NEWS ARCHIVENOVEMBER 2014: MEETING WITH THE CYPRIOT COMMISSIONER FOR EXPATRIATE ISSUES AND HUMAN RIGHTS MR F. FOTIOU
On Wednesday, October 29, the President and members of our Organisation met with Mr. Fotis Fotiou Cypriot Commissioner for expatriate issues and Human Rights, at his invitation. The meeting took place at the High Commission in London. Also present were the High Commissioner Mr. E. Evriviades and Consul General Mr. C. Georgiou.
It was a very useful and productive meeting in which Mr. Photiou briefed the Committee on the latest developments concerning the problem of Missing and how seriously he, the government and other political forces in Cyprus face. Also analised detailed plans regarding promoting a solution to the problem, engaging in all matters not only those directly involved but also specialists who can give advice and recommendations.
In the discussion that followed the President and members of the Committee explained the actions taken by ORMC(UK) in Great Britain and Europe in general, and put forward the concerns and ideas of ORMC (UK) on the way forward on the issue of missing persons. That, for example, to achieve more we must act collectively on a well thought out strategic plan of action. Mr Photiou was very receptive and showed that he shares the same concerns. He promised that not only our organisation will be fully informed on a regular basis but will also be called to participate and / or to express our own concerns and suggestions at joint meetings on the issue of the missing.
40 years on - the rally at Trafalgar Square, Sunday 13th July 2014
See all photos here
Our lobbying outside the House of Commons on Tuesday 8th July 2014
See all photos here
European Court of Human Rights rules Turkey must pay Cyprus €90 million damages
The breakdown of the payments amounted to €30m in relation to non-pecuniary damage suffered by the relatives of persons who became missing during Turkey’s invasion, the vast majority of whose fates are still unknown. A further €60m are to be paid in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents of the Karpasia peninsula.
The families of 1456 missing should each receive €20,000 if and when Turkey pays.
The distribution of the funds among the appropriate victims within each of the aforementioned categories of damages is to be made by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, under the supervision of Cyprus's Committee of Ministers.
In reporting its findings, the ECHR confirmed that the decision, made by the Court's Grand Chamber, in the case of Cyprus v. Turkey, was both final and decided by a majority.
Using the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia as an example, Ms Bomberger illustrated how the ICMP helped the Balkan states to re -establish the rule of law. The United Nations Development Programme helped to excavate sites. Forensic archaeologists, brought in from abroad conducted examinations. Driven by the needs of the people, a court system was established. A new model of transparent sharing of information grew. Technical problems were overcome due to the existence of political will.
In July 2012, the CMP signed an agreement with the ICMP, confirming that the genetic laboratories in Sarajevo will take over initial DNA processing. The CMP labs in Nicosia will conduct the final cross checks. Ms Bomberger confirmed that the ICMP’s current involvement with the Cyprus Missing is restricted to DNA matching alone. “The scientific initiative is a good start, but in order for more to be done, the Commission must be invited in by the Cypriot authorities”.
So far the ICMP have conducted 1351Skeletal elements (bone samples) transferred to the ICMP Laboratory for DNA analysis.
1163 Bone samples have been processed by the ICMP.
524 Complete matching and bone to bone association reports have been sent by the ICMP.
Mr Neokleous underlined the unique circumstances of the Missing of Cyprus, the way in which they disappeared after just three weeks of conflict. And, the forty year struggle for archival information that should have been made available under the terms of the Geneva Convention. Yet, relatives are continuously denied these vital facts by a ruthless and intransigent state.
Both Mr Neokleous and Mr Kouvaros thanked Ms Bomberger for her interest in the ORMC, and for taking the trouble to meet with them during her recent stay in London. They expressed a warm wish to exchange information in the months to come.
ORMC meets Matthew Offord MP, chairman of APPG – 8 August 2013
The delegates presented to Mr Offord a short historical perspective, including the latest developments. They expressed satisfaction at the apparently more positive nature of recent UK stance on the issue, by pointing out that hitherto the stance of successive UK governments especially during the period of UK chairmanship of the Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, was more preoccupied with performing a balancing act and thereby helping to maintain the unacceptable status quo, rather than facilitating the pursuit of tangible actions which could help resolve this purely humanitarian issue.
He listened sympathetically to all the points put to him and stressed that we “..cannot get closure until we know where every missing person is…”. “..It is not acceptable…” he reiterated, for attitudes to remain as they are and he wants to see more action.
The committee members cautioned against complacency in the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Europe Ministers especially in the face of a very skilfully composed memorandum by the Turkish authorities. It was pointed out to him that the committee of relatives are analysing the Turkish document and are in the process of preparing and submitting their own response and version, regarding the latest developments.
