‘Festival’ of the occupied north of the Republic of Cyprus

Occupied-Cyprus-wp

Lobby for Cyprus letter to the Business Design Centre regarding the ‘Festival of North Cyprus’ hosted at the BDC on 5-6 May 2017 in London.


Mr Dominic Jones
The Chief Executive
Business Design Centre Group Ltd
52 Upper Street
Islington
London N1 0QH

27 April 2017

Dear Mr Jones

Re: ‘Festival of North Cyprus’ 5-6 May 2017

It has come to our attention that the Business Design Centre will be hosting the ‘Festival of North Cyprus‘ on 5-6 May.

The website of the Business Design Centre informs potential attendees that they will: “encounter the diverse sectors of northern Cyprus, along with its natural, historical and cultural wealth. Among the exhibitors will be hotels and resorts, tour operators, universities, private hospitals, industrialists, and construction companies that are providing services in the northern part of Cyprus.”

As you may not be aware of the legal realities and dangers that pertain in the occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus which this ‘Festival’ will seek to promote, this letter has been composed with a view to assisting you and inviting you to re-consider your position.

The invasion, occupation, ethnic cleansing and religious cleansing of the northern area of the Republic of Cyprus
The Republic of Cyprus, which was established in 1960, is a member state of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe and since 2004 the European Union. However, after an invasion launched in two phases on 20 July and 14 August 1974, Turkey unlawfully occupied as much as 37 per cent of the territory and 57 per cent of the coastline of the Republic of Cyprus.

The invasion resulted in Turkey, its armed forces and its agents engaging in rape, murder, torture and the use of chemical weapons (napalm) against ethnic Greeks, Christians and other non-Turks. Turkey thereby procured forced evictions, forcible transfers, deportations and other crimes contrary to inter alia Articles 49 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. (These provisions are not only part of the domestic law of the Republic of Cyprus; they are also part of the domestic law of England by virtue of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957.) By the same token, Turkey committed grave violations of human rights in breach of inter alia the European Convention on Human Rights 1950.

The evidence lies, for instance, in the United Nations Archives, in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, in the Report of the European Commission of Human Rights adopted by the Council of Europe on 10 July 1976 and in the judgments of various courts. The latter include the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Cyprus v Turkey (2001) ECHR 331 and Cyprus v Turkey (2014) ECHR 478.

By invading in two phases in 1974, Turkey managed to realise its long-standing ambition to occupy the northern area of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey ethnically and religiously cleansed that area, de facto segregated the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus along ethnic as well as religious lines and unlawfully colonised the occupied area with its own citizens.

As the Court of Appeal of England and Wales has recognised:

“By 16 August 1974 it [Turkey] had occupied a large area in the north amounting to just over one third of the whole island (the occupied area). Many members of the Greek Cypriot community in the occupied area fled, in fear of armed force, from their homes and businesses to other parts of the island.”
Polly Peck International PLC v The Marangos Hotel [1998] EWCA Civ 789, per Mummery LJ

In 1983, pursuant to a purported unilateral “declaration of independence”, Turkey began referring to the occupied area as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”). However, as the Court of Appeal of England and Wales has stated in another case:

“UN Security Council resolution 541 (1983) deplored the declaration and considered it legally invalid, and called upon all states to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus. A further resolution, 550 (1984), called upon all states not to recognise the purported state of the TRNC. Neither the United Kingdom nor any other state with the exception of Turkey has recognised the TRNC.”
R (Yollari v Secretary of State for Transport & Anor [2010] EWCA Civ 1093, per Richards LJ

Cultural and historical destruction
There are unsettling parallels between the unrecognised “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and the “Caliphate” purportedly declared just a few miles to the east of Cyprus by the unrecognised “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”. Indeed, in common with what “ISIL” has done in parts of Syria, Turkey has obliterated substantial parts of the historical and cultural heritage of the occupied north of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has done this with the ostensible aim of erasing virtually all signs of 2,000 years of Greek, Christian and Byzantine heritage of the occupied north.

