Anti-imperialist sections in the Republic of Cyprus organized a protest on Tuesday, November 15, denouncing the continuing imperialist occupation of the northern part of the island by Turkey. The protest was organized by the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) on the 39th anniversary of the proclamation of the Turkish state in Northern Cyprus in 1983. Members of the United Democratic Youth Organisation (EDON) also participated in the rally on Tuesday, gathering at the Orpheus barricade in Nicosia. The protesters denounced the imperialist crimes committed during the Greek military junta-backed coup d’état and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, which led to the de facto political division of the island.
AKEL urged the authorities to resume talks for peace and reunification of Cyprus, from the point where they were interrupted in 2017 due to parochial interests.
The British colonial administration that directly ruled Cyprus (1914-1960) purposefully tried to divide the islanders on ethnic lines in order to weaken the independence movement. Even after attaining independence from the British in 1960, ethnic tension prevailed in the island between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Hyper-nationalists on both sides, with the backing of the Greek and Turkish establishments, confronted each other, causing the escalation of the ethnic conflict during 1963-64. Later, a coup in Cyprus backed by the Greek military in 1974 and the Turkish military’s response resulted in the de-facto division of the country on ethnic lines and the internal displacement of thousands of Cypriots. On November 15, 1983, the Turkish-controlled northern areas of Cyprus unilaterally declared independence and proclaimed the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was rejected by the Republic of Cyprus, the UN, and others, and recognized only by Turkey.
While addressing the protest gathering in Nicosia on Tuesday, Stefanos Stefanou, secretary general of the central committee of AKEL, said, “we are not here to celebrate the memorial service of half of our country. Our event today, on the occasion of the illegal proclamation of the pseudo-state, is a renewal of our commitment that we will continue to fight for liberation and reunification. We will not give our country to anyone. We will never betray our people. And we will do everything in our power to daydream again, as Theodosis Pierides says, in the walls of our beloved Famagusta. To walk freely again in the fortress of Kyrenia. To meet again with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in a free, common homeland in which together we decide and work for its peaceful, safe and happy future.”
In its statement on Tuesday, EDON said that “the illegal proclamation on November 15, 1983 was the continuation of imperialist plans to disintegrate Cyprus and its people.”
Last week, AKEL, EDON and the Pancyprian Peace Council protested plans by the center-right government in the Republic of Cyprus to allocate funds for the creation of a museum dedicated to notorious Greek-Cypriot paramilitary leader Georgios Grivas, who is identified with political violence and was responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent progressive Greek and Turkish Cypriots during his career.