Another invidious aspect of the Turkish occupation of Cyprus is the way Cypriots have to explain their problems, listen to the stupid opinions and suggestions and ask for the assistance – indeed, plead for justice – from idiots.
Beseeching your inferiors for justice tries your patience, damages your ego and makes you cynical. It’s not easy being powerless. It’s not easy having interests that collide with the interests of those who, for whatever reason and however temporarily, have found themselves in a position of global influence able to shape your fortunes, to devastate your fortunes if it suits them. Even in today’s world – of the UN, international law, war crimes, human rights courts and so on – Thucydides’ observation – or rather the observation of the Athenians to the Melians – that ‘the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must’ still applies.
Where’s this leading? This is leading to Joan Ryan. Who is Joan Ryan? Joan Ryan is one of the idiots to whom Cypriots have to plead their case against the Turkish invasion and occupation. Ryan is Labour MP for Enfield North, a marginal seat in suburban North London, where there happens to be a large Cypriot community – Greek and Turk – and for this reason, and this reason alone, has meant she has taken an ‘interest’ in the Cyprus issue, initially as a supporter of the Greek Cypriot cause – attending rallies, making speeches in parliament, going on ‘fact-finding’ missions to the island – usually during the summer months, when the weather is good – then, since the Annan plan and since she began fancying a ministerial career in Tony Blair’s government – the most anti-Greek Cypriot British government for 50 years – as an advocate for the Turkish cause – speaking out in favour of the partitionist Annan plan, direct trade with the occupied areas, recognition of the occupation regime and so on.
Naturally, for those Cypriots in London who put store in having minor political figures of no substance taking positive positions on Cyprus, Ryan’s change of heart amounted to a betrayal. Worse was to follow for the lobbyists; because in June new prime minister Gordon Brown appointed Ryan as his special representative to Cyprus, in which capacity Ryan is currently on the island, ‘listening’, in fact wasting everybody’s time – including President Papadopoulos’ – by pretending that someone as insignificant and thick as she undoubtedly is has something to contribute to finding a way to end the Turkish occupation of the island.
Anyway, here’s a letter sent by the Kyrenian refugee association – Adouloti Kyrenia (Free Kyrenia) – to the British high commissioner in Nicosia concerning the appointment of Ryan and her visit to the island – which demonstrates not only Cypriot resentment towards the British, but how Cyprus is trapped by having to plead for justice from those it knows are out to destroy it:
Dear High Commissioner
Recently you made a public statement that Britain is on our side and we, the Greek Cypriots, misunderstand British policies on the Cyprus issue.
We would like it to be so. We would have liked to have Britain, not on our side, i.e. not on the Greek Cypriot side, but on the side of the Cypriot people as a whole, because, the way we see it, British policies in Cyprus are harming not only the Greeks but the Turks also.
It is not a matter of opinion, but proven fact, that British policies regarding Cyprus, from the 1950s, if not before, have been biased towards the official Turkish position on Cyprus and hostile to the Cypriots, irrespective of origin, race or faith.
This fact has been revealed through your own documents over the years, and is verified by the devastating effects your policies have had on all Cypriots.
We can discuss this claim and present volumes of proof, which, of course, you may brush aside and present all kinds of different interpretations and counterclaims, but the fact remains: Cyprus is still suffering from the Turkish occupation and we are on a daily basis witnessing Britain ‘washing its hands’ of the most significant consequences pertaining to this illegal situation.
One thing that is incontrovertibly true about British policies on Cyprus is that your country continues to push to conclude the agreement it has had with Turkey since 1956 to divide the island into Greek and Turkish zones, at the expense of the human rights of the ordinary people of Cyprus – Greeks, Turks, Armenian, Maronites and others.
Two hundred thousand Greek Cypriot refugees are still waiting to be vindicated, hundreds are still missing, the Turkish Cypriots, far from their own homes and properties, are either emigrating or disappearing under the pressure of the Turkish settlers and the military occupation.
For this situation to exist, on a small island, which is a member of the Commonwealth, is a shame, not on the people of Cyprus, but on Britain and the British people.
One recent development that increases our concern about British policies is the appointment of Joan Ryan as special representative to Cyprus.
She is a declared (by her words and deeds) pro-Turkish person and by this we mean she advocates the legitimisation of the ‘realities’ of the 1974 invasion and the illegal deeds associated with 33 years of occupation.
She is helping neither Greek nor Turkish Cypriots. She is, as revealed by her own statements, promoting the furtherance of division under the cover of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which will permanently divide the Cypriot people on the basis of race and religion. This position, taken together with her failure to declare whether under a bizonal, bicommunal federation all refugees will be able return to their homes, undermines her mission.
We anticipate a broker for peace in Cyprus to advocate:
1. The unconditional and immediate withdrawal of all the Turkish troops and settlers from Cyprus.
2. The immediate restoration of the sovereignty and authority of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.
3. The initiation of practical steps for the resettlement of all refugees.
4. The creation of a reunited country and people, the establishment of a new democratic constitution for Cyprus, based on international law, the European acquis and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, guaranteeing democracy and equality for all the island’s citizens.
Is Mrs Ryan prepared to do this?
To propose a bicommunal, bizonal Cyprus without a commitment for the return of all refugees to their homes and property is to propose keeping the island divided, in the way the Turkish occupation has done for 33 years.
As freedom-loving people who respect international law and, what is more, respect ourselves, we shall not accept the de facto situation in Cyprus becoming a de jure situation, which would condemn us to remain refugees in perpetuity.
Therefore, if Mrs Ryan, and the British government which appointed her as its special representative to Cyprus, are genuinely interested in helping, she should agree to meet us during her visit to Cyprus and be prepared to listen to ordinary people, especially those not in favour of a bizonal, bicommunal solution to the Cyprus problem, because of their fear of becoming permanent refugees.
The Cypriot people deserve to live in a united, democratic country under the EU umbrella, enjoying stability, peace and progress. In short, we believe our future will be guaranteed through a united Cyprus, in which all are allowed to return to their towns and villages of origin.
Please forward our letter and request for a meeting to your government and to Mrs Ryan herself.
Sincerely, for the association,
Read a fuller version of the letter here.