Yeraltý Notlarý, 13 Nisan 2004

Sevgül Uludað

 

YES for the ending of an expired conflict…(*)

Sevgul Uludag

Denktash is crying on TV about the Annan Plan… His tears are not for us but for himself: he’s going to lose his `power` backed up by the military throughout the years, if an agreement is signed in Cyprus…He has never shed a tear for us, Cypriots: he never cried when we sent our children abroad, emigrating like immigrant birds to other geographies and not returning… He had once said `The only thing that is Cypriot is the Cypriot donkey… Whoever goes away from Cyprus is a Turk and whoever comes in his place from Turkey is a Turk…` watching the destruction of his community, as we were becoming less and less, on the verge of becoming extinct…

He never shed a tear for those persecuted and killed… He never spent a night without sleep when we tried to survive on this soil with human dignity… As his regime made sure that those who spoke up would be on the `blacklist`, not being able to get a job, sometimes even in the private sector, he never shed a tear for us… He never spent a sleepless night as his team attacked us, created campaigns of misinformation based on mountains of lies to marginalize us and to frighten the community into silence…

He was at the wheel while in other parts of the world leaders were being changed – when he felt he ran the risk of not being re-elected, he brought more and more settlers from Turkey, making them also a hostage to the conflict…

When he realized that his people were turning against him, he started his tours of Anatolia, going and speaking in Turkey and shedding tears in conferences, to have an impact on the public opinion of Turkey, not Cyprus… Because he knows that no matter what he says or does, he can’t win over the Turkish Cypriots anymore… 80 thousand Turkish Cypriots in demonstrations last year shouted first `Denktash, sign or resign`, then when he did not, they had the slogan `Denktash does not represent us…`

That is why his tears are not for us, but for himself, seeing the end of the tunnel, that his days are over, that the world is changing and he has a hard time holding a tight grip of what’s happening around him…

Throughout the years he had had the comfortable support of the US and UK – for if they did not support him, he would not be able to survive so long… When Milosevic was a problem, the `West` knew how to deal with him… When it came to Denktash, they did not… Because he was at that time, serving the interest of a world locked up in the `Cold War`… Denktash lost this international support last year in March at the Hague, when he refused to sign an agreement with Papadopulos… He knows this and he is crying for himself, not for us…As he leads his `NO` campaign, he will go to great lengths – he will use every trick in his old hat but it is a game he cannot win anymore, unless he gets help from Greek Cypriots with a similar mentality …

And in the southern part there is some people with similar mentality: Bishop Nikiforos is praying against the Annan Plan… DIKO has a definite NO, while Papadopoulos is just like Denktash: he does not want the plan…

Everyone is expecting to see what AKEL will do: as I wrote this article, AKEL’s stand was going to be declared after the Paska… It is leaning towards YES but having difficulty in showing it…

Talat’s CTP in the northern part is saying YES as well as YBH (Durduran’s Patriotic Unity Movement), BDH (Akinci’s Peace and Democracy Movement) and CABP (Ali Erel’s Solution and EU Party). Not only these but the 41 NGOs forming `This Country is Ours Platform` is going for a YES…They form the civil society in the northern part of our island who have struggled for peace, democracy and EU membership… They’re the ones who got attacked all these years, trade union leaders being persecuted, harassed and threatened.

Ahmet Barcin, former leader of secondary schools’ trade union KTOEOS was one of them: he got death threats and his car was attacked. Son of a butcher from Bandabuliyo, he spent all his life in struggle: being leader of a big trade union in the vanguard of the struggle for peace and democracy was not an easy job. Denktash’s bunch would go to the trade union headquarters to throw rotten eggs at him and shout slogans… VOLKAN, the newspaper close to the military and Denktash, would print a mountain of lies about him… In 1957 his mother’s brother, that is his uncle was killed in Morphou by some Greek Cypriots and in 1963 his grandfather was taken from his house from Morphou by fanatic Greek Cypriots. Even though his uncle killed and his grandfather still `missing,` he does not keep `hatred` or `vengeance` in his heart – on the contrary, he has been in the forefront of the struggle… Once, one of my friends from Istanbul, Sezai Sarioglu, who was imprisoned for many years for being `progressive` and tortured severely in the prisons of Turkey, said to me, `You can’t expect a revolution from someone whose life is not revolutionary…` Ahmet Barcin’s lifestyle is revolutionary – that’s why he is working for a YES campaign in order to remove the threat of war from this island…

