In March 2008, I visited Cyprus with my younger daughter, for the planning of the 12th
International Conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced
Migration (IASFM) in Cyprus in collaboration with the University of Cyprus. The proposal
for the Conference in Cyprus (June 2009) was drafted and presented by me at the 11th
IASFM Conference in Cairo in January 2008 and was voted for at the plenary meeting
The point of entry to the occupied part of Nicosia from Ledra Street.
At the same time, I was excited to visit the beautiful island with the heroic people that
had gone through so much. On the flight to Cyprus, I was thinking of the struggle of the
Cypriot people for liberation from the English colonialists, the young men who had been
tortured and hanged by the brutal dynasts, the Mount Pentadactylos, where pages of
rare heroism had been written and much more.
Also in my mind was the coup d'état of 15 July 1974, organized by the Greek junta in
cooperation with Cypriot nationalists, and the Turkish invasion of 20 July, which caused
However, my joy, being on the island of Aphrodite, with its ancient history, was ended
and turned into anger and ire the same evening, first by a news bulletin in Turkish (from
the Turkish-occupied region) with a provocative appearance and statements by a
Turkish military officer, and then when I saw an enormous Turkish flag on the slope of
the historic Pentadactylos, with flashing lights like a Las Vegas casino! I could not help
myself and burst into tears.
More than 500 churches and monasteries were violently desecrated and destroyed. The ones still standing have been turned into barns, stables, etc.
The next day, we visited the occupied areas. It was a shocking experience. First, we
went through the buffer zone, where hundreds of photos of missing persons and horrors
of the 1974 invasion were posted. Then, at the point of entry, we saw the incomparable
difference between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-occupied territories.
To our left was the hotel Ledra, abandoned and bullet-pierced by Turkish soldiers; to our right, a travel agency, with its window covered with flags of dozens of countries except Greece, an old cobblestone road and an outpost with harsh-looking men, who asked dozens of questions. Fortunately, we were accompanied by a professor known to them.
We walked to a small square and were informed that we could not go any further. We
sat outside a shabby little coffee shop followed by two unknown Turkish Cypriots. One
of them sat down with us and had a chat with our escort in Turkish, not knowing that I
spoke the language.
Their conversation was as shocking as the surroundings! They were talking about a
propaganda program through magazines in English, which were funded directly by
Turkey, published in a Scandinavian country, and distributed in many countries! They
gave me two issues of the magazine, which were seemingly cultural in content.
Seeing the damaged and divided long-suffering Cyprus by the Attilas of 1974, the
provocation of the Turkish flag on Pentadactylos, and the continuing Turkish
propaganda, I became angrier by the indifference of the international community and
particularly of the powerful European states and the US, which, for financial reasons,
allow the horrific crime to still go unpunished, if not a gift to Turkey's appetites.
Turkish invasion 1974. Turkey invaded Cyprus and is still occupying 37% of the island.