The committee of relatives of the missing are very pleased to note that Mr Offord will be trying to arrange a meeting between us and the Minister for European Affairs David Lidington MP. Matthew Offord will also table parliamentary questions on what information the British government has and apply pressure on it to become more proactive on the issue and in their dealings with Turkey.
GENERAL MEETING: Our General meeting took place on Saturday 13th April 2013 at the Cypriot Community Centre from 18.30 hours. Reports were given by the outgoing President, G. Secretary and Treasurer. The new committee was then elected and immediately afterwards the posts were allocated as follows:-
President - Neoklis Neokleous, V. President - Tony Theodorou,
G. Secretary - Minas Mina, Asst G. Secretary - Avraam Christou,
Treasurer - Kyriacos Paschalis, Public Relations - Ioannis Kouvaros,
E. Secretary - Costas Paul.
Members: Costas & Georgia Antoniou, Anastasia Chrysanthou, Theoris Theodoulou, Niki Loizou,
Campaign and Fund Raising Committee: Xenia Chambou, Maria Kashis, Niki Ioakim, Lella Markou-Theodorou, Gokay Ucar and Niki Hadjoullis.
Research: Avgi & Kenteas Yiannaki
STRASBOURG, COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS:
The meeting of the Committee of Ministers took place between the 5th and 7th March 2013. The issue of the missing was again discussed and it was demanded that Turkey must allow complete freedom to the CMP to so called “military zones”. The first that has been allowed must be the beginning and more must be forthcoming. It is in the interests of Turkey to allow this. Turkey was also castigated for not yet paying the money the European Court of Human Rights allotted to the relatives in the “Varnava and Others” case.
On 12th December 2012 the European Council in Strasbourg approved the 2013 EU budget. At the same time it also approved, for the sixth year running, the sum of 3,000,000 Euros to support the work of the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) and that of the Protection of the Cultural Heritage, after an amendment by Euro MP I. Kasoulides.
Our General meeting will take place on Saturday 13th April 2013 at the Cypriot Community Centre, Earlham Grove, London N22, from 18.30. All members are urged to attend so that all together we can decide what future actions are to be taken by ORMC (UK).
The new committee will also be elected and any members who wish to put their names forward for election must send their nomination forms to reach the office by 6th April 2013. Nomination forms are available from the office by e-mail or by post. Please e-mail or call for yours if you are interested in being elected and serving in the next ORMC (UK) Committee.
BOSNIAN LABORATORY LATEST: 29th OCTOBER 2012.
The latest news about Identifications is that we are still awaiting the results from the Bosnian laboratory. It is expected that some identifications will arrive from Bosnia in the next few days and then these have to be doubled checked by the scientists in Cyprus before the relatives are informed. As this is a new procedure it will take some time to start running smoothly and hopefully the results will be forthcoming much quicker than before.
STRASBOURG VISIT: Our President Neoklis Neokleous, with Committee member John Kouvaros travelled to Strasbourg on Tuesday 11th September and met with the Cyprus delegation of Nicos Sergides and Nicos Theodosiou, where meetings were held with officials from the Council of Europe and with Permanent Representatives of member- states as well as MEPs. At these meetings our delegations stressed the need for Turkey to abide by the decision of 6th June 2012 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as regards the issue of our Missing. It was pointed out that since the next meeting of the Council, where the issue will again be discussed, has been postponed to December 2012, this gives ample time for Turkey to respond to the two specific points referred to in para 4 of the decision as regards to her obligation to allow the CMP access to so called “military areas” in the occupied part of the island.
The response in all the meetings was very positive. The general feeling from our delegations was that there is a general wish and demand that Turkey takes the necessary steps towards complying with the Council’s decision and the member-states will insist that this happens.
We will await the December meeting to see whether Turkey complies and what the Council will do if she does not.
At the General Meeting of Saturday 13th March 2010 the new Committee was elected and is as follows:
President - Neoklis Neokleous,
V. President - Tony Theodorou,
G. Secretary - Minas Mina,
Asst G. Secretary - Avraam Christou,
Treasurer - Kyriacos Paschalis,
Public Relations - Ioannis Kouvaros,
E. Secretary - Costas Paul.
Members: Xenia Chambou, Anastasia Chrysanthou, Maria Kashis, Niki Hadjoullis.
Campaign and Fund Raising Committee: Costas Antoniou, Lella Markou-Theodorou, Georgia Antoniou, Niki Ioakim, Niki Loizou and Gokay Ucar.
A GLOBAL RESPONSE
December 2013 - Following the Turkish memorandum to the Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, we posted the following response - please view full letter here.
