Thursday, September 10, 2009

U.S. Helsinki Commission: Cyprus' cultural heritage - hearing debunking

Before, I explored public sources' information about the U.S. Helsinki Commission's report on Cyprus' Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril.(1) Now, I will review the unofficial transcript of the hearing.(2)

I don't want to affirm its truths: I want to debunk its half-truths and lies, and expose its propaganda. Most of all, though, I just want to stop sifting through bullshit propaganda bullshit. I would appeal for more inventive propaganda, but then I would have to spend even more time reading it to be able to debunk it.

Warning: this is a super-loser-length blog post; the soundtrack is the final sigh of my patience, and I think it has more value as a debunking than as a light read, unless you enjoy observing me entering a world of pain.

Stating the obvious, or "genocide: Bad Thing"

Unfortunately, because of absurd, grotesque and demonstrably false accusations of genocide denial, before I begin, I must state the obvious to reassure the uninformed – and the misinformed.

I recognise and condemn the destruction of Greek Cypriot (3) cultural heritage in northern Cyprus, and the ethnic cleansing of the Greek Cypriot community from northern Cyprus.

I recognise and condemn those and other violations of the human rights of the Greek Cypriot community, e.g. rape, murder, and population displacement (e.g. c.f. the European Commission of Human Rights' (1976) report on Cyprus v. Turkey).

In my work, I documented the destruction of Greek Cypriot cultural heritage, e.g. the destruction of Greek Cypriot homes in Rizokarpaso; bizarrely, it was that documentation that elicited the accusation of encouraging genocide.

(I also documented the destruction of an Armenian Genocide mass grave in Kuru in south-eastern Turkey, and debunked its cover-up.)

Nonetheless, the recognition and condemnation of violations of human rights of Greek Cypriots does not require the denial of violations of human rights of Turkish Cypriots (4), or vice versa.

Indeed, the recognition and condemnation of violations of Greek Cypriots' human rights requires precisely the recognition and condemnation of violations of Turkish Cypriots' human rights, and vice versa: first, because human rights are the rights of all humans; and second, because denial distorts history, promotes misunderstanding and distrust, and thus prolongs conflict and injustice.

Sadly, this hearing, and the report, both dodge, downplay and/or deny destruction of Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage; and worse, they misappropriate the very evidence of that ethnic cleansing for its denial; thus, they are reduced to mere propaganda.

Witnesses, or "Apostles"

This hearing was on the day of the publication of the report. So, these testimonies were not evidence the witnesses gave to the Commission for the report, but effectively, evidence the witnesses gave for the Commission, to the public.

(I do not know whether these witnesses also gave evidence to the Commission, but certainly the Commission cited Chotzakoglou's and Jansen's publications in its report.)

The only three witnesses were: Greek archaeologist and art historian Dr. Charalampos G. Chotzakoglou; German art historian Dr. Klaus Gallas; and American journalist Michael Jansen. They were disappointing choices, but they were not surprising ones.

Greek News (2008) reported that Hellenist activists - the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) and the International Coordinating Committee "Justice for Cyprus" (PSEKA) - 'secured' the commission on 'destruction and desecration of Greek Orthodox churches in the occupied area of Cyprus - committed to by the Commission's Chairman, Congressman Alcee Hastings'.

(Hastings was a judge convicted of perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice for bribes; he is now a Florida Democratic Congressman, and the Greek Orthodox vote is an important voting bloc in that battleground state.(5))

Charalampos Chotzakoglou

Charalampos Chotzakoglou is a professor of Byzantine art and archaeology at the Hellenic Open University (in Greece) and the Museum of Kykkos Monastery (in southern Cyprus); he has also taught at the (southern Cypriot) University of Cyprus.

In 2008, Chotzakoglou wrote and the Museum of the Holy Monastery of Kykkos published Religious Monuments in Turkish-Occupied Cyprus: Evidence and Acts of Continuous Destruction.

In the Preface the Metropolitan Bishop of Kykkos and Tylliria, Nikephoros (2008: 11), accused Turkey of 'crimes against humanity' and 'national elimination'; in the Prologue to Documentation of Atrocities, University of Cyprus Professor of Archaeology Demetrios Triantaphyllopoulos (2008: 13) accused Turkey of 'genocide'.

