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Op-Ed on “State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices in Cyprus Deeply Flawed”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
April 12, 2007—No. 21 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed on “State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices in Cyprus Deeply Flawed”

Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the March 31, 2007 issue of The National Herald, page 11, the March 26, 2007 issue ofGreek News, page 40, the April 11, 2007 issue of The Hellenic Voice, page 5 and it will appear in the May issue of the Hellenic News of America, page 3.

State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices in Cyprus Deeply Flawed

By Gene Rossides

3-21-07

The State Department’s annual worldwide Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006 were released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on March 6, 2007. State’s Country Report on Cyprus is deeply flawed and has been for years.

The State Department’s deliberate failure to state that Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and committed massive human rights violations, a number of which continue to the present time, is a key factor in the continuing Turkish military control and occupation of 36.2 percent of Cyprus and the division of Cyprus now in its 33rd year.

The State Department’s deliberate failure to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of 160,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and property by Turkey’s military forces as violations of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and Turkey’s refusal to allow the displaced persons to return to their homes and properties as continuing human rights violations, is a travesty of justice and not in the national interest of the U.S.

State has failed to acknowledge that the Turkish military’s continuing human rights violations in Cyprus against the Greek Cypriots is a violation of Section 116 of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.

Human rights considerations have become an integral part of United States foreign policy and are clearly set forth in our statutes. Section 116 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 has been in effect since 1975. Section 116 states that no assistance may be provided: “to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights…”

Even tougher parallel provisions relate to military assistance. Section 502B(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 makes human rights an integral part of all United States foreign policy. It provides:

  1. The United States shall, in accordance with its international obligations as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations and in keeping with the constitutional heritage and traditions of the United States, promote and encourage increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. Accordingly, a principal goal of the foreign policy of the United States shall be to promote the increased observance of internationally recognized human rights by all countries.
  2. Except under circumstances specified in this Section, no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights….”

In concrete terms under Section 502 B, the President:

is directed to formulate and conduct military assistance programs…in a manner which will promote and advance human rights. These programs are also designed to avoid identification of the United States with governments which deny to their people internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, in violation of international law or in contravention of the policy of the Unites States as expressed in section 502B(a)(1) or otherwise.

While the provisions of Sections 116 and 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, were not in force at the time of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, their terms apply to the continuing occupation of Cyprus, the continuing detention of persons, the continuing taking and use of Greek Cypriot homes and property, the continuing prevention by armed force of the return of Greek Cypriots to their homes and property, the deprivation of freedom of movement and settlement and other violations.

By its actions in Cyprus, Turkey is in clear and incontrovertible violation of section 116 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Turkey has engaged and continues to engage “in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Similarly, Turkey’s actions in Cyprus make her ineligible under section 502B(a)(1) of the Act which provides that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” A list of Turkey’s human rights violations include:

  1. the ethnic cleansing of 160,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and properties;
  2. the taking by force of over 35,000 thousand Greek Cypriot homes and property in the occupied north of Cyprus. Most of these homes have been taken for a period of over 32 years, a continuing violation;
  3. the prevention by armed force of the return of the Greek Cypriots to their homes and lands in safety in the occupied north, a continuing violation;
  4. the giving or selling of these Greek Cypriot homes and lands to the illegal Turkish settlers and occupation forces in the occupied north of Cyprus;
  5. the illegal use on a continuing basis by the illegal Turkish occupation forces and illegal Turkish setters/colonists of Greek Cypriot homes and property in the occupied north of Cyprus;
  6. the abduction and prolonged and clandestine detention without charges of over 1,400 Greek Cypriots; and
  7. the illegal taking of property owned by United States citizens and the illegal use of such property by the Turkish occupation forces and the illegal Turkish settlers/colonists, a continuing violation.

The Executive Branch has a duty to enforce the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and immediately halt all military aid, including military training funds, and economic aid to Turkey and withdraw all economic benefits from Turkey because of Turkey’s human rights violations in Cyprus. If the purported goal of United States foreign policy is to promote human rights, then Turkey’s offenses against Greek Cypriots its and continued occupation in Cyprus must not be tolerated.

The State Department’s positions, policies and actions on Cyprus are key obstacles to progress towards a just and workable agreement between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots for reunification of their island country.

The State Department’s failure to treat Turkish troops and settler/colonists in Cyprus and Turkey’s barbed wire fence across Cyprus as human rights violations against the Greek Cypriots is a major obstacle to achieving a just and workable settlement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The State Department’s failure to treat Turkey as an invader of Cyprus and occupier of almost 40 percent of Cyprus is preventing meaningful dialogue between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

How could the State Department in its Human Rights Country Report on Cyprus make no reference to the 1974 Turkish military invasion and occupation?

How could the State Department in its Human Rights Country Report on Cyprus make no reference to the ethnic cleansing of 160,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and property?

How could the State Department in its Human Rights Country Report on Cyprus make no reference to the 140,000 illegal Turkish settler/colonists brought to Cyprus by Turkey in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, section III, article 49?

How could the State Department in its Human Rights Report on Cyprus fail to mention the UN Security Council resolutions that brand Turkey’s occupation illegal and specifically accuse Turkey of continuing human rights violations?

How could the State Department Human Rights Report on Cyprus fail to state that the Turkish military is in full control of the occupied area of Cyprus, which is nearly 40 percent of Cyprus?

The Department’s report states that “the northern part, administered by Turkish Cypriots, proclaimed itself the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)’ in 1983. The United States does not recognize the ‘TRNC,’ nor does any country other than Turkey.”

Yet the State Department then proceeds to analyze the Turkish Cypriot constitution as if it had legitimacy. Such actions and policies of the State Department demonstrate the pro-Turkish bias and anti-Greek Cypriot bias and anti-rule of law bias of the State Department that are harmful to U.S. interests in Cyprus and the region.

Get active. Call and write to President George W. Bush (1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20500, tel. 202-456-1111 President’s message line), Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, tel. 202-647-4000), your 2 U.S. senators and your representative (tel. 202-224-3121) and protest the deeply flawed contents of the State Department’s Human Rights Country Report on Cyprus designed to appease Turkey and absolve Turkey for its aggression against Cyprus and occupation of nearly 40 percent of Cyprus.

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For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or georgia@ahiworld.org. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.