The Director General,
Directorate General for Human Rights and the Rule of Law,
Secretariat of the Council of Europe,
Dear Mr Director General,
We would be very grateful if you could please consider our Organisation’s response to the Deputies’ Decision during their 1164th meeting (6th March 2013), under the general item “Cases against Turkey”, and specifically on “Concerning questions regarding missing persons”. We would very much appreciate it if our response is shared with the Council of Europe Deputies to the DH Committee.
Our Organisation of Relatives of Missing Cypriots (ORMC) UK, is the representative organisation of British relatives of Cypriots who are missing since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus of 1974. We have been campaigning for nearly four decades for a just resolution to this humanitarian issue. Our sufferings, together with our expectations and demands for respect and restoration of our human rights, are exactly the same as for all the relatives affected by this problem.
We have taken the decision to write because we are very gravely concerned that, despite of the nearly 40 years that have passed since the creation of our problem; the many UN resolutions; the ECHR court cases and the Decisions of the Deputies, there does not appear to be a solution in sight, soon.
Strasbourg, June 8 2011 (CNA) --- The European Parliament adopted today in Strasbourg a Written Declaration fully endorsing the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus.
The Declaration, which was an initiative by MEPs Marina Yiannakoudakis (ECR, UK), Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg Lidia (S&D, Poland), Francoise Grossetete (EPP, France), Charles Tannock (ECR, UK) and Cecilia Wikstrom (ALDE, Sweden), was signed by 386 MEPs and will be announced tomorrow during the last day of the Parliament's June Plenary in Strasbourg. The EP fully endorses the work of the CMP and recognises its post-conflict role in promoting truth, remembrance and reconciliation in Cyprus. At the same time the European Parliament calls on the European Commission to continue to allocate sufficient resources to the CMP to enable it to fulfill its important mandate and calls on the governments of Turkey and Cyprus to continue to support the CMP's work, to redouble efforts to account for those individuals still listed as missing and to ensure that all information that could facilitate the mission of the CMP is made freely available to it. ''It is crucial that we continue to support the Committee on Missing Persons which has done so much excellent work to find out what has happened to missing persons in Cyprus'' Cypriot origin British MEP Marina Yiannakoudakis stated to CNA, indicating that as many relatives and friends of these missing people are now reaching later stages of life, ''we must act with urgency to provide them with answers to decade old tantalizing questions''. The British MEP expressed her gratitude to all the MEPs who backed this Declaration and indicated that the initiative itself is ''a good example of how the EU can actually help achieve tangible benefits for its citizens, not least for approximately 40.000 of Greek and Turkish Cypriots''. The Declaration, together with the names of the signatories, will be forwarded by EP President Jerzy Buzek, to the Council, the Commission, the Parliaments of the Member States and the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. As a result of the invasion, 1619 Greek-Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in the battlefield.
Among them, however, were many civilians, women and children, arrested by the Turkish invasion troops and Turkish-Cypriot paramilitary groups, within the area controlled by the Turkish army after the end of hostilities and far away from the battlefield. Many of those missing were last seen alive in the hands of the Turkish military. A further 41 more cases of Greek Cypriot missing persons have been recently added. These cases concern the period between 1963-1964, when inter-communal fighting broke out but none of them has been identified yet. The number of Turkish Cypriot missing since 1974 and 1963/64 stands at 503. According to figures released, 270 families from both communities have been notified about the discovery and identification of the remains of their loved ones. By early November 2010, a total of 263 remains, 209 belonging to Greek Cypriots and 54 to Turkish Cypriots have been unearthed and identified since 2007. In his latest report on the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus, the UN Secretary General reported that ''complete access to military areas in the north for the purposes of exhumations remains crucial. I urge the Turkish Forces to adopt a more forthcoming approach, given the humanitarian dimension of the issue''. CNA/EMA/MM/2011 ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY 08/06/2011
Written declaration on the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus
The European Parliament,
– having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. Whereas during the 1963-1964 intercommunal fighting, and thereafter with the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, around 2000 individuals from both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities were reported as missing,
B. whereas the whereabouts and fate of many of these individuals are still unknown,
C. whereas the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), which is supported financially by the United Nations, the European Commission and other donors, works to establish the fate of those reported missing,
1. Fully endorses the work of the CMP and recognises its post-conflict role in promoting truth, remembrance and reconciliation in Cyprus;
2. Calls on the European Commission to continue to allocate sufficient resources to the CMP to enable it to fulfil its important mandate;
3. Calls on the Governments of Turkey and Cyprus to continue to support the CMP's work, to redouble efforts to account for those individuals still listed as missing and to ensure that all information that could facilitate the mission of the CMP is made freely available to it;
4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments of the Member States and the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus.
