Turkish Cypriot Union protest Turkey's Policies
This blog-post is intended to highlight the discussion held in
the Euro Parliament yesterday 25th November 2009 to debate
the Report submitted by the Commission and EU Enlargement
Commissioner Olli Rehn about the EU's continuing negotiations
regarding Turkey's possible accession to the bloc 5 years after
it has failed to implement the Ankara Agreement which was part
of the terms for its commencing such a process.
View video of the European Parliament's discussion:
This comes during the week when Turkish Cypriot Unions staged
massive demonstrations outside both the Turkish Embassy in 'northern'
Cyprus and outside the 'parliament' of the vassal state it created by its
invasion of the island 35 years ago - as part of the expression of
indignation by indigenous Cypriots against the policies pursued by
the Republic of Turkey in Cyprus.
In addition to members of the Turkish Cypriot Teacher's Union, other
participants in the ongoing mobilisations against Turkey's policies on
the island include workers in the electricity and telephone unions as
well as those who work for the 'state' and for the 'municipalities', doctors,
nurses -- all the prestige sections of Turkish Cypriot society.
The video immediately below is from the 29th October demonstrations
which saw 19 people arrested:
The video immediately below is from the even larger 23rd November
demonstration during which tear gas was used by 'the authorities'
during which 17 people were arrested.
The section below provides an extensive translation from a particular
episode of the Cyprus Broadcasting Coropration's Biz-Emeis bilingual
Greek-Turkish programme, broadcast on 16th November.
The passage which is most relevant to bring to the attention of the world,
and to members of the European Parliament - as the EU prepares for the
December EU Leader's Summit which is to decide on the future of
Turkey's accession process in the light of the 'lack of progress in
normalising relations with the Republic of Cyprus'
... is the following:
"... the message we want to send out through our actions inThe entirety of the interview is highly revealing of how educated
the north is directed against Turkey. Because the ones who
impose the policy of assimilation and integration is none
other than the Republic of Turkey. On the one hand it tells
the whole world that it desires a solution on the island yet
on the other it tries to assimilate and integrate the north
of the island."
indigenous Cypriots who are of Turkish ethnicity feel about Turkey's
policies on Cyprus, and so the content of the videos embedded
below has been translated into English and is exclusively available
from this blog. Other publishers are encouraged to re-print the
content provided below.
Turkish Cypriot Unions protest Turkey's policies 1of3
(Turkish Cypriot Announcer): Good evening dear viewers.
We are with you again for the first programme of the week
with purely Cypriot matters. Our programme is proud that
from this first programme we are closely following current
events. So tonight we will deal with yet another current
matter, and in order to be better informed about the
problems which are being faced by trade unionists, we
have with us in the studio the Secretary General of KTÖS,
Mr. Şener Elcil and the Executive President of the Union,
Mr. Burak Maviş.
(Turkish Cypriot Interviewer): Good evening ladies and
gentlemen - during recent days we have seen the
intensification of union struggles in the Turkish Cypriot
community. There are strikes and demonstrations, and
as always in all the protests KTÖS is to be found in the
front line. We have with us in the studio the 'General
Secretary' of KTÖS, Mr Sener Ercil and the 'Organising
Secretary' of the union, Mr Burak Maviş, who will update
us on the aims of the unions and provide us with a first
assessment on the demonstrations which are taking place
(in the 'north') ... welcome.
(Greek Cypriot Interviewer): Welcome.
(Turkish Cypriot Interviewer): What are the aims of the
unions and why have they mobilised and become involved
in such intensive action? Are the reasons economic ones,
political ones, or are there other reasons?
(Şener Elcil): The reasons for the mobilisation are not
economic ones. These are political decisions which are
related to economic matters. As you know, there have
been systematic policies which are intended to achieve
integration of the north part of the island with Turkey, as
well as policies which are aimed at the assimilation of
the Turkish Cypriots.
Within the context of this policy, firstly the names of
Turkish Cypriot villages have been changed, forcing
Turkish Cypriots to take on new names.
Furthermore, all economic activities are directed by
Turkey. A vassal administration has been created in
the north of the island ... and because they had no faith
in the Turkish Cypriots they have transferred a numerically
greater number of people (from Turkey) making them
'citizens' and have thus undermined the political will of the Turkish Cypriots. Now there are efforts underway to make
the economy in the north of the island similar to that of Turkey.
Within the context of these efforts a law has been prepared.
This law had been prepared during the period when the
CTP (Republican People's Party) had been in power. Having
realised they couldn't impose this 'law' on the CTP they
went ahead with 'early elections'. With the advent to
power of the UBP (Party of National Unity), which,
obeying Turkey's instructions, is trying to enforce this
Now, regarding the provisions of this 'law'- all new employees
in public service will start at half the salary. Though a new employee would have started on 1000 euros a month, this
will now be reduced to about 500 euros. I am talking about
the gross salary. Moreover, the salaries of existing
employees will be reduced by one third.
In parallel with this however, the salaries of those holding political office will be increased.
