to the military junta that governed Greece at the time.
In a matter of days, the 40,000-strong Turkish invasion force drove nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes, farms and businesses, turning them into refugees in their own country.
Greece attempted to intervene on behalf of Cyprus, but then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered the U.S. 7th Fleet to blockade the Greek navy with orders to sink the Greek ships if they did not return to their home ports.
A cease-fire was arranged on Aug. 16, 1974, but the damage was done. More than 6,000 Greek-Cypriots were killed by the Turkish troops and another 1,600 (including five American citizens) disappeared behind Turkish lines. Thirty-six years later, there has never been a full accounting by Turkey of what happened to the 1,300 men, 116 women and 133 children caught behind the advancing Turkish army.
Mass graves have been uncovered on parts of the island where civilians were executed by the Turks. Eyewitnesses have testified before investigative commissions of the systematic rape, torture and execution of Cypriot civilians, including children, the edlerly and the disabled.
The Turkish invasion and continuing violation of human rights in Cyprus has been condemned by every major international body, including the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth of Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe. Turkey’s entry into the European Union has been rejected because it continues to occupy a current EU member — Cyprus.
Turkey is clearly in violation of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the United Nations Charter and the NATO Treaty.
Fed by billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic aid, Turkey thumbs its nose at international law and U.S. taxpayers. This is the same Turkey that continues to have one of the worst records of human rights violations in the world.
Turkey maintains 35,000 occupation troops (armed and equipped by U.S. tax dollars) on Cyprus to prevent the Greek-Cypriots from returning to their homes. It has ignored dozens of U.N. resolutions condemning the invastion and calling for withdrawal of all Turkish troops as a prelude for unification of the island.
As long as U.S. dollars flow into Turkish coffers, there is no incentive for Turkey to leave Cyprus.
No comments yet.