For example, Turkey, its armed forces or its agents have ransacked museums, destroyed cemeteries and converted churches into mosques, stables, public toilets and morgues. To compound this unlawful state of affairs, religious sites have been desecrated and churches have been stripped of their icons, mosaics and other artefacts before being sold illegally on the black market or via other means. To quote from The Loss of a Civilization: Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Occupied Cyprus, a publication of the Republic of Cyprus:

“More than 500 churches and monasteries have been looted or destroyed: more than 15,000 icons of saints, innumerable sacred liturgical vessels, gospels and other objects of great value have literally vanished.”
The Loss of a Civilization: Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Occupied Cyprus (Nicosia: Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus 2012), page 10

The systematic destruction and eradication of the cultural heritage of occupied Cyprus is manifestly contrary to inter alia the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Compelling evidence of the above lies in various reliable sources including a report entitled Cyprus: Destruction of Cultural Property published online by the US Library of Congress. Further evidence lies in the judgments of a number of courts. These include one in which the United States Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit issued

“a reminder that greed and callous disregard for the property, history and culture of others cannot be countenanced by the world community or by this court.”
Autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church of Cyprus v Goldberg & Feldman Fine Arts and Goldberg, United States Court of Appeal, Seventh Circuit, No. 89-2809, 24 October 1990

For decades, many politicians pursued a pro-Turkish policy of appeasement and, as a result, they turned a blind to the crimes and human rights violations committed by or on behalf of Turkey in the Turkish-occupied area. Today, the dangers inherent in this policy have backfired in spectacular circumstances. Under President Erdogan, Turkey has been unmasked as an undemocratic, unstable and unpredictable state which stands accused of assisting “ISIL”, blackmailing the European Union and endangering the citizens of the European Union.

More to the point, Turkey continues to occupy the homes and properties of all those who were forcibly displaced from their homes, businesses and other properties in 1974.

The Business Design Centre: Due diligence, risk assessment and legal obligations In the light of the above, please provide written replies to the questions set out below.

  1. Which specific “hotels”, “resorts”, “universities”, “private hospitals”, “industrialists”, “construction companies” and other entities will be represented at the “Festival of North Cyprus”? Please provide a complete list which should include the names and addresses of each of the owners of each of these entities.
  2. Which due diligence measures or risk assessments have you carried out to ascertain whether any of the entities mentioned in question 1 above unlawfully occupies or otherwise exploits any properties in the occupied north of Cyprus which, under the law of the Republic of Cyprus, do not belong to them? If you have not carried out any such measures or assessments, why not? If so, please provide full details.
  3. Which due diligence measures or risk assessments have you carried out to ascertain whether any of the entities mentioned in question 1 above unlawfully occupies or otherwise exploits any properties which, under the law of the Republic of Cyprus, belong to persons who have been forcibly or otherwise unlawfully displaced from them? If you have not carried out any such measures or assessments, why not? If so, please provide full details.
  4. Does the advertising and publicity material relating to the “Festival of Cyprus” refer to the crimes, human rights violations and other legal realities mentioned above? If not, why not? If so, please provide evidence.
  5. Does the advertising and publicity material relating to the “Festival of Cyprus” refer to the potentially adverse legal consequences which may arise if any money is handed over or if other forms of support are given to any “hotels”, “resorts”, “universities”, “private hospitals”, “industrialists”, “construction companies” and other entities which occupy or otherwise exploit any properties lawfully belonging to persons who have been unlawfully evicted or forcibly transferred from such property? If not, why not? If so, please provide evidence.
  6. Bearing in mind the new Modern Slavery Act 2015 (enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom), have you carried out any due diligence measures or risk assessments to ascertain whether any of the entities mentioned in Question 1 are engaged in slavery, servitude, forced labour, compulsory labour, human trafficking or other related unlawful practices? If not, why not? If so,
    please provide evidence.

Bearing in mind your various statutory and other legal duties, for example under section 172(1)(d) Companies Act 2006, together with your corporate social responsibility to act ethically, we trust and hope that you will provide written replies to all of the above questions.

In the meantime, we trust and hope you will reconsider your decision to support the “North Cyprus Festival” and thereby play a part in propping up an unlawful regime and an unlawful occupation, both of which are products of grave crimes and human rights violations. In these respects, we take this opportunity to remind you that the multi-ethnic and multi-faith population of London and the United Kingdom includes thousands of people who were born in, have roots in or are otherwise associated with the northern area of the Republic of Cyprus which is unlawfully occupied. We trust you will respect them by refraining from undertaking any actions which may inflict fresh assaults on their dignity.

Finally, if you require any further details in relation to the matters raised in this letter, we would be happy to assist. 


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