We therefore feel that this law is not based on economics
but on politics. In this way a political elite is created which
will implement Turkey's directives. All those will get good
salaries and will implement Turkey's policies while the rest,
and in particular the Turkish Cypriots who will not be able
to make ends meet with a low salary, will be forced to
emigrate from the island.
Consequently this is all about a law intended to create emigration of the Turkish Cypriots from the island.
For those who govern us, the significance is only the size
of the population, because with the policy of "A Turk leaves,
a Turk arrives" (a Turkish Cypriot leaves, a Turkish settler arrives) the Turkish Cypriots are of no importance to them.
This is a plan which is intended to destroy, to decimate, our community.
The rights of the unions are also abolished in collective bargaining. This is another way to close the unions because
it is the unions which resist such anti-democratic practices.
This 'law' consequently has political aims and that is the
reason why we are reacting with demonstrations and other actions.
(Question from Turkish Cypriot interviewer): Mr Maviş, the other day there was a big demonstration. Certain media downplayed this demonstration, saying for example that participation was minimal. How do you evaluate participation in the demonstration?
(Burak Maviş): It is natural for such events to be misrepresented in the media which are under the influence of the dominant side. Such information appeared in newspapers such as Kibris, Vatan and Volkan - newspapers which are dependent, and are being directed. The other newspapers did not convey such (misrepresented) news. On the contrary, they published articles and commentaries which showed the success and effectiveness of this demonstration.
At this point I would like to thank the Turkish Cypriot media
which support such demonstrations by the unions.
Participation in the demonstration, particularly among
the Turkish Cypriot teachers approached 99%.
Some of our members did not take part in the strike for
political reasons. Our position towards them will be
determined by the provisions of our charter.
Our strike was crowned with success due to the
participation also of the other unions. We had a large
march. Students of the Educational Academy, the
Turkish Cypriot equivalent of the Cyprus Pedagogical
Institute also participated in the march. There was a
large and enthusiastic procession.
Despite the fact that our 'Constitution' guarantees the right to
strike and to demonstrate, the 'police' blocked us.
(Question from Turkish Cypriot interviewer): they obstructed you?
(Burak Maviş): ... they set up roadblocks.
We continued with our march, we bypassed the roadblocks and marched towards the point where we were due to have our demonstration, in front of the 'Parliament' and we protested where we were supposed to. This disturbed certain circles. Such a confrontation, and our getting past the roadblocks disturbed the authorities and their supporters, and those who wish the assimilation of the Turkish Cypriots.
Our strike was successful.
I do not know how far such news will reach, however as long as Turkish Cypriot society remains determinedly (at our side) it will provide the appropriate answer to such news-reports.
(Question from Turkish Cypriot interviewer): Were charges brought against some of those who took part in the strike?
(Burak Maviş): Yes, and I am one of those.
19 participants in the demonstration have had charges brought against them for disrupting the task of 'the police' and for attacks against 'policemen'.
This is all about particular people who are in the front line.
Leading persons in the union, among which are included the Executive President of KTÖS, Guven Baroglu, were instructed to report to 'the police' headquarters where charges were brought against them.
As a result of these summonses, all 19 of us went to the headquarters with our banners. Once there we declared that we did not commit the offences with which we have been charged.
This is all about a fascist tactic, the same as was practised in Nazi Germany and in underdeveloped countries - something which we felt to have been the case in Cyprus from 1955 until 1974. Using the right to democratic action we provided, and will continue to provide, our response to such practices.
Such coercion can not intimidate the Turkish Cypriot teachers, the Turkish Cypriot working classes, or Turkish Cypriots generally.
(end section 1)
(start section 2)
Turkish Cypriot Unions protest Turkey's policies 2of3
(Question from Greek Cypriot interviewer): In your response earlier, you mentioned that underlying all these problems is the arrival of masses of settlers. I have had cause to ask you in the past, and I don't know if at this particular time there are specific numbers - how many settlers are there currently? Are such figures available?
(Şener Elcil): It is very difficult for anyone to know what the
population is in the north of the island. Different sources
provide varying figures as regards the population there.
It is said that it is about one million - in his statements
Talat has referred to 500,000 - officially it is put at 264,000
- I believe however that this is a misleading number.
When ones goes out in the streets one sees the difference.
According to one study which we carried out in schools two years ago - of the students in our schools, 37% are children of citizens of the Republic of Turkey, 19% are children of settlers who came to the island after 1974 and who have been registered as citizens, 9% are children of settlers who are married to Turkish Cypriots, 1% are children from third countries. Children whose parents are indigenous Turkish Cypriots make up 34% of our students.
This shows that only one third of our population in the north
are Turkish Cypriots.
Approaching your question from this perspective, and if we do accept that Turkish Cypriots in the north are 130,000 we must therefore be talking about a population three times that.
Consequently it is not possible to talk about a specific
number ... but when we present these factors, as scientifically proven - we evoke a terse response - this is a matter which disturbs those who seek assimilation of the Turkish Cypriots.
Whoever does talk, or refer to such matters, does so at risk to their life.
As a result, the population of the north is unknown.
At a time when there are negotiations between our leaders, and if as a result of these we do proceed to a referendum, we as a union of Turkish Cypriot teachers demand, as we have incidentally also done in the past - that there should be a census of the population overseen by foreign observers.
