It’s been 42 years since Turkish troops invaded Cyprus, and though the years have passed, the memories are as strong as ever among the Cypriot diaspora.
Seeking to rectify the ongoing occupation of the island, nationwide branches of the Pan-Australian Justice for Cyprus Coordinating Committee (PASEKA) have a host of events scheduled to take place across the country, starting with Melbourne.
Kicking off on Thursday, some 15 organisations gathered at the Australian Hellenic Memorial, where they took part in a moving wreath-laying ceremony in honour of those who lost their lives.
Those gathered then moved on to the Turkish Consulate, where a peaceful protest took place and representatives, including Cypriot refugees, some with missing relatives, took the opportunity to present a written resolution and request the withdrawal of Turkish troops to put an end to the occupation.
While it is a stance taken each year by the Cypriot Community, president of PASEKA Constantinos Procopiou is optimistic that 2016 will mark the last year a protest of this nature needs to take place.
“We consider it a part of our struggle to keep everybody informed about the situation in Cyprus,” Mr Procopiou told Neos Kosmos.
“We’ve shown the politicians and the governments that we haven’t forgotten Cyprus, and we expect that they have a stance on Cyprus which will be favourable to the United Nations resolution to withdraw Turkish troops from Cyprus, and to recognise only one authority on Cyprus – the government of the republic and nothing else. We hope this is the last year we have to do that.”
According to Mr Procopiou, the written resolution presented to the Turkish Consulate on Thursday has also been sent to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and to the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.
To further confirm their position and request support from the Australian government and people, on Friday evening a human chain will be formed on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House. Participating on the night will be a number of community representatives and expatriates, including High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus to Australia Ioanna Malliotes.
The Cypriot Community in Brunswick will also host a dinner in memory of the atrocities faced in the summer of 1974, when some 200,000 people were uprooted from their ancestral homes.
To help conclude the commemorations in Melbourne, Secretary of the Council of Ministers Theodosis Tsiolas is scheduled to arrive Down Under from Cyprus on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday morning, which will mark his second visit to Australia, the secretary will take part in a memorial service at South Melbourne’s St Eustathios Greek Orthodox Church at 10.00 am, followed by a protest organised by SEKA Victoria.
Commencing at 1.00 pm on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne’s CBD, the demonstration will conclude on the steps of Parliament.
Departing on Tuesday, Mr Tsiolas’ next stop will be Adelaide, followed by Brisbane and Sydney on Sunday 24 July, where the final commemorations will take place.