Chotzakoglou (2008: 49) alleged the Turkish occupation regime was 'extinguishing every single Greek trace of the occupied part of Cyprus'; but, according to the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office's (2007: 3) numbers, 25 of 520 (4.81%) Christian buildings in northern Cyprus had been demolished (by 2007).(6)

According to the bicommunal architectural survey, Cyprus Temples, at least 11 of 115 (9.56%) mosques in southern Cyprus had been demolished. (There were 11 destroyed mosques in the 85 published (CCEAA and CCTA, 2005); furthermore, there were other mosques destroyed in northern Cyprus before the island's partition and segregation.)

So, according to Chotzakoglou's criteria, the Greek Cypriot administration was extinguishing every single Turkish Cypriot trace throughout Cyprus; Greek Cypriot paramilitaries and local nationalist extremists destroyed a greater proportion of the Islamic cultural heritage of Cyprus in a shorter period of time.

Yet despite the physical evidence accessible in southern Cyprus, and its documentation by the bicommunal architectural survey, Chotzakoglou (2008: 57) only acknowledged 'damages'. That is inaccurate, and demonstrates his untrustworthiness [the incompleteness of his testimony].

[The Commission chose a specialist on Christian/Greek Cypriot cultural heritage, and used his testimony on his area of expertise - with no expert on Muslim/Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage - to make its half-truth seem professionally/academically approved. That demonstrates the hearing's untrustworthiness.]

Klaus Gallas

In 1990, art historian Klaus Gallas published an article called the Stripping of Art: Northern Cypriot Churches are Plundered in Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin. Making a general point, design journalist and critic Klaus Thomas Edelmann (1991) described Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin as 'a weekly newspaper supplement with no hard news (its slogan: "Colourful entertainment...")'.

Nevertheless, in 2002, the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office republished his article in a glossy bilingual German-and-English edition, Where the Heavens are Plundered. In the article, Gallas inaccurately claimed '[n]o such thing [indiscriminate destruction of Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage] exists in the southern part of the Republic of Cyprus' (2002 [1990]: 6). That is untrue, and demonstrates his untrustworthiness.

Michael Jansen

In 1986, journalist Michael Jansen wrote an article about Cyprus: the Loss of a Cultural Heritage; in 2005, she wrote a book on War and Cultural Heritage: Cyprus After the 1974 Turkish Invasion; since then, she has given speeches (e.g. Jansen, 2006) and written articles promoting the Hellenist nationalist interpretation, including one 'sponsored by the government of the Republic of Cyprus' (Jansen, 2007).

As I explained in a paper on Representations of a Suppressed UNESCO Report in Histories of Cultural Heritage Destruction, Jansen reported false information about the treatment of cultural heritage, and about research into that treatment, grotesquely misrepresenting bicommunal and international sources to defend her dishonest interpretation.

Perhaps worst, in Jansen's book,
She had distorted a condemnation of pre-1974 Greek Cypriot destruction of Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage to make it sound like a condemnation of post-1974 Turkish Cypriot destruction of Greek Cypriot cultural heritage (Hardy, 2009).
These witnesses were massively and shamelessly biased. The U.S. Helsinki Commission's choice to invite these witnesses to testify cannot have been an accident; it reveals a similar commitment to the Hellenist nationalist interpretation, and it does not bode well for the report.

Hearing, or "sounding off"

Abandoned buildings, or forgotten buildings

Beginning the hearing, the moderator, U.S. Helsinki Commission Deputy Chief of Staff Ronald McNamara, mentioned that, at the 1991 OSCE (7) Symposium on the Cultural Heritage,
The OSCE acknowledged the important contribution of religious faiths, institutions and organizations to the cultural heritage and committed themselves to cooperate closely with such groups regarding the preservation of the cultural heritage, paying due attention to monuments and objects of religious origin whose original communities no longer use them or no longer exist in the particular region.

Given its particular applicability to the situation in northern Cyprus, I would repeat that last part of the text: "whose original communities no longer use them or no longer exist in the particular region."
Yet, that is as true of Islamic cultural heritage in southern Cyprus as it is of Christian cultural heritage in northern Cyprus.

McNamara could have said it had "particular applicability to the situation in Cyprus", but not only in northern Cyprus. That allegedly objective exclusion is the same one Greek Cypriot propaganda uses, and the inconsistency in its application is a warning.

