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Cyprus is relevant to youth regardless of the article publiched in NKEE

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30 July 2009

The invasion of Cyprus by Turkey will always be relevant to the youth – due to the significant violations of human rights which continue and still affect the families and loved ones of many young Greek-Australians.

Contrary to the article published in Neos Kosmos on  July 21 ‘Cyprus issue: not relevant to youth’, the issue at hand is not one of relevance, it is one of comprehension.

It is difficult for young Greek-Australians to fully comprehend the magnitude of what happened in 1974, the current situation ‘on-the-ground’, let alone the sentiments and opinions of their parents and grandparents who lived through the events of 1974.

Growing up in a peaceful, tolerant, free and democratic society in Australia, far removed from the violence experienced in many countries abroad, it is difficult to imagine restrictions on our freedom or contraventions of our basic human rights.

It is in this respect that the ‘tyranny of distance’ is most strongly felt by communities of the diaspora, and this effect is only magnified as we move from second to third-generation Greek-Australians.

It is for this reason that the programs and activities run by organisations such as NEPOMAK are so important.

One of NEPOMAK’s key programmes, the NEPOMAK Discover Cyprus Programme (NDCP), offers young Australians of Cypriot descent the opportunity to travel to Cyprus and participate in a three week course at the University of Cyprus, where they learn learn about the culture and history of the country of their parents and grandparents.

Participants return from such programmes with a fantastic passion and enthusiasm for their heritage and a considerate understanding of the political situation which continues to divide the island.

These are the youth who return home with the desire to become involved in their local communities, with the desire to share the culture and history that they have learnt, who participate in commemorative marches and who dedicate their time and efforts to help run organisations such as NEPOMAK in Australia, to ensure that the programmes we run can continue to be offered to our fellow youth for generations to come.

If our youth can understand their heritage and history, we can have no fear that our culture and issues such as the situation in Cyprus will ever fade out of memory.

Clearly, it is not correct to state that the events of 1974 are not relevant to the youth of today. Rather, the challenge lies in reaching the youth and educating them on what happened in Cyprus, what the consequences were and what it means to have Cyprus as part of your heritage.

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