The Greek-Cypriot community has commemorated the anniversary of the Turkish invasion of their homeland with the resounding commitment never to forget the injustice that started 35 years ago.
A program of activities which started on Thursday with a rally outside of the Turkish consulate came to an end yesterday with a memorial service at St Eustathios in South Melbourne and a rally on the steps of Parliament House at lunchtime.
The rally for ‘Justice in Cyprus’ was attended by Dr Titos Christofidis, Under Secretary to the President of Cyprus as well as young people dressed in folkloric costumes holding flags and banners, relatives of people killed or who disappeared at the time of the invasion in 1974 and representatives from a range of Greek and Cypriot community organisations.
The crowd at Parliament House was addressed by Dr Christofidis and by the National and Victorian president of the Coordinating Committee for Justice in Cyprus. The organisers expressed their satisfaction with the attendance at the rally.
However attendance at the rally was down in comparison to previous years.
Dr Christofidis and the High Commissioner of Cyprus, Iaonnis Iakovou also attended the events in Melbourne last Friday, the second day of the commemorations.
The annual protest outside the Turkish embassy was not well attended and the petition to the Turkish authorities made its way to the embassy via the Australian Federal Police, since embassy officials refused to meet with the Cypriot delegation.
The vigil at the steps of the Victorian Parliament was a sombre event and one that captured public attention.
The protesters then moved to the premises of the Greek-Cypriot Community of Melbourne and Victoria for a modest dinner of memory and contemplation.
The vice-president of the Cypriot Community Tony Kyriakou made a passionate plea during his address for the young Cypriot-Australians to always remember the injustice that keeps their country divided and never give up their fight for a just solution.
The notable absence of young Greek-Cypriots from this year’s commemorations matched the poorly organised presentation on Friday night on the destruction of churches in the occupied territories.
The absence of Cypriot and Greek community leaders was also visible at the dinner.
However a dignified speech by federal MP Maria Vamvakinou saw her reaffirm that “we’ll be coming here every year and for as long as it’s needed until a just solution is reached”.
Dr Christofidis captured the audience’s attention with his restrained passion and repeated the Cypriot government’s position that “ timelines for a solutions are not important , what is important is the content of the solution” while at the same time he voiced his disappointment with the Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat by saying that he didn’t match up to President Christofias’ expectations.
Additional reporting by Claire Gazis.