Islamic places of worship in the South, or "always look on the bright side of life"

McNamara commented that,
In stark contrast to the situation in the North, which I recently had an opportunity to visit, scores of mosques and other Islamic places of worship are maintained by the Cypriot government in the southern part of the country.
Similarly, Chotzakoglou stated that,
In total contrast [to 'the reality of the situation in the Turkish-occupied area'], the government of the Republic of Cyprus, through the Turkish Cypriot Properties Management Service and the Department of Antiquities repairs and maintains mosques and Muslim places of Worship in the government-controlled area,... allowing the free exercise of their religious services.
That is true - the Greek Cypriot administration does maintain scores (twenties (20s)) of Islamic cultural heritage sites - but as observed before, Greek Cypriot nationalist extremists destroyed at least 11 of the mosques in southern Cyprus.

Again, as observed before, the proportion of southern Cyprus's mosques destroyed (about 10%) was actually twice as high as the proportion of northern Cyprus's churches destroyed (about 5%). It is understandable that McNamara didn't see the mosques that had been razed to the ground, but inexcusable that he presented Greek Cypriot propaganda as fact.

(Sadly, the optimistic assumption would be that Hellenist activists manipulated the U.S. Helsinki Commission; but its selection of Hellenist witnesses suggests the Helsinki Commission acted freely and knowingly.)

Furthermore, the Republic of Cyprus Turkish Cypriot Properties Management Service's "restoration" of Episkopi Mosque involved uncovering Christian frescoes, so according to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the building was 'hardly... suitable' for use as a mosque any more (van der Werff, 1989: 13); so perhaps the Service's work is not the best example of 'allowing [them] the free exercise of their religious services'. The same thing happened in Polis and Klavdia, and possibly elsewhere as well.

Islamic places of worship in the North, or "if life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten"

Chotzakoglou pushed the Archbishopric of Cyprus’s 'repeat[ed]' offer
to fund any needed restoration of Muslim religious places in the North in addition to the funds provided by the government. A mutual reaction regarding the permission of similar restoration of the Christian monuments in the North never came.
But the Republic of Cyprus has not even restored all of the mosques in the South! Politely, it is unsurprising that the Turkish Cypriot administration did not trust or accept the offer, or show good willing about restoration of Christian monuments.

(Even if it had been accepted and effected, it would still have been propaganda, designed to advertise Greek Cypriot generosity and concern with cultural heritage, and to downplay or displace talk of Greek Cypriot destruction of Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage.)

Chotzakoglou went on to say that,
Similarly, the declaration of the European parliament on September 5, 2006, on the obligation of protection and conservation of the religious heritage in the occupied area of Cyprus along with funding amounting to half-a-million euro for that purpose met again with the Turkish refusal.
You don't need to read it, but just in case you want to, to know what I say is true, this is the complete Declaration of the European Parliament on the Protection and Preservation of the Religious Heritage in the Northern Part of Cyprus [5th September 2006]:
The European Parliament,
– having regard to Article 151 of the EC Treaty,
– having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas, according to Article 151 of the EC Treaty, the Community shall promote the cultural heritage of its Member States while respecting their national and regional diversity,
B. whereas since 1974 the government of the Republic of Cyprus has been unable to exercise control over the northern part of Cyprus and to ensure respect for the provisions of Article 151,
C. whereas more than 133 churches, chapels and monasteries that are located in the northern part of Cyprus and have been controlled by the Turkish army since 1974 have been desecrated, 78 churches have been converted into mosques, 28 are used as military depots and hospitals and 13 are used as stockyards, and whereas their ecclesiastical items, including more than 15 000 icons, have been illegally removed and their location remains unknown,
1. Condemns the pillage of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries and the removal of their ecclesiastical items;
2. Calls on the Commission and the Council to take the necessary actions to ensure respect for the Treaty and the protection and restoration of the affected churches to their original Greek Orthodox status;
3. Calls on the Commission and the Council to examine this matter under the relevant chapters of the negotiations with Turkey;
4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission and the Council.
It did not acknowledge the existence of conflict before 1974. It ignored destruction of Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage in southern Cyprus since 1974, and it implicitly denied destruction of Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage in northern Cyprus before 1974.

I do not know whether the European parliamentarians made the Declaration because of religious allegiance, political negotiation, or simple ignorance, but it was historically one-sided, and has become yet another tool of Hellenist propaganda.

Christian places of worship in the North, or "gilding the lily"

Discussing his Kykkos Monastery Museum survey, Chotzakoglou stated that '[a]round 500 churches and religious sites... have been willfully [sic] desecrated, pillaged, looted and destroyed'.

