Address by Yiorgos Loucaides, AKEL Parliamentary Spokesman, at the “Searching for the Missing Persons in Cyprus” event
‘APOP’ Palekythro Club, Latsia, 29th November 2019
First of all, permit me thank you for inviting me to attend your event this evening, and in particular to congratulate the APOP Palekythro Club, the Bicommunal Association of Missing Persons and Victims of War “Together We Can” and the Rapprochement Bureau of the Central Committee of AKEL for taking this initiative.
On behalf of the Central Committee of AKEL, I convey a warm greeting to your event tonight, which is dedicated to one of the darkest aspects of the drama of Cyprus, namely the issue of the missing persons, and more specifically the missing persons, but also the victims from the village of Palekythros.
Without any doubt, events like tonight’s help to shed light in the dark tunnel, in which the relatives of missing Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have been suffering for decades.
Such events demonstrate that the pain is common, regardless of language and community origin. They also highlight the root cause of the crimes committed, which does not concern one or the other community of our island.
The crime does has a name and it is called Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot nationalism-chauvinism.
It is called Turkish expansionism and the foreign interventions in the internal affairs of Cyprus.
It’s called imperialism.
The drama of the missing persons brought a vicious cycle of inter-communal violence which was fueled by foreign forces, beginning in the 1950’s and which had as a tragic conclusion the Turkish invasion in the summer of 1974. In this cycle of violence, with innocent people mostly the victims, in the majority of cases were victims of revenge for crimes in which they themselves had no involvement at all. Dramatic stories, full of unbearable human pain, linked by the line of human blood that was so unjustly shed. We are constantly reminded of the heinous atrocities and crimes that have been committed, from the villages of Tochni to Palekythros and from Maratha to Assia.
We must put all these stories in the same frame of the crimes against our homeland in order to understand all the aspects of the most dramatic chapter of modern Cypriot tragedy.
It is the only through the correct and complete knowledge of history, through the admission of crimes by anyone who committed them, only through the mutual understanding of each other that we can heal the wounds of the past.
Of course, what is first and foremost most urgent is the identification of the missing persons through the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP). As AKEL we declare that the work of the CMP today urgently needs to be enhanced with new technologies, more researchers and the elaboration of an information gathering campaign to find potential burial grounds.
As AKEL, we have been working in the European Parliament for a number of years to provide further support for the CMP. In addition, as we have announced recently, AKEL is taking the initiative for the reappointment again of a rapporteur from the European Parliament, who will be responsible for monitoring developments on the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus.
I would like to focus particularly on the issue of information gathering, stressing that this is both a collective, but also an individual humanitarian responsibility. Giving information can help solve the puzzle of many cases.
We are at a critical point where the generations who lived the events are passing away and the information they know is disappearing with them. It is therefore a patriotic duty for those who know to speak now, either in public or anonymously. At the same time, it is a debt we owe to the families of 865 Greek Cypriots and 265 Turkish Cypriots, who have the inalienable right to know the fate of their beloved ones and at least to bid them their final farewell according to our traditions and paying them all the tributes they deserve. I therefore repeat that even the slightest information can prove to be very important for the completion of investigations.
Having said that, I must stress of course that Turkey itself plays a particularly important role in making information available. Turkey must comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the 4th Transnational Appeal and immediately provide all the information it holds on the fate of each and every missing person to the Missing Persons Inquiry Committee, as well as to allow the search for remains in areas that it itself has designated as “military zones”.
Speaking on the subject of research, I feel the need to express our thanks and gratitude to those who have volunteered to work on the issue of missing persons through research, but also for raising people’s awareness of the subject.
A brilliant example is the “Together We Can” Association, with which we are co-organizing tonight’s event, and through which the collective volunteer work carried out by both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot activists has helped to find the burial sites of many missing people over the years.
Special congratulations go to our friend and known to us all, Sevgul Uludag, as well as to all the other ‘silent heroes’ for their valuable, full of sensitivity and humane work.
I also warmly congratulate people like Yiorgos Liasis, Petros Soupouris and Hussein Akansoy who not only did not turn their pain into hatred, but instead channeled this pain into the difficult on the one hand, but on the other full of noble ideals and values struggle of building relationships of mutual understanding, reconciliation and rapprochement between the two communities.
We also have to congratulate those people of culture, such as the three painters who are with us tonight, Nilgun, Edna and Idan, who have consciously transformed their art into a valuable tool of peace and hope which our homeland and people so desperately need.
Gathered here today, together Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, we once again join our voices and forces, seeking to put an end once and for all to all that has brought so much pain and suffering to our homeland, so that we can leave behind forever those who have divided our people and country.
We are determined to intensify our common struggle so that we will never again permit any third party and nationalism-chauvinism to write the history of this country.
Only those who believe and are struggling for another Cyprus, a Cyprus of friendship, cooperation and empathy, should write the history from now onwards; those who struggle with the vision of a reunited, peaceful and prosperous Cyprus, the common homeland for all its children.
We have a duty to fulfill this task for those who have left, but especially for the future generations to come.