Embargoed! and its Mission
We are a human rights group campaigning to bring an immediate and unconditional end to the international isolation of North Cyprus, and the full restoration of political, economic and social rights of the Turkish Cypriot people. The idea of three friends, Bulent Osman, Gulfem Veziroglu and Ipek Ozerim, Embargoed! was formed in September 2004 with twenty signatories. The first committee comprised Bulent Osman (Chair), Ipek Ozerim (Secretary) and Zeki Mehmed (Treasurer) and we publicly launched in London and Nicosia, North Cyprus on 4 March 2005. Today the group’s support runs into the thousands.
We operate as an independent non-profit membership association limited by guarantee – UK company registration number 05433072. The campaign is driven forward by the incredible energy and tenacity of our active members, with financial support provided through membership subscriptions, donations and fundraising activities.
Our founding members are primarily from London – the home of the largest diaspora of Turkish Cypriots. A multi-ethnic group of all ages, our diverse membership also spans a wide range of social and professional backgrounds. What unites us is our outrage at the international community’s ongoing treatment of North Cyprus and its citizens.
Together, we form a group of committed human rights activists that use positive, peaceful actions to raise awareness about the plight of Turkish Cypriots and to lobby for change.
Core Values and Methods
Human rights is everybody’s right!
We use all possible channels to mobilise non-violent action and support for our campaign. We will continue to lobby governments, political parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, and other related groups to end the unjust isolation imposed on the people of North Cyprus.
Although Embargoed! is committed to championing Turkish Cypriot rights, we do not believe this should be at the expense of Greek Cypriot rights. During the course of our campaign, we have tried to increase understanding, respect and dignity between the two sides in Cyprus, challenging intolerance where it exists and at the same time breaking down barriers. As a group, we do not endorse any particular political end solution in Cyprus – we believe this should be left to the democratic free will of the two sides. However, we are committed to helping Greek and Turkish Cypriots reconcile their past and present differences.
Hussein Chalayan MBE – Patron
“Joining Embargoed! means I can contribute towards awareness [about this campaign] through creative and cultural mediums, drawing in people who would otherwise be ignorant about the plight of Turkish Cypriots.”
Hussein Chalayan was born in Nicosia (Lefkosa in Turkish) in 1970 and graduated from the Turkish College (Turk Maarif Kolej) of his hometown. His roots are a regular inspiration for his work.
Chalayan moved to England with his family in 1978. Obtaining British citizenship, he proceeded to study design in London and his graduate collection in 1993, titled “The Tangent Flows”, contained clothes which he had buried in his back yard and dug up again. An instant sensation, the whole collection was purchased and displayed in luxury designer store Browns in London.
In 1995, Chalayan beat 100 competitors to clinch a top London fashion design award. The contest, organised by the company “Absolut”, resulted in Chalayan, aged 25, winning financial backing to the tune of £28,000 to develop creations for the British capital’s Fashion Week in October 1995.
Also in 1995 Chalayan works with Icelandic avant-garde pop diva Björk. The jacket that Björk wears on the iconic cover of her album Post was designed by Hussein Chalayan. The Björk’s Post music tour also featured several creations by Chalayan, with Björk modelling for Chalayan in October 1995 for his London Fashion Week show. Björk on Chalayan: “He raises daily life to a level of something magical, he was born with these powers and it is a question of whether 50,000 business people are willing to go there with him.”
In the fall of 1998, while still designing his signature line, he was appointed as a design consultant for New York knitwear label TSE. His collaboration with them lasted till 2001, when British jeweler Asprey appointed Chalayan as their fashion director in 2001. He has also worked with well-known high-street brands including Marks and Spencer and Top Shop.
He was crowned ‘British Designer of the Year’ in 1999 and 2000, and was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 17 June 2006. International recognition also followed, where he was awarded the Design Star Honoree by The Fashion Group International at their annual Night of Stars Gala, New York in 2007.
In 2002, Chalayan expanded his design portfolio by adding menswear, the exclusive rights of which were sold to internet retailer Yoox.com in 2007. During this time, the designed also announced plans to relocate his fashion shows to Paris. And in 2004, he added another line ‘Chalayan’ to his expanding list of design duties. In 2003, Hussein Chalayan portrayed his wabi-sabi inspiration through amorphous layered drapings.
Collaborations do not stop with art and fashion for the designer, who is also a philanthropist. In 2005, he became Embargoed!’s patron, designing the Rotten Lemons t-shirt, which were displayed in his Paris fashion show in October 2005. In 2007, Chalayan donated a showpiece to the ‘Fashion is Art’ exhibition in aid of radio station Capital 95.8’s Help a London Child charity which was sold at an exclusive auction in London.
In February 2008, Chalayan was appointed as the creative director for German sportswear label Puma, with the company announcing that they have purchased a majority stake in his label.
Danis Salman – Patron of Football
Born in Cyprus in 1960, Danis moved to the East End of London when he was just two. He started playing football at school and by the age of 11 he was first spotted by a QPR scout who invited him to train with the club. This was quickly followed by many of the top London clubs – Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham pursuing the young talent. In his school holidays, he trained further afield from Ipswich to Manchester and by the age of 15 he was offered a contract by Arsenal FC.
With young Danis’ dad moving back to Cyprus, the player turned his back on the super club and instead signed for Brentford in 1975 much to the surprise of Arsenal. The Bees manager John Doherty had first coached Danis at QPR when he was 11 and again took the youngster under his wing.
By the age of 18, Danis had already played 100 professional games for the club. A commanding figure at the back, whether as Centre Half or Full Back, his talents were picked up by the England team and Danis was selected to play for his adopted country at the World Youth Cup in Poland in 1978. He turned down a big money move to QPR in 1980 and instead moved to Millwall in 1986.
Danis was integral in helping the club get promoted to the top flight – the first time in its history. That season the club’s supporters voted him their Player of the Year. He remained at the club until 1990 when he moved down to Plymouth and a quiet life by the sea. He undertook a short spell at Peterborough in 1993, where he again helped the club gain promotion, before Danis hung up his professional boots.
A fully qualified