SEE NEWS ARCHIVES regarding case against Turkey at European Court of Human Rights in November 2008
The European Commission of Human Rights has examined the issue of the missing persons of the Turkish invasion and found (in 1976, 1983 and 1999) that Turkey violated fundamental articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. On 8 September 1999, the European Commission established that article 2 of the Convention, referring to the right to life, was violated. It had also concluded, unanimously, that there has been a continuing violation of the right to liberty and security because Turkey did not carry out an effective investigation into the fate of missing Greek Cypriot persons. The Commission further concluded unanimously that Turkey had violated the human rights of the relatives of the missing persons.
On 10 May 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had violated the right to life and the right to personal freedom of the missing persons. Turkey was found guilty of persistently denying an adequate investigation into the fate of missing persons, in respect of whom there was an arguable claim that they were in Turkish custody at the time of their disappearance. Ankara was also found guilty of violating the rights of the relatives of missing persons because of her failure to inform them about the fate of their loved ones.
The United Nations has adopted six resolutions for the missing persons of Cyprus, asking for the early resolution of this problem. It has also set up the Missing Persons Committee (CMP) to investigate the fate of missing persons.
Global Support to the work of the CMP The countries which have so far contributed funds for the work of the CMP: Cyprus (including Turkish Cypriots), Australia, Ireland, Greece, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, Germany, US. European Commission is so far the biggest contributor with 1.5m euros in 2008 and a commitment for a further 2 million euros in 2009.
In October 1994, the US Senate unanimously adopted an Act for the ascertainment of the fate of five US citizens missing since the Turkish invasion. In the investigation that followed the remains of one US citizen’s were discovered in January 1998 in the occupied part of Cyprus. His remains were sent to the US for DNA testing, identification and the return of his body to his family for burial. The other four US-citizens are still missing.
Proposal by Amnesty International (AI) concerning the Cypriot Missing Persons
In August 1996, Amnesty International submitted to the United Nations a proposal to establish an effective commission of inquiry to investigate disappearances, missing persons, and deliberate and arbitrary killings in Cyprus. Furthermore, AI recommended that the parties participating in this commission should ensure that those responsible for these crimes are brought to justice, and that the victims or relatives are fairly and adequately compensated.
LEGAL ARTICLES AND CASES
Cyprus v. Turkey (Articles 2: right to life, Article 5: right to liberty and security and Article 3: prohibition of torture)
In the judgment of the ECHR Cyprus v. Turkey (10.5.2001) the Court examined the obligation of Turkey to protect the right to life under Article 2 of the Convention, read in conjunction with the State’s general duty under Article 1 to “secure to everyone within [its] jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in [the] Convention”. As the Court stated, this “requires by implication that there should be some form of effective official investigation when individuals have been killed as a result of the use of force by agents of the State...”.
“The Court cannot but note that the authorities of the respondent State have never undertaken any investigation into the claims made by the relatives of the missing persons that the latter had disappeared after being detained in circumstances in which there was real cause to fear for their welfare... No attempt was made to identify the names of the persons who were reportedly released from Turkish custody into the hands of Turkish-Cypriot paramilitaries or to inquire into the whereabouts of the places where the bodies were disposed of. It does not appear either that any official inquiry was made into the claim that Greek-Cypriot prisoners were transferred to Turkey.
The Court concludes that there has been a continuing violation of Article 2 on account of the failure of the authorities of the respondent State to conduct an effective investigation aimed at clarifying the whereabouts and fate of Greek-Cypriot missing persons who disappeared in life-threatening circumstances. “
“The Court stresses at the outset that the unacknowledged detention of an individual is a complete negation of the guarantees of liberty and security of the person contained in Article 5 of the Convention and a most grave violation of that Article. Having assumed control over a given individual, it is incumbent on the authorities to account for his or her whereabouts. It is for this reason that Article 5 must be seen as requiring the authorities to take effective measures to safeguard against the risk of disappearance and to conduct a prompt and effective investigation into an arguable claim that a person has been taken into custody and has not been seen since...”
The Court refers to the irrefutable evidence that Greek Cypriots were held by Turkish or Turkish-Cypriot forces. There is no indication of any records having been kept of either the identities of those detained or the dates or location of their detention. From a humanitarian point of view, this failing cannot be excused with reference either to the fighting which took place at the relevant time or to the overall confused and tense state of affairs. Seen in terms of Article 5 of the Convention, the absence of such information has made it impossible to allay the concerns of the relatives of the missing persons about the latter’s fate. Notwithstanding the impossibility of naming those who were taken into custody, the respondent State should have made other inquiries with a view to accounting for the disappearances. As noted earlier, there has been no official reaction to new evidence that Greek-Cypriot missing persons were taken into Turkish custody.
