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Cyprus: 'We will never forget'

A series of memorial events organised by SEKA and the Cyprus Community of SA take place this month to mark 43 years since Turkey's military invasion of Cyprus

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A Greek Cypriot woman looking for her missing husband in 1974. Photo: gundemkibris.com

10 July 2017

This year marks 43 years since Turkey's military invasion of Cyprus. The Justice for Cyprus Coordination Committee SA (SEKA), in association with the Cyprus Community of SA are organising a series of memorial events to take place on Sunday 16 and Wednesday 19 July.

"These events are an expression of our solidarity and support to the people of Cyprus, wherever they may be, and a mark of respect to those who lost their lives for liberty," says Professor Andreas Evdokiou, President of the Cyprus Community, SA who, at the tender age of 11 years, experienced firsthand the tragedies of the 1974 invasion.

"I was born in Aradippou and lived [through] the horrific days of the invasion and the tragedy that followed," recalls 53-year-old Evdokiou whose family fled Cyprus a year later.

"We migrated to Australia shortly after, in 1975, because, after the events of 1974, my family could no longer live and work in Cyprus. But the images of thousands of people losing their lives, their homes, their families have stayed with me and always come back when I visit Cyprus," says Evdokiou, who to this day, refuses to accept the fact that Cyprus hasn't been able to claim back its independence.

"Seeing families going back home, knowing that they can't even step foot into their own homes or show their children where they used to live, is just devastating. You feel like you are a stranger in your own country, unwelcomed inside your own home and that's awful and unfair; particularly towards those that resisted, fought hard and gave their lives to save the island but never got to see Cyprus united again [after] the Turkish military occupation. An occupation that brought forcible division, violation of human rights, massive colonisation, cultural destruction, property usurpation, and ethnic segregation."

Greek Cypriot women watch as men are taken away by Turkish soldiers. Photo: The Missing Cypriots

SEKA and the Cyprus Community of SA's press release outlines the activities scheduled for Sunday 16 July that will start at 10.00 am with a memorial service at the Church of St George in Thebarton followed by a wreath-laying ceremony and doxology at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier, erected last year at the Cyprus Community Cultural Centre at Welland.

"We will also have an open forum discussion on the current position of the Cyprus issue by this year's official representative of the Republic of Cyprus, Michael Sofokleous director of the President's office," explains Evdokiou. The presentation will be held at the Cyprus Community of SA club rooms in Welland on Wednesday 19 July at 7.00 pm.

Refreshments and canapés will be provided. Mr Sofokleous will be accompanied by the new High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Her Excellency Mrs Martha Mavrommati, and Mr Vakis Zissimos, Second Secretary.

"It has been 43 years and we are still talking about this. It really hurts to think that so many years have passed by, yet we have not been able to achieve a mutual agreement and the issue remains unresolved.
"What's even more disappointing is the fact that we are not seeing any real intention from the Turkish government for those issues to be discussed whilst third parties show no intention of withdrawing from any kind of negotiations for an issue that is amongst two countries to resolve and find a fair solution for; Greece and Turkey."

Greek Cypriot refugees shelter in Dhekelia following the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus. Photo: Daily Mail

Professor Evdokiou, who was elected president of the Cypriot Community of SA approximately two years ago, has taken to social media to send his message all around the world, hoping to gain attention and start a conversation, in an attempt to also attract the interest of the younger generation of Greeks and Cypriots as well as the diaspora worldwide.

"Our generation and the generations before us were the ones that lived [through] the events of 1974 which will forever live in our minds and hearts. At the same time though, it is important to educate the younger generation and encourage them to research and come to their own conclusions as to what happened in the past so that they can get actively involved.
"Otherwise, this state of affairs will stand as an affront to the international legal order and an ongoing threat to regional stability."

According to historical data, approximately 200,000 Cypriots were evicted from their homes and became refugees after the 1974 invasion while 4,000 people lost their lives, and around 1,619 people went missing.

"The island remains divided since then and the obstacles are many and hard to overcome but we will not rest until we see the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots unite on Cyprus' land and live in harmony in the years to come," said Professor Evdokiou.

"All we ask is that people help us in redoubling our efforts to promote a just and viable solution to the Turkish military occupation and forced division of the island and its people."

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