According to the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office, 'around 520 churches, monasteries and chapels... were transformed or destroyed' (ROCPIO, 2007: 3); allegedly,
Mosques 125
Stables, or hay warehouses [barns] 67
Museums, cultural centres, hotels 57
Hostels, restaurants, ammunition warehouses 17
Completely demolished 25
Desecrated 229
I could not think how or why they had grouped hotels with museums (rather than with hostels); but sadly, I suspect it is because, according to the second edition of Miltos Miltiadou's book on the Cyprus Question: A Brief Introduction for the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office, '[o]ne church has been converted into a hotel' (2006: 41; PDF).

The single case doesn't sound as bad as the plural, while the use of 56 churches as museums or cultural centres doesn't sound as bad as the use of 57 churches as museums, cultural centres, or hotels.

(Indeed, Miltiadou's third edition had been revised to state only that '57 [churches] have become museums, cultural centers or hotels' (2008: 52 – emphasis added; PDF).)

I am so bored of propaganda; I no longer find it revealing, or intriguing, or even amusing. I wish they would simply state the truth; after all, it is awful.

So many churches have been desecrated, damaged or destroyed in northern Cyprus, it is depressing. The massive omissions are unnecessary, and the little twists – like the perverse gilding of the lily – are downright bizarre.

McNamara showed genuine interest but equal ignorance:
Of the 20 or so churches that I stopped into randomly in villages and so forth [in northern Cyprus], none of them were intact. Most of them were populated by pigeons, with pigeon droppings that would be unimaginable, actually, and probably quite unhealthy....
The bicommunal architectural team's survey found Kantou Mosque's 'minaret... was inaccessible... because of piles of pigeon droppings'; and I found many other mosques carpeted with bird shit and bodies.

Bigmouth strikes again. Michael Jansen said that,
UNESCO, as I said earlier, suppressed the report, which was written by Jacques Dalibard. This report was 120 pages long and quite detailed.
In her book, Jansen (2005: 27) stated that 'Dalibard's report... ran to one hundred pages including maps and appendices'. To be clear, that isn't a typo, and I wouldn't criticise her for a typo. At best, it is laziness. Similarly, in her book, Jansen (2005: 28) said that the censored report was five pages long, when it was nine.
.... And his report was actually kept under wraps until about two years ago.
On 26th July 2009, I asked the (Greek Cypriot) Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO whether Dalibard’s report was indeed available (and if Jansen's claims are accurate, the Greek Cypriot commission has the greatest vested interest in showing me Dalibard's report); but I got no reply.
UNESCO really did nothing about this situation at all....
As was explained twenty years ago, in the 1989 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe report (which Jansen has read (e.g. c.f. 2005: 48-51)), 'the only way Unesco could in fact intervene is on the condition that it recognise the government in the north, which no United Nations organisation is able to do' (van der Werff, 1989: 5).

Helpfully, the Greek Cypriot position on this is very clear, because then president of the parliament of Cyprus, Alexis Galanos, wrote a letter to the European Parliament Sub-Committee on Architectural and Artistic Heritage of Cyprus, and Jansen (2005: 58) quoted him 'spell[ing it] out':
I would certainly like to believe that the Council of Europe and Assembly members would not wish to go against their own or UN resolutions by offering this recognition ['political recognition of the illegal regime'] either directly or indirectly.
It is upon Greek Cypriot insistence that UNESCO – and the European Parliament Sub-Committee on Architectural and Artistic Heritage of Cyprus – have been forced to do 'nothing... at all'. It is stunning that the Greek Cypriot side have the gall to demand inaction and simultaneously to complain about it.

Then Jansen excelled herself:
I just wanted to mention that there is a Web site which one can consult. It was put up jointly by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot engineers and architects. It's called and it has on it 505 churches and 111 mosques and Muslim sites.
It doesn't: it has 505 Christian sites and 115 Islamic sites.
It gives the state of each one and what is recommended to repair it or replace it or whatever. And it is a very valuable site. It shows a lot.

These people spent quite a lot of time; they have plenty of photographs. And buildings which have been completely destroyed or are in very bad states, there are, of course, no photographs of them.
There are, of course, lots of photographs of them, of buildings in very bad states; there is even a photograph of a completely destroyed building: Kutrafa Mosque. Jansen's errors and misrepresentations are in equal parts remarkable and tiresome.
But it is, as I say, a very valuable source on what exactly has gone on. It needs to be updated, but otherwise, it is a very good effort....
It is incredibly insulting that Jansen so patronisingly promotes the Cyprus Civil Engineers' and Architects' Association and Chamber of Cyprus Turkish Architects' wonderful work, when she both incompetently misstates it, and lazily misrepresents it.


