Turkey Doubles Down on Atatürk’s Genocidal Legacy

September 16, 2021

Since 1974, the occupation regime has been pursuing a policy of pillage, destruction and desecration of the cultural heritage of Cyprus; this has led to the destruction or desecration of more than 500 Greek Orthodox churches and chapels in the occupied areas of Cyprus and the illegal transfer of more than 60,000 ancient artifacts to third countries.

The Turkish occupation of Cyprus continues to violate the Third Vienna Agreement of August 1975, which is still the only agreement providing for the treatment of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The Order of Saint Andrew calls upon Turkey to fully respect the religious freedoms of the Greek Orthodox Christians who continue to live in the northern occupied part of Cyprus and urges the United States Government to condemn this unlawful occupation and work towards truly safeguarding the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the religious freedom, of the Orthodox Christians who reside there.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in occupied Cyprus, see here.

“Turkey Doubles Down on Atatürk’s Genocidal Legacy,” International Christian Concern, September 10, 2021:

09/10/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on September 8, schools in the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus were ordered to remove from a curriculum textbook language that praised modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as a “hero.”

Turkey has reacted with threats and objection, a response stemming from its continued denial of its Christian genocide towards Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians. It was this genocide that paved the way for the founding of modern Turkey, and also the illegal Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974. Today, Turkey exports genocide across the world through military expansionism.

“It’s not possible for books being used for instruction in our schools to portray Kemal Atatürk as a paradigm of a moral leader who ‘benefited the people,’” the Greek Cypriot Education Ministry said in a statement. “Because, as it’s well known, Ataturk and the Young Turks are responsible for crimes against people like the Armenian Genocide, of the Pontian Greeks, the Assyrians.”

George Gigicos, Chairman of The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee (OPAC) stated, “We stand with the Republic of Cyprus – an island of a millennia-old Hellenic heritage. The revisionist history that casts the death throes of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Turkish State as a peaceful transition — without reference or regard to the annihilation and displacement of millions of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Orthodox Christians — is the same propaganda that casts the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 as an act of so-called ‘self-defense.’ The mass destruction of Christian churches and shrines in Turkish-occupied Cyprus tell the truth. Turkish Cypriots — a direct legacy of Ottoman occupation — were never in danger or threatened by the Hellenic majority. They lived in peace and harmony in one country until 1974 and should do so again without interference from outside forces.”

Turkish aggression, harassment, and discrimination towards Greek Cypriots continues today. For example, a cultural activist and refugee victim of the 1974 invasion recently attempted to return home in the Turkish-occupied part of the island. The German magazine Der Spiegel joined her undercover in this attempt and wrote about the continued trauma of Turkey’s actions toward Cyprus.

Observing one of many experiences during their journey with her, they wrote“It’s her church, at the end of Esperidon Street. The door is nailed shut. Tasoula Hadjitofi sticks her head through a hole where there was once a windowpane. She sees the bench where she sat as a child and the iconostasis she used to pray in front of. The icons are missing from the iconostasis. Tasoula Hadjitofi rattles the door. Then she freezes.  She hears the engine of an approaching car, the driver shifts up a gear. She throws herself down on the flagstones of the church and lies there, her face in her hands. The car leaves a cloud of dust.”