The Court has addressed this allegation from the angle of the procedural requirements of Article 5 of the Convention and the obligations devolving on the respondent State as a Contracting Party to the Convention. The Court reiterated that those obligations cannot be discharged with reference to the nature of the CMP’s investigation.
The Court concluded that… …there has been a continuing violation of Article 5 of the Convention by virtue of the failure of the authorities of the respondent State to conduct an effective investigation into the whereabouts and fate of the missing Greek-Cypriot persons in respect of whom there is an arguable claim that they were in custody at the time they disappeared.
The Court observes that the Turkish authorities have failed to undertake any investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the missing persons. In the absence of any information about their fate, the relatives of persons who went missing during the events of July and August 1974 were condemned to live in a prolonged state of acute anxiety which cannot be said to have been erased with the passage of time. The Court does not consider, in the circumstances of this case, that the fact that certain relatives may not have actually witnessed the detention of family members or complained about such to the authorities of the respondent State deprives them of victim status under Article 3. It recalls that the military operation resulted in a considerable loss of life, large-scale arrests and detentions and enforced separation of families. The overall context must still be vivid in the minds of the relatives of persons whose fate has never been accounted for by the authorities. They endure the agony of not knowing whether family members were killed in the conflict or are still in detention or, if detained, have since died. The fact that a very substantial number of Greek Cypriots had to seek refuge in the south coupled with the continuing division of Cyprus must be considered to constitute very serious obstacles to their quest for information. The provision of such information is the responsibility of the authorities of the respondent State. This responsibility has not been discharged. For the Court, the silence of the authorities of the respondent State in the face of the real concerns of the relatives of the missing persons attains a level of severity which can only be categorised as inhuman treatment within the meaning of Article 3.
Varnava and others v. Turkey
Irrespective of the reactivation of the CMP and while fully acknowledging its importance, the ECHR in the abovementioned decision (18.9.2009) upheld the findings of the interstate judgment, as concerns the limitations of the CMP and the continuous responsibility of Turkey to take the necessary steps towards effective investigations.
As the Court acknowledged in its judgment, … “it appears that on identification of remains the procedure is to issue a medical certificate of death, which in brief terms indicates the injuries noted as causing death… …There is however no report analysing the circumstances or even the dating of death. Nor have any investigative measures been taken to locate or question any witnesses in the area who could give information as to how Savvas Hadjipanteli and the others found with him in the mass grave came to meet their end and at whose hands. Thus, even though the location of the body of Savvas Hadjipanteli has been established it cannot be said, putting supposition and speculation aside, that any clear light has been shed as to how he met his fate.
The Court's case-law on the ambit of effective investigations is unambiguous. The essential purpose of such investigation is to secure the effective implementation of the domestic laws which protect the right to life and, in those cases involving State agents or bodies, to ensure their accountability for deaths occurring under their responsibility. Even where there may be obstacles which prevent progress in an investigation in a particular situation, a prompt response by the authorities is vital in maintaining public confidence in their adherence to the rule of law and in preventing any appearance of collusion in or tolerance of unlawful acts.
The Court found no indication that the CMP is going beyond its limited terms of reference to play any role in determining the facts surrounding the deaths of the missing persons who have been identified or in collecting or assessing evidence with a view to holding any perpetrators of unlawful violence to account in a criminal prosecution.
By way of example, the Court recalled that in the context of Northern Ireland the authorities have provided for investigative bodies (variously, the Serious Crimes Review Team and Historical Enquiry Team) to review the files on past sectarian murders and unsolved killings and to assess the availability of any new evidence and the feasibility of further investigative measures… …It cannot therefore be said that there is nothing further that could be done.
The Court concluded that there has been a continuing violation of Article 2 on account of the failure of the respondent State to provide for an effective investigation aimed at clarifying the fate of the nine men who went missing in 1974.
As regards the particular burden on the relatives of missing persons who are kept in ignorance of the fate of their loved ones and suffer the anguish of uncertainty, the Court recognized once again that the situation of the relatives discloses inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention. Hence, the Court found no basis on which it could differ from the findings of the interstate in the present case. “The length of time over which the ordeal of the relatives has been dragged out and the attitude of official indifference in face of their acute anxiety to know the fate of their close family members discloses a situation attaining the requisite level of severity. There has, accordingly, been a breach of Article 3 in respect of the applicants.”
MEETING WITH MPs IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
On Wednesday 6th July 2011 from 4.00pm in room 17 we have arranged with the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) for Cyprus, to have a meeting with a number of MPs to discuss and put forward our demands for our British Government to act upon. It is important that we have as many of our members as possible present at this meeting. So please mark this date in your diaries and call the office if you need any details. We cannot but stressed the importance of such meetings in the hope that something is done to force Turkey to give all the information it has on our missing to the CMP.