So, whom do these unreliable witnesses hold responsible for the destruction of Greek Cypriot cultural heritage in northern Cyprus since 1974?

Gallas judged that 'art theft in the Turkish-occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus was usually only possible when it was tolerated or happened under the watchful eye of the Turkish military' (8). Indeed, Gallas perceived 'the intention of the Turkish occupying powers: eradication of every cultural reminder of established historical structures on the island'.

Intriguingly, Klaus Gallas's translator noted that
Dr. Gallas would like to say that it is important to him to note that he's not attacking, if I may use that word, the Turkish government, but that it is important to preserve and protect the theft. He believes that nothing could take place without the supervision and eyes of the Turkish military.
(I don’t know what Gallas's translator meant by it being 'important to preserve and protect the theft', but anyway...)

It is interesting and encouraging that Gallas apparently distinguished between the Turkish government and the Turkish military; but it was not enough, because it did not distinguish between the Turkish state (government or military) and the Turkish deep state.

I will say one thing for Klaus Gallas: he seems to be genuinely misinformed and misled; I do not believe Klaus Gallas has knowingly misrepresented sources or history.

Unfortunately, neither Jansen or Chotzakoglou made the kind of careful and crucial distinction that Gallas did (even if Gallas's distinction was still inaccurate).

Chotzakoglou reminded the hearing:
[It was] 35 years since the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus which forcibly separated Greek and Turkish Cypriots along ethnic lines and resulted in the destruction and desecration of Cyprus' religious cultural heritage in the occupied area....
Greek Cypriot paramilitary-initiated violence drove half of the Turkish Cypriot community into enclaves - ghettoes - in 1963-1964. That violence encompassed the desecration, damage and destruction of secular and religious Turkish Cypriot cultural heritage across the island. Evidently, Chotzakoglou didn't remember that.

Chotzakoglou highlighted the necessary 'cooperation and involvement of the Turkish armed forces in the illicit trade [in antiquities]', because some of the plundered churches had been 'under the direct control of the Turkish military'.

Jansen agreed, and noted that 'some were looted by the soldiery soon after the north was taken over'. Discussing Turkish deep state heroin-and-antiquities smuggler Aydın Dikmen, Jansen alleged 'collusion between Dikmen and the military', and even all Turkish authorities, insofar as he was 'arrested and held by the Turkish authorities in northern Cyprus. But as a friend of mine says, his wife turned up with a big bag of money and he was out the next day'.

Bribery is not implausible for Aydın Dikmen (though I have never heard anything about his wife, and am genuinely surprised even Michael Jansen felt comfortable alleging Dikmen's wife had committed a serious crime, in public, on record; I only include her allegation as reportage).

Chotzakoglou, Jansen and Gallas have confused individuals and groups with institutions and states: for example, my local police in Stoke Newington were corrupt and criminal, but neither Hackney council nor the British state was complicit or responsible.

Jansen stated that the looting was 'not only a crime against Cyprus but a crime against humanity', that '[w]hat has happened since Turkey occupied northern Cyprus 35 years ago has been even more dramatic than what took place in Europe ['during World War II']'.

But she did not consider official Greek Cypriot responsibility for the explosion of looting between 1963 and 1974, and falsely claimed that the 'devastation is comprehensive and has taken place in a small area'.

Jansen also, equally falsely claimed that the 'cleansing of religious and historical sites began as soon as Turkish troops set foot in northern Cyprus on July 20, 1974, and continues until today', according the Turkish military a singular and complete responsibility for (if not committing, then enabling or allowing) all cultural crimes in Cyprus.

"Spontaneous" nationalist locals' violence against religious and historical sites may or may not have begun with the tit-for-tat arsons of cemeteries in Vasileia in 1955 (CO 926/184, cited in Asmussen, 2001: 225n74); but paramilitaries' systematic violence had certainly begun by the time of the EOKA attack on Morphou Mosque in 1958 (Georgiades, 2008), and the Akritas Organisation's instigated Akritas-TMT warfare from 1963/1964 onwards.

