The Pan-Australian Justice for Cyprus Coordinating Committee (PASEKA) commemorates the 48th anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Cyprus.

In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus, and since then has systematically displaced 200,000 Greek Cypriots and other minorities from the northern 37 per cent of the island. Turkey’s actions indicated that their goal had actually been ethnic cleansing and colonization. Until the 1974 invasion, the northern part of Cyprus, like the rest of the island, had been majority Greek. The Turkish invasion forcibly changed that. Today, more than 40,000 Turkish troops are illegally stationed in the occupied area and the indigenous Greek Cypriot residents have never been allowed to return and reclaim their homes and properties.

Meanwhile, the ancient culture and history of the occupied north are being wiped out to perpetrate the myth that the area is Turkish. Geographical names have been Turkified and many Christian churches and monasteries have been destroyed or converted to mosques or stables.

Several archaeological places that were famous and recognised throughout the world have been destroyed or illegally excavated, while a great number of antiquities have been smuggled and remain unfound to this day.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine as they endure a brutal and violent invasion. However, the terrifying world changes started in 1974 when the free world accepted the illegal invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. It is difficult to witness the destruction of Ukraine and not be reminded of Turkey’s violation of European and International law when it illegally invaded the Republic of Cyprus.

The United Nations resolutions on the Question of Cyprus since 1974, have demanded respect for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, unity and the non-aligned status of the Republic of Cyprus, the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupation troops, the return of the refugees to their homes in safety, as well as respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots. These resolutions, which have been systematically violated and disregarded by Turkey, remain to this date unimplemented.

The Cypriots of Australia express the hope that the new situation shaping internationally would lead to the creation of a climate in which other Security Council resolutions, including those on Cyprus, would also be implemented so that justice and peace might be restored in Cyprus as well.

We take this opportunity to ask the Australian Government and the people of Australia, to continue their support for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, to reject Turkish aggression in the region, and to support the pursuit of a settlement to the Cyprus issue for a reunified state, free from Turkish troops with a single sovereignty and international personality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.

The people of Cyprus and their diaspora will never forget the black anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Forty-eight years later we are still committed in spreading awareness to the Australian people and the rest of the world about the ongoing illegal occupation of Cyprus and the violation of basic human rights of the Cypriot people. We call on the International Community to continue their support to the Republic of Cyprus, working towards a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.

Unfortunately, the devastating consequences of Turkey’s illegal aggression continue to be felt to this day by all Cypriots. The continuing occupation of 37% of the territory of the sovereign Republic of Cyprus, the 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees unable to return to their ancestral homes, the massive colonisation of the occupied areas, and the destruction of the religious, cultural and historical heritage of the island continues, in violation of the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law.

Despite efforts towards finding a just and lasting settlement, Cyprus remains forcefully divided. All Cypriots, including the Cypriot Diaspora of Australia still maintain hope for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus Problem that will reunify Cyprus, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions, International Law and EU Law. A solution that will provide a prosperous future and respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Cypriots, regardless of their ethnicity.

We condemn Turkey’s recent illegal activities in occupied Varosha, Famagusta, and support the view that its partial reopening “weakens prospects of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, exacerbating divisions and entrenching the permanent partition of the island.” Varosha has been a military area since the Turkish invasion in 1974 but has always been thought of as the first Confidence Building Measure to be taken when the process of solving the Cyprus problem would be activated.

We also condemn the transformation of Lefkoniko airport into a drone base and Turkish violations of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus by Turkey.

Although a number of resolutions have been issued by the UN to date, they have not been able to find an agreeable resolution. The people of Cyprus became refugees on their own land and their human rights, supposedly defended by the ‘UN’, continue to be violated 48 years later.

Georgia Alexandrou is the Georgia Alexandrou President of PASEKA (Pan-Australian Justice for Cyprus) Australia & New Zealand President of the Cyprus Community of Canberra