Life hasn’t changed too much concerning the struggle for peace and democracy in the Turkish Cypriot community – in the 50s trade unionists were attacked for defending a common struggle for a common country. Some of them, like Dervis Ali Kavazoglu and Mishaulis were killed. Some of them had to leave Cyprus, not being able to return for many years since they were on the `hit list` of the regime. Today trade unionists like Ahmet Barcin are looking forward to the 24th of April, the day of the referandums in Cyprus in order to be able to make a fresh start for Cyprus…

In the southern part of our island, Bishop of Morphou, Neophytos is like a fresh breeze: he’s talking the language of the contemporary – he’s talking reasonably, reminding us of our humanity…A religious figure should be just that: a spiritual leader, going beyond bargaining about money or land… Someone who brings peace instead of hatred and chauvinism…

These days I’m thinking a lot about all of these and I smile when I think of the Bishop of Morphou: I interviewed him once last year and he told me, `Nationalism is a sin and the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church has committed this sin… Nationalism is a temptation…` He showed me how the church’s traditional `nationalism` was changing – he was young and a young generation of priests were growing up and expressing different ideas about the role of religion. The interview that I made with Neophytos was so powerful and such a fresh breath of air that the regime did not lose time to put it in headlines, threatening to cut off my tongue… Neophytos was breaking down the rule that `All Greeks, all Greek Cypriots, the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church is the same…` He was different and that’s why the regime in the northern part saw a danger in this: for them all Greek Cypriots must be addressed in the third singular tense… Plurality and differences threatens `nationalism` and `chauvinism`…

I am going to vote YES in order to destroy the `sin` of `nationalism` that only brought bloodshed and tears to my country, as Neophytos says… `Nationalism` is a disease – it is painting `masks of the devil` on each other’s faces` and then being afraid of these masks, as my friend Nicos says… I will vote YES in order to remove those `masks` and bring `humanity` to this island…

I am going to vote YES in order to remove the military set-up in the northern part of Cyprus, to stop the persecutions, death threats, ugly campaigns against those who defend peace…

I am going to vote YES in order to remove the `border` between us – the barbed wire, the check-points, the old barrels marking the division… For me the `line` dividing us is a humiliation of our humanity – as though we are animals ready to attack each other and that’s why they have to keep us `separate` and between us soldiers, guns, minefields, barbed wire and barricades…

I am going to vote YES in order not to pass this `heritage` called the `Cyprus conflict` to my son and to our youth… I will vote YES so that our youngsters, either Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot, don’t face each other in a line of confrontation with guns in their hands… I will vote YES to remove the threat of armed conflict on this island, since now there is only a fragile `cease-fire`, not even an agreement about a `cease-fire`…

I will vote YES for a future together – to be able to start from somewhere to build a future together with you… Nothing is permanent so whatever the structure of the joint state we will set up, it will not stay as it is… Life itself will force changes… So I’m not worried about derogations or the functioning because when we are together, free from interference of the military set-ups, we can work things out, like we do within own families…

The Annan Plan is the total sum of our own mistakes, stupidities in our common history: we are getting what we deserve as Cypriots because no one wrote history for us, we wrote it ourselves… If we have learnt anything from our own stupidities as Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, this time we will try to make it work… The Annan Plan does not satisfy me – I think it is separatist and it does not please everyone… But is there justice in any war? Who will give back Barcin, his missing grandfather from Morphou? Who will give Spiros Hadjinikolaou his missing father from Yialousa? Who will give my husband back his teenage years when he was a refugee from Omorphita, living in a room for 11 years with six brothers and sisters and had to become a soldier at the age of 15, spending 5 years in army barracks? Who will give us back our youth days spent in struggle? No one of course will bring `justice` but at least we can make sure that no one on this island, be it Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriot, goes through the same suffering… And that’s why I will vote YES so that my son’s most wonderful years of youth will not be wasted in an expired conflict…

(*) Article published in ALITHIA newspaper on the 11th of April, 2004.

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