It was not simply inaccurate to say that 'Turkey is directly responsible for whatever takes place in northern Cyprus', inasmuch as it is the country in control of the territory; it was inaccurate in a complicated way. The Turkish state does have control over the territory, but it does not have control over the Turkish deep state. Likewise, the Italian state is responsible for what happens within Italy, but it is not responsible for what the mafia do within Italy.

Jansen rightly observed that
The cultural cleansing of the area could have been averted or curbed if Ankara had honored its signature on the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of cultural heritage during war and occupation. But Turkey did not meet its commitments....
The Republic of Cyprus, however, did not even sign the 1954 Hague Convention until 9th September 1964, tellingly, just four weeks after Turkish military intervention ended the Greek Cypriot paramilitaries' displacement of Turkish Cypriots and destruction of their villages and mosques.

Jansen was correct that the Republic of Turkey has had a responsibility to prevent looting and destruction in northern Cyprus since 1974; but the Republic of Cyprus had a responsibility to prevent looting and destruction across Cyprus between 1960 and 1974, and has had the same responsibility in southern Cyprus since 1974.

Jansen accurately relayed that the 1989 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) mission to Cyprus reported that 'most of the damage has occurred in the North and is the result of looting evidently linked with a highly professional international market in illegally exported art'.

In the same paragraph as the one Jansen paraphrased, PACE Senator Ymenus van der Werff (1989: 11) also reported that 'the international art market is now well aware of the existence of a well-funded market in the south for items coming from the north'; but Jansen didn't consider that important enough to mention it.
.... Turkey also collaborated in the destruction of the North's dominant Christian culture by allowing churches to collapse due to neglect or to be looted and to be used as cinemas, restaurants, store houses and goat pens....
Contrarily, the Republic of Cyprus allows Turkish Cypriot homes as well as mosques to collapse due to neglect or to be looted and to be used as store houses and goat pens.

Responding to this vile propaganda has reduced me to rat-a-tat, tit-for-tat replies; but this unedifying display is all that can be done when the level of debate is so low. Better academic and ethical standards are necessary for a community conversation that can establish truth and enable reconciliation and coexistence; otherwise, these "professionals" will continue to harm even those they pretend to defend.

Postscript, or "... you’re still reading!?"

I've included three final footnotes of less important but interesting asides, or revealing comments: first, about the Christian identity (and Islamic history) of Cyprus (9), second, about communal and religious freedom in Cypriot society (10); and third, about mosques' management in southern Cyprus (11).
  1. The United States Helsinki Commission is also known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).
  2. The U.S. Law Library of Congress's report was on Cyprus: Destruction of Cultural Property in the Northern Part of Cyprus and Violations of International Law.

    It analysed the cultural property law applicable to northern Cyprus, 'especially the legal consequences of the destruction and pillage of Cyprus' religious and cultural property by "TRNC [the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus]"' (USLLC, 2009: 3).

    Later, I will study that report, but only for its cultural heritage claims, not for its legal ones. (I may review its legal claims too, but they are different from the historical and ethical cultural heritage claims. Especially because there are so many legal claims, I may try to study them all together.)

    U.S. Helsinki Commission Deputy Chief of Staff Ronald McNamara made a summary report of the briefing, though I'm not sure of the proper name of the publication. (McNamara, R J. 2009: "Scars of 1974 invasion abound as leaders seek to reunite Cyprus". Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe Reports, Volume 41, Number 7. Available at:
  3. The "Greek Cypriot" community includes Greek Cypriots, Armenian Cypriots, Latin Cypriots and Maronite Cypriots.
  4. The "Turkish Cypriot" community includes Turkish Cypriots, Gypsy Cypriots/Roma Cypriots and Linobambakoi Cypriots.
  5. Apparently, Hastings didn't agree to the Turkish Coalition of America's reactive request for a new commission on the treatment of the Turkish minority in Greece; nevertheless, Hastings has stated that he has 'support[ed] Turkish initiatives in Congress' and 'look[ed] forward to working with TCA'.

    In 1996, before Hastings' time, the Helsinki Commission had held a briefing on the Turkish minority in Western Thrace; however, notably, its moderator was a Human Rights Watch researcher, and its witnesses were two ethnic Turks and two ethnic Greeks.

