Those who have had to face most directly and intensely the Turkish occupation of Cyprus are the enclaved; the Greeks who after the 1974 invasion did not leave their homes and villages in and around Rizokarpaso, Ayia Triada and Yialousa in the remote northeast Karpas peninsula.
Their status and right to stay on their land was supposed to have been regulated by the Third Vienna Agreement of 1975, signed by Denktash and Clerides, and at which time the Karpas Greeks numbered 12,000. But the Turks never honoured this agreement and continued to expel and pressurise – through violent and bureaucratic means – the Greeks to leave, so that now the Karpas Greeks total some 230, mainly elderly people, in Ayia Triada and Rizokarpaso.
Even now, the Turkish occupation regime’s policy is to make the lives of the Karpas Greeks intolerable.
Both Ayia Triada and Rizokarpaso – until 1974 exclusively Greek villages – have been colonised with thousands of Turks and Kurds from Turkey and the human rights of the Karpas Greeks continue to be systematically violated.
Last October, British Labour MP, Andrew Dismore, visited the enclaved and wrote the following in a letter to Terry Davies, secretary-general of the Council of Europe:
‘I was horrified by the conditions in which [the Karpas Greeks] are forced to live, and the downright oppression from which they suffer.
‘It is clear that Turkey is doing all it can to force the remaining few residents of the Karpas to leave, so that the area can be settled entirely by Turks from mainland Turkey.
‘There is a breach of virtually every article of the European Convention on Human Rights, as far as the enclaved are concerned.
‘When a crime is committed by a Turk against a Greek Cypriot, the “police” (exclusively in that area Turks from Turkey under military control), find ways of harassing Greek Cypriots.
‘Greek Cypriots are not allowed to follow any occupation except agriculture, nor are allowed to upgrade, modernise or expand their homes.
‘As for education, schoolbooks randomly have pages excised, and the teachers have nowhere to live, so they have to commute from the free areas each day, two hours each way.
‘The diet of the Greek Cypriots is controlled by religion: they are not allowed to breed pigs, so have no pork unless someone brings it from the free areas.
‘The Greek Cypriots are dependent on financial handouts and weekly [UN-organised] food distribution from the free areas.’ (see photo).
Despite all this, the remaining Karpas Greeks refuse to leave, and, indeed, carry out, whenever they can, small acts of resistance, painting shutters and window frames blue, swearing at the muezzin when he calls the usurpers to prayer and so on. Last week, I read this inspiring report in Politis newspaper:
‘For most enclaved residents of Ayia Triada and Rizokarpaso, the monthly state allowance [from the Cyprus government] is their only source of income; but as soon as they received their allowance for August, they used it to bolster funds for the fire-victims in Greece.
‘They collected an amount in line with their means and yesterday [7 September] presented the sum to the Greek ambassador in Nicosia.
‘Savvas Liasis, having crossed into the free areas from Ayia Triada and representing the Karpas enclaved, gave to Ambassador Dimitrios Rallis a cash amount of CY£1,090 ($2,600) from collections made by villagers in Ayia Triada and Rizokarpaso.
‘“We were waiting impatiently,” Mr Liasis said, “for the state allowance, paid on the first Thursday of each month, so that we could contribute as much money as possible. The Greek Cypriot enclaved followed with anxiety everyday on our television screens the tragedy unfolding in Greece.”’