Misleading the public, offending the victims: letter to Mail on Sunday


Lobby for Cyprus letter to the Mail on Sunday, in response to an offensive and misleading travel feature that promotes the occupied territories of Cyprus for tourism.

Mr Geordie Greig
The Editor
The Mail on Sunday

Dear Mr Greig

I write with reference to an article published on 20 September 2018 in the Mail on Sunday by Hunter Davies entitled ‘Discovering the transformation of the northern Turkish coast of Cyprus (and why it’s perfect for families)’. I would like to raise some important points for your consideration as the article is still available on your website.

I am writing on behalf of Lobby for Cyprus, a non-party-political human rights NGO based in the UK, formed by Cypriot refugees who are campaigning for their right to return to their homes and properties in a unitary Cypriot state.

May I begin by explaining how disheartened and shocked myself and no doubt thousands of other British Cypriots were, to discover the aforementioned article published in the Mail on Sunday. It was most upsetting to read such an article in your newspaper that grossly distorted the facts of the Turkish invasions of Cyprus and subsequent occupation by the Turkish military. Hunter Davies’ article was littered with historical inaccuracies throughout; misleading the general public and offending the innocent victims of the two Turkish invasions of 1974.

From the very first sentence of the article in question, the author misrepresented current and historical facts pertaining to Cyprus. Indeed, the title in itself is a flagrant distortion of the current state of affairs in Cyprus: ‘Discovering the transformation of the northern Turkish coast of Cyprus’. To be clear, the northern coast of Cyprus is not ‘Turkish’ – it does not belong to Turkey. It is internationally accepted that the area Mr Davies erroneously refers to as ‘the northern Turkish coast’ is territory of the Republic of Cyprus that has been occupied since 1974 by the Turkish military.

Further on in the article, Mr Davies writes: ‘Then they [the Cypriots] started fighting among themselves, with the Turkish community in the north wanting to be separate from the Greek Cypriots in the south.’ This comment is a grotesque falsification of history which is extremely offensive to approximately 170,000 Greeks who were forced to flee their homes in the north when the Turkish army invaded in 1974. Before the Turkish invasion, Cypriots from the majority Greek and minority Turkish communities were distributed throughout the island. It is completely dishonest to profess that before 1974 the Greek community was confined to the south and the Turkish community to the north. Indeed, before the invasion, 80 per cent of the northern territory of the Republic (now occupied by the Turkish military) was inhabited by Cypriots from the Greek community. Mr Davies, who was present on the island as a military correspondent during the 1960s, will be aware of this fact and one cannot interpret this statement as anything other than a deliberate attempt to misinform your newspaper’s readership.

As the article progresses, the author continues to make flagrant bogus assertions claiming that: ‘in 1974, two separate nations were created, which is still the situation.’ This is a scandalous fabrication. As I note above, in 1974 no nations were created, rather, the Republic of Cyprus was invaded by the Turkish military which proceeded to brutally occupy the northern 36.2 per cent of the island nation’s territory and 57 per cent of its coastline. The tone of the particular paragraph I refer to is such that it encourages the reader to believe that in 1974 Cyprus was peacefully separated into two legitimate states – this could not be further from the truth. As a result of the barbaric Turkish invasions thousands of people were either murdered, maimed, raped or ‘disappeared’.

Mr Davies subsequently detailed how the ‘northern Turkish [occupied] coast has now been transformed’; portraying this fact in a positive light. He carefully overlooks the tragic circumstances which led to this transformation; namely, the cultural and ethnic cleansing of the north by Turkey to remove all traces of the former Greek inhabitants. Not content with the expulsion of the now occupied northern area’s Greek population, Turkey has also engineered a programme of demographic change in the occupied areas. Over the past four decades, Turkey has systematically transferred more than a hundred thousand illegal Turkish colonisers to the occupied territories, in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention. In doing so, Turkey has not only attempted to erase any remaining trace of Hellenic identity, but has also sought to diminish the remaining indigenous population of Cyprus’ Turkish community. The occupied area of Cyprus has indeed been ‘transformed’ but not in the way portrayed by Mr Davies.

The author goes on to praise the multitude of ‘new hotels and resorts’ but fails to inform the reader that most of said developments are considered illegal under international law. Indeed, the majority of the land (and buildings) these resorts are built on were illegally stolen from the lawful Greek owners during and after the Turkish invasions. Such properties have been deemed to be illegal under international law and by the European Court of Justice. In allowing Mr Davies to advertise said hotels and resorts the Mail on Sunday is promoting the illegal activities of the Turkish occupiers.

In ‘Discovering the transformation of the northern Turkish coast of Cyprus (and why it’s perfect for families)’, The Mail on Sunday is helping to rewrite the history of Cyprus by refusing to report the facts of the current tragic state of affairs. The Mail on Sunday does injustice to a multitude of UN resolutions which condemn the illegal invasion, occupation and colonisation of the Republic of Cyprus, and I hope that you understand the distress this causes British Cypriots.

The Mail on Sunday proudly boasts its adherence to the ‘Editors’ Code of Practice’ and yet, it would appear that in matters pertaining to Cyprus this code is ignored. You will be aware that the very first clause of the code states: ‘The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.’ As demonstrated above, Mr Davies’ article defies this clause on every level. Given the second clause of the code requires that any misleading or inaccurate information is ‘corrected, promptly and with due prominence’, I assume the Mail on Sunday will uphold this clause.

I also would like to remind the Mail on Sunday of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) Editors’ Code: ‘Clause 1 (Accuracy) prohibits the publication of inaccurate, misleading or distorted material which includes pictures.’

For the avoidance of any further misleading coverage regarding the occupied areas, I include below a few elementary and internationally agreed facts pertaining to Cyprus.
I look forward to your response and subsequent corrections.

Lobby for Cyprus

Facts pertaining to Cyprus

  • In 1974 the Republic of Cyprus was illegally invaded by Turkey, which proceeded to ethnically cleanse and occupy the northern 36.2 of the island and 57 per cent of its coastline.
  • The Republic of Cyprus is the only legitimate and internationally recognised sovereign state in the Island of Cyprus. There is no ‘Greek-Cypriot south’ and the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (‘TRNC’) is a nullity since the UDI relating to the ‘TRNC’ is connected with the unlawful use of force and other egregious violations of norms of general international law, in particular those of a peremptory character.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross, the UNHCR and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus have all indicated that, as a result of the two Turkish invasions of 1974, approximately 170,000 members of the Greek Community (to use the term in the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus) were forcibly displaced from their homes; this constitutes one third of the population.
  • See UN Security Council Resolution 541 and UN Security Council Resolution 550.