    Worryingly, the (Hellenist) Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) presented evidence that the TCA is a Turkish deep state organization.
  6. More peculiarly and problematically, Chotzakoglou (2008: 28) said that the Museum of the Monastery of Kykkos recorded more than 550 Christian buildings in northern Cyprus.
  7. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
  8. Gallas noted,
    In this context, there is also a mystery concerning the export license by the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for the 6th century Golden Mosaics of the Panagia [Kanakaria] Church on the Karpas Peninsula, which was signed at the time by ['right-hand man' of Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş] Osman Orek....

    Later on, Orek declared the documents to have been a forgery....
    Similarly, in his earlier article, Gallas (2002 [1990]: 4) said that the Kanakaria Mosaics' '"TRNC" export licence.... was signed by Osman Orek.... But Orek described the document as forged'. So, Gallas was clear it was an official licence, and Orek had signed it; but the New York Times' William Honan (1989) called it 'Dikmen's "export document"' (note the quotation marks), and said that Orek had 'purportedly' signed, but had 'denied' signing.
  9. Jansen noted that,
    While the focus of this meeting is on the island's religious heritage, this is rooted in 12,000 years of history which came before St. Paul and St. Barnabas brought Christianity to Cyprus.
    She neglected to mention that an Islamic tomb was built in Cyprus less than thirty years after the birth of Islam; now it has an eighteenth-century shrine and a nineteenth-century lodge, Hala Sultan Tekke.

    The tomb was built for Mohammed's wet nurse, Umm Haram, who probably died in Cyprus in 647 or 649 C.E. The Republic of Cyprus Department of Antiquities listed it as 'among the most important holy places of Islam', and medievalist Gwynneth der Parthog (1995: 222-223) judged the tomb the third most important site.

    There were also 'several mosques' in Nicosia in the Seventh Century, but most were 'dismantled or destroyed' when their founding Arab conquerors left (Peterson, 1999: 58), and there were other pre-Ottoman mosques (Yıldız, 2006: 188), though none survives now. So Cyprus had a place in the early history of Islam as well as in the early history of Christianity.
  10. Chotzakoglou justly complained that non-Muslims in northern Cyprus 'do not have... the rights to have free religious elections, [or] ordination of priests', and Jansen claimed that 'in the government-controlled areas,... there is complete freedom of religion for everyone'.

    Yet they seemed strange statements, because, according to Cypriot Maronites, there was a 'conspiracy' to appoint a Lebanese archbishop, between the Synod of Maronite Bishops in Lebanon and the Maronite Cypriots' governmental representative Antonis Hajiroussos.

    The complaint seemed even stranger because the Greek Cypriot administration had rejected the Kormakitis Maronites' elected mukhtar in 2005.
  11. Michael Jansen 'consulted someone who is connected with the mosque in Nicosia' and asked, 'what is the situation there?'
    He said there are three congregations in Cyprus in established mosques [in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol], which have been restored and repaired, and there is a fourth congregation in Paphos....

    And most of the people who are in the congregations are people who came to Cyprus in the past decade, two decades. They are of Arab origin or Bangladeshi origin or Pakistani origin. Apparently, Turkish Cypriots don't attend the mosques. So the mosques are maintained. The government of Cyprus provides a salary for the imam and the congregations take up collections to pay the water bill, the electricity bill and for small repairs. And that is the situation on the two sides; it's quite different.
    [I have spoken with someone connected with the mosque too, and with members of the congregation as well, and I was told that Libya contributed money for the mosque(s), because Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had 'too much money'. So, very different indeed, but unsurprisingly, not at all in the way Jansen claimed.]
Bibliography, or if you're somehow not bored yet, you soon will be

Asmussen, J. 2001: 'Wir waren wie Brüder': Zusammenleben und Konfliktentstehung in ethnisch gemischten Dörfern auf Zypern ['We were like brothers': Coexistence and the emergence of conflict in ethnically mixed villages in Cyprus]. Hamburg: Lit-Verlag.

CCEAA and CCTA (Cyprus Civil Engineers' and Architects' Association and Chamber of Cyprus Turkish Architects). 2005: "List and Evaluation of Greek and Turkish Cyprus Religious Buildings Built Before 1974". Cyprus Temples, 23rd June. Available at: [last accessed: 1st March 2009]

Chotzakoglou, C G. 2008: Religious monuments in Turkish-occupied Cyprus: Evidence and acts of continuous destruction. Lefkosia: Museum of the Holy Monastery of Kykkos.

Der Parthog, G. 1995: Byzantine and Medieval Cyprus: A Guide to the Monuments. London: Interworld Publications.

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[I corrected the tone of one line on 6th December 2010.]

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