I wish to stress that if there are to be those who will decide
on a solution and the future of our island, these should be the Cypriots.
(Question from Turkish Cypriot interviewer): As unions you
will of course naturally continue your industrial action.
Can you talk to us a little more about your plan of action?
(Şener Elcil): The north is entirely under Turkey's control and that of the government of the day.
We say this.
One of the reasons why on the day of the demonstration the 'police' attacked our comrades was because of a banner they were holding. This banner said that the Republic of Turkey is treating Cyprus as its province. We showed this banner in front of the Turkish Embassy. This disturbed them a lot.
Therefore the message we want to send out through our actions in the north is directed against Turkey. Because the ones who impose the policy of assimilation and integration is none other than the Republic of Turkey. On the one hand it tells the whole world that it desires a solution on the island yet on the other it tries to assimilate and integrate the north of the island.
Therefore, all our actions, and all our demonstrations, are
aimed at the officials of the Republic of Turkey. Behind all the attacksagainst us, the 'police interrogations', the attacks and the threats against us - is the government of the Republic of Turkey.
At this point I would like to give out the message that we will
continue our actions, the strikes and our demonstrations. We will wage our political struggle so that this 'legislation' will not be adopted, and if it is adopted we will continue until it is repealed.
(Question from Turkish Cypriot interviewer): According to some polls, people consider teachers to be in the category of those who are better-off and they do not understand why they should be on strike. How would you reply to that?
(Şener Elcil): The best organised and most militant union is the Teachers Union. That is how it has always been in the past, before the union was even created. In intra-communal clashes the teachers have always been at the forefront.
(Question from Greek Cypriot interviewer): To continue on from the question set by my colleague, and given what you have told us, other than your members who are participating en mass in these demonstrations - are there also simple Turkish Cypriots who are with you? Do they take part in your actions?
(Şener Elcil): We are not struggling alone. We have at our side the workers unions - the workers in the electricity and telephone unions as a common platform, there are those who work for the 'state' and workers in the municipalities, doctors, nurses -- all the prestige sections of society ... if you are asking why the teachers are doing this, the answer is that the teachers are not struggling for money ... the union of Turkish Cypriot Teachers is struggling for civil rights.
We are not involved in this struggle in order to improve our salaries or even our standard of living. We can achieve that if we do want to do that. We are affected however when the parents of the children we teach are working in bad conditions and are not adequately rewarded. The teachers are a part of society and as such we struggle for the welfare of the society, it defends its democratic rights and the creation of a social order where there is respect for human rights.
(end section 2)
(start section 3)
Turkish Cypriot Unions protest Turkey's policies 3of3
(Question from Greek Cypriot interviewer): We have only a
few minutes left - we would also like to know your future
plans. Given these actions which are already under way
- what will be your next steps? What will be your next
actions? Are there appeals?
(Burak Maviş): The struggle of the Turkish Cypriot
Teachers which started in 1968, with the understanding
that the problems of teachers are related to civil rights,
will continue into the future. Even though there are
economic reasons, our struggle is mainly a political one.
The efforts which began in 1955 and in 1974 led to the
de-facto division of the island and the separation of the
two communities, will continue into the future.
Turkey will continue to implement its policy of political assimilation of the Turkish Cypriots. Our union and the
Turkish Cypriot community will continue its struggle
against efforts to assimilate its identity, its culture, its
religious consciousness, its language (dialect) and the
social life of the Turkish Cypriots.
We will resist Turkey's efforts to implement the policy
which it implemented in Hatagi when it annexed it to
Turkey in 1939. We understood a long time ago that
we will not achieve our goal through 'elections' to
'parliament' and the kind of discussions which have
occurred from 1974 to this day.
In the north of the country there is a policy of "get up
get up - sit down sit down" ... there are those who
give the orders and those who implement them. The
elections are simply intended to choose those who
will implement the orders.
We know that the essential problem is that Ankara is
behind all the interventions which occur in the Turkish
Cypriot community. In setting our direction and our
actions we strive through strikes and demonstrations
to increasingly realise our society, to bring it with our
part so we can continue our struggle by projecting a
more radical and dynamic position.
(Question from Greek Cypriot interviewer): In closing,
during the last few seconds, will these actions continue,
and to what extent are you determined to implement
even more dynamic measures? Very quickly
(Şener Elcil): We are determined.
I do want to clearly lay down an important distinction.
As a Turkish Cypriot, when I cross into the south, I am
treated as a Turk. When I cross into the north I am
regarded as a Cypriot. I am first and foremost a Turkish
Cypriot. This must be understood. I want to remind
everyone in Cyprus that they must respect the struggle
which the Turkish Cypriots are involved with in the north.
We have been waging this struggle for many years now,
for the survival of our community, to not be assimilated
and we will continue this struggle to the end.
(Turkish Cypriot interviewer): We thank you, and I wish
you good luck with your struggle.
(Greek Cypriot interviewer): We thank you very much,
and we hope that your struggle will be productive.
Turkish Cypriot Newspapers 24th Nov 2009