WE MUST BE THERE IN FORCE TO SHOW OUR COMMITMENT AND RESOLVE. WE NEED TO FIND OUR MISSING NOW!
37 YEARS OF WAITING IS FAR TOO LONG!
LATEST: MEETING WITH DAVID BURROWES MP On Saturday 5th February 2011, committee members had a meeting with MP and Chairman of APPG for Cyprus David Burrowes. The meeting was very productive and we discussed plans for taking the issue of our Missing further. The need for pressure to be applied on Turkey to release all the information it has on our Missing and also to allow exhumations in military areas were in the forefront of our discussions. We also expressed our worry at the amount of time it takes to carry out the identifications. The MP was very understanding and will take all issues discussed forward and put them to the Foreign Office and the CMP respectively. We thanked the MP for his interest and all his hard work for our cause.
MEETING WITH THERESA VILLIERS MP. On Friday 12th November 2010, representatives of ORMC (UK) met with MP Theresa Villiers. A fruitful discussion took place and we put to the Minister our concerns about:
a) The Turkish Military not as yet allowing excavations in military areas.
b) The continuous refusal of the Turkish authorities to give the information it has about our Missing and that Turkey has not complied with the ECHR judgements against her.
c) The Council of Europe, the EU including the British Government do not put enough pressure on Turkey to abide and
d) The delays that occur in identifying the remains.
The Minister has promised to take these matters up and pass them on to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and advise us.
We thanked the Minister for her continuous support and interest in the plight of our Missing.
LOBBY OUTSIDE THE HOUSE. On Tuesday 6th July 10, as every year, we demonstrated in Parliament Square. Our picket was attended by MPs Theresa Villiers, David Burrowes, Andy Love as well as members from our community and officials from various political parties and organisations. Leaflets were distributed.
After the picketing we moved into the house where newly elected and re-elected MPs spoke and promised to work even harder for a solution to the issue of the Missing.
RALLY FOR CYPRUS. On Sunday 18th July we participated, like every year, in the rally from Belgravia Square to Trafalgar Square. We walked behind our banner carrying photos of our Missing and demanding an end to this inhuman treatment by Turkey. (Photo above from the rally walking through Central London).
MEETING WITH OFFICIALS OF THE FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE:
On Tuesday 19th January 2010, a five-member delegation of ORMC (UK) Committee met at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), with the leaders of the Cyprus-Greece and Turkey desks.
At the meeting it was put, once again, the refusal of Turkey to abide by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgement in relation to Greek Cypriot Missing and their Relatives, as well as the unwillingness and inability of the international community to persuade or force Turkey to abide.
Unfortunately, as in previous meetings the reply of the FCO was the same. “We do all we can to persuade Turkey to abide. We can do no more”. Our representatives strongly expressed their disagreement to that contention.
It was pointed out that the Organisation is not at all happy with the stance taken by the UK Government (UKG) and insisted that they can do a lot more towards Turkey on this issue. The ORMC (UK) members pointed out that the UKG not only has the obligation but also is in a strong position to exert pressure on Turkey. The F&CO officials responded by suggesting that: since whenever they raise the Greek Cypriot Missing issue, Turkish officials raise the issue of Turkish Cypriot Missing and that restrict them from putting additional pressure, as they do not want to be accused of bias.
Our representatives demanded that the UK Government stop the pretence of impartiality and “sitting on the fence”, that greatly favours Turkey.
And, if it really wants a solution to both issues of the Missing, it would be better to study each case separately, identify the barriers to the solution for each case and act accordingly, for the restoration of human rights for all the Missing and their Relatives. Sitting on the fence only benefits the perpetrators of this hideous crime.
CUTTING OF THE NEW YEAR’S CAKE:
This took place on Sunday 17th Jan 2010 at St Barnaba’s Church Hall, after the service at St. Mary’s church. Bishop Athanasios after prayers, cut and distributed the cake to all present. Short speeches followed by ORMC (UK) President N. Neokleous and the Consul General Mr E. Savva. Support was also expressed by DY.SY (UK) President Mr A. Papaevripides, Mrs L. Pattichi of the Ladies Section of DY.SY (UK) who donated a cheque for £500, on behalf of the Ladies Group and from Mr M. Kashis of EDEK (UK) who also offered £500.
The ORMC President thanked them all and all those present and promised that the donated money will be used wisely and will help our campaign.
ARGUMENT AGAINST PEACE OR OBLIGATION TO HUMAN RIGHTS?
For 34 years now we have been lobbying Governments, Heads of States, democratically elected public representatives and especially our Government here in the UK to help locate and identify the fate of all the missing Cypriots from 1974 but even earlier from 1963.
Unfortunately not everyone out there seems to understand this basic Human Rights obligation to those that disappeared but also of their relatives who for so many years are still living in the dark about the fate of their loved ones.
Our friend has completely missed the whole point of our letter to the MPs. We as the relatives of the Missing Cypriots want to know the fate of our loved ones. This is a basic human right and nobody should try and deny us that right.
All we want to know is if our loved ones are dead, where are they buried so that they can be exhumed and be given a proper burial and if they are alive to be returned. Is this too much to ask?
The UN sponsored CMP (Committee of Missing People) in Cyprus is doing a grand job, but it will do a better job if the Turkish army would give all the information it has about the Missing. So far it has given absolutely NOTHING!
This is why, as British citizens, we want the British Government to apply pressure on Turkey to give all the information it has about our Missing. After all the European Court of Human Rights has already ruled, in the case Varnava and others, that Turkey had violated Article 2 (right to life) and Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to conduct an effective investigation into their whereabouts. It also ruled that Turkey had breached the rights of the nine relatives under Article 3 (proscribing inhuman or degrading treatment).
On 14th July 09, from 5.30pm members and friends of our Organisation attended the picketing outside the Houses of Parliament for our Missing. Many MPs came out to meet us and listened and talked to family members of our Missing.
At 6.30pm the picketing ended and we moved to the meeting room inside the Houses where MPs spoke about the issue and stressed the importance of ascertaining the fate of all our Missing. They all agreed that Turkey must give all the information it has on the Missing and that our Government must apply pressure on Turkey to do so. Our members felt a lot happier of what was said at this meeting than any of the previous ones. Let us hope that something will be done soon!
From our stand at the Wine Festival 27-28th June 09 (below).
A letter sent to Caroline Flint, Minister for Europe following her blanket response to several MPs' letters:
Many MPs received an identical letter from you after writing to the Foreign Secretary or to the Foreign Office regarding the problem of Missing Persons of Cyprus. We felt the need to respond to your letter because we believe that some of the statements made are inaccurate while others require further clarification...” Read in full here...we are awaiting a reply.
The letter below was sent to many of our MPs at the end of February 2009:
"...Following the recent admission by a Turkish ex-soldier, that he was involved in the execution of ten prisoners of war during the invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and considering that many similar stories appeared in the past, we, the relatives of our missing loved ones, find ourselves again in turmoil..."
Read in full here
The reply was the same to all of them from C. Flint, Minister for Europe.
"Thank you for your letter of 3 March on behalf of your constituents at the Lobby for Cyprus and the Organisation of Relatives of Missing Cypriots about missing persons in Cyprus..."
Read in full here
Other correspondence is noted here:
Letter to Caroline Flint, Minister for Europe, 4.2.2009
...We hope you would agree, that while the two leaders are very likely to find common ground in many areas, some issues they cannot tackle by themselves, such as the removal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus and the solution to the Missing Persons problem..."
Read full letter here
And our second letter, dated 28th March 2009
It was a pleasure to see you last Thursday afternoon at the Cypriot Community Centre in Wood Green and having the opportunity to listen to you and the other quests present.
I put a question to you for which your reply did not leave me completely satisfied and hence the present letter to you. My question was “Is our Government prepared to use practical measures to persuade or even force Turkey to abide by the ECHR judgement against her regarding the issue of our Missing”?
Read full letter here
Letter to Olli Rhen, EU Commissioner, 5.2.2009
We have heard that you would be visiting Cyprus in the next few days and that you and the EU support the efforts of the two leaders to find a solution for the Cypriots. We hope you would agree, that while the two leaders are very likely to find common ground in many areas, some issues they cannot tackle by themselves, such as the removal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus and the solution to the Missing Persons problem...."
Read full letter here
And his reply received in February 2009
"...Concerning the specific case you are mentioning, the facts now need to be established. The Commission continues to support fully the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus..."
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Some relatives of missing persons attended the hearing of their case against Turkey in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), on 19th November 2008.
“We are all overwhelmed by the experience, let’s hope that the judges of the Court will do their duty and render justice,” was the comment of one of the relatives.
The Court’s final decision is expected in three to six months and would decide the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus.
Turkey appealed against a previous judgment of the ECHR condemning it for failing to carry out an effective investigation into the fate of the missing and for subjecting their relatives to inhumane treatment as a result.
It waas pointed out that Turkey had a duty to investigate the 1974 disappearance of the Greek Cypriots since adopting the European Convention on Human Rights in 1954.
On Thursday 13th November 2008, our President N. Neokleous accompanied by Committee members C. Pavlou, K. Paschalis, Y. Kouvaros and Federation members A. Karaolis and S. Constantinides, had a meeting with the said MPs regarding future actions to push forward our case. The President congratulated A. Meale for his election to V. Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe. Views and ideas were exchanged and future plans agreed. It was a very useful meeting and it was also agreed that a further meeting with the Foreign Office would be a good idea. This to be held in Jan/Feb 09 and the Cyprus Committee to be also represented. A meeting with C. Flint (the new Minister for Europe) requested by the Cyprus Committee, is also expected early next year.
L to R:- Costas Pavlou, Andreas Karaolis, Neoklis Neokleous, Allan Meale, Suzie Constantinides, Rudi Vis, Yiannis Kouvaros and Kyriacos Paschalis.
ORMC members attend demo outside the Turkish embassy on 15th November 08 (left) to condemn the illegal declaration of independence of the pseudo state in the north of Cyprus.
The European Union (EU) to provide further funding for the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP)
The report, by the EU’s Special Rapporteur on Missing Persons in Cyprus (Ms Ewa Klamt MEP) has been adopted by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (18th June 08). The EU will provide funding to the CMP of 2 million euros from 2009 onwards. The European Parliament also authorises Mrs Ewa Klamt to take all possible steps to help both sides to continue the work in ascertaining the fate of each and everyone of the Missing. The report also indicates the need for Turkey to comply with the ECHR judgement on the Missing of 10th May 2001.
Greece makes further contributes to the CMP (Cyprus) - July 2008 to the tune of EUR 100,000
The CMP is striving to locate as many remains as possible in order to bring an end to the uncertainty, which has affected so many families for so many years.
To date, the remains of over 400 individuals have been exhumed and over 100 returned to the families concerned.
The anthropologists and geneticists working on the CMP Project on the Exhumation, Identification and Return of Remains of Missing Persons in Cyprus notified the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) of 11 new identifications. All the families concerned have been informed by the CMP over the past few days. The total number of missing persons identified so far through the CMP project is 105 (76 Greek Cypriots and 29 Turkish Cypriots). Additional identifications of remains are expected in the weeks to come.
Exhumations continue to be carried out island-wide by Cypriot archaeologists and anthropologists of the CMP Bi-Communal Team. One team is working in Gerasa on the search of remains of Turkish Cypriot missing, while two teams are working in Kyrenia and in the Mesaoria plain on the search for Greek Cypriot missing persons. Similarly, exhumation work was also carried out recently in the region of the Karpasia.
Identifications: Amongst the latest identifications of remains of our Missing, identified Costas Melissos and Paschalis Mosfili have relatives who are members of our Organisation. We express our sincere condolences to them. Individual sympathy letters have also been sent.
European Court finds Turkey guilty (again!) - April 2008
The case concerns nine Cypriots missing since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The court ruled that Turkey had violated Article 2 (right to life) and Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to conduct an effective investigation into their whereabouts. It also found that Turkey had breached the rights of the nine relatives under Article 3 (proscribing inhuman or degrading treatment).
(The ECHR delivered the same judgement in May 2001. Turkey however refuses to comply with the Court’s decision and ignores interim resolutions by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe backing the Court’s decision)
The court rejected Turkey’s contention that missing persons should be presumed dead. It also confirmed that the CMP (Committee of Missing Persons) in Cyprus was not satisfactory replacement of Turkey’s obligation to conduct an effective investigation. This is of great significance for some 170 similar applications to the Court yet to be decided.
The meeting was held at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia and was attended by representatives of the four Committees of the Missing, namely Cyprus 1963-4, Cyprus 1974, Greece and UK, as well as representatives of the CMP (Committee on Missing Persons), the Cyprus Genetic Centre and others. The President confirmed that the identifications will be speeded up and more staff will be employed.
It is estimated that by the end of the year another 300 or so remains will be identified. The CMP representative confirmed that exhumations are continuing on both sides. There are three units working in the north and one in the south.
The UK supports the ECHR judgement of Jan 08
The UK Government, at the meeting of the Committee of the Permanent Representatives in Strasbourg, 4-6 March 08, has supported the judgement against Turkey on the issue of the Missing and their relatives. This is the case of the nine missing persons whose relatives brought the case at the ECHR, back in 1990. Turkey is again asked to provide all necessary information regarding the fate of the said nine. Two of those missing, Andreas Varnava and Savvas Apostolides, have got brothers and sisters who live in the UK. These relatives have written to their local MPs and MEPs requesting that pressure is applied on Turkey, by the UK, so as to be forced to abide by the ECHR judgement. This is in addition to the efforts of our Organisation towards the Foreign Office.