Embargoed! on the offensive in Europe
03 Oct 11 UK based Human Rights group Embargoed! attended HDIM, an international human rights convention in Warsaw, Poland last week. Less than 48 hours later the group delivered a presentation to the EU Parliament’s High Level Contact Group for Relations with the Turkish Cypriot People (“CYTR”) in Strasbourg. At both events the Embargoed! delegates challenged the injustice of the embargoes placed on North Cyprus.
The OSCE Human Rights Conference is the largest of its kind in Europe and Embargoed! were attending for the fifth consecutive year. They were represented by lawyer Ergin Balli. Mr Balli gave a presentation to the working session on the Rule of Law, highlighting how the Greek Cypriot administration do not represent or protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots living in North Cyprus. He drew specific attention to the plight of Turkish Cypriot students who are denied the same access to educational opportunities as their counterparts in South Cyprus. Mr Balli added “access to education is a fundamental human right. It is inexcusable that Greek Cypriots deny Turkish Cypriots the same access to educational opportunities as enjoyed by students in South Cyprus.”
The submission fell on deaf ears when the Greek Cypriot representative at HDIM stood up and claimed the discrimination was justified. This confirms that despite the ongoing negotiation talks the Greek Cypriots are still in denial about the severe injustices faced by Turkish Cypriots living in North Cyprus.
In Strasbourg Embargoed! Treasurer Fahri Zihni represented the Turkish Cypriot community at the European Parliament event. He explained how isolated the Turkish Cypriot community feels because it is unable to do simple things such as trade directly or engage in international sporting events. The consensus among the members of the CYTR was that more had to be done to improve on trade between the two sides of the island (but again, many indirect restrictions are applied by the Greek Cypriott side to cross-border trade). Regret was also expressed by some of the members that Turkish Cypriots sportspersons are not able to compete on international forums.
In concluding his presentation Mr Zihni thanked the CYTR for their invitation to speak. He urged them to continue to communicate directly with Turkish Cypriots in order to add balance to the debate surrounding the Cyprus problem. Unfortunately the two members of the CYTR who were of Greek or Greek Cypriot heritage objected to Embargoed!’s presence at the meeting. Mr Zihni noted “it is a shame, that as a Turkish Cypriot addressing a group which has been set up to promote the EU’s relations with Turkish Cypriot people, that my attendance at that meeting was objected too by some members. This seems counter-intuitive to me and shows that in some quarters of the EU we face an uphill struggle in trying to assert our presence and to have our voices listened to and heard.”
Embargoed! is immensely proud to have taken part in these two vitally important events. Its Chairperson Emel Djevdet added “This has been a historic week for Embargoed!; we have built on past successes by addressing the HDIM Conference and have exploited an exciting new opportunity by addressing a contact group directly within the heart of the EU. Our presentations succinctly highlighted the injustices Turkish Cypriots continue to face in a bid to readdress some of the myths that are consistently perpetrated by the Greek Cypriot lobby machinery. The Turkish Cypriots have suffered in silence for too long. I hope our plight will be recognised by the United Nations in the months ahead – if the embargoes aren’t dropped soon, the campaign for official UN statehood for the TRNC will only grow.”
Notes to editors
About Embargoed! – www.embargoed.org
Embargoed! is an independent human rights group campaigning for the immediate and unconditional end to all embargoes against North Cyprus. The group was formed in September 2004 and aims to play an active role in raising awareness about the isolation of North Cyprus and lobbying world leaders and institutions to restore the fundamental political, economic and social rights of Turkish Cypriots.
About OSCE - www.osce.org
The Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest regional peace, security and international cooperation organisation.
About HDIM – http://www1.osce.org/odihr/
Based in Warsaw, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human rights (ODIHR) hosts the annual HDIM event, which has been running for over 12 years. One of its unique features is that NGOs are placed on an equal footing with all government and international representatives.
Part of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) is the largest human rights conference in Europe. Taking place over 10 days, it aims to eradicate injustice and promote world peace and stability. Member countries and organisations review human rights policies and consider ways to promote tolerance, anti-discrimination and anti-nationalism to combat xenophobia and human rights abuses. The conference attracts hundreds of delegates from governments, international experts and some 300 NGOs.
About EU Parliament’s High Level Contact Group for Relations with the Turkish Cypriot People - http://www.europarl.europa.eu/cytr/cms/cache/offonce/lang/en/CYTR_home/about
The High-Level Contact Group was set up to strengthen relations with the Cypriot community in the northern part of the island and to establish contact with the political representatives of the northern part of the island, elected representatives and representatives of civil society in the broadest sense of the term. The group’s aim is to put an end to the isolation of the Turkish-Cypriot community and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus, as was laid down in the Council Conclusions of 26 April 2004.
Photograph 1 L-R: Embargoed! Treasurer Fahri ZIHNI with CYTR’s Co-ordinator Libor ROUČEK
Photograph 2 R-L: Embargoed! Treasurer Fahri ZIHNI, CYTR’s Deputy Co-ordinator Francoise GROSSETETE and Co-Ordinator Libor ROUČEK
Released on 03/10/2011
Ms. Emel Djevdet T: +44 (0) 780 693 2966 E: email@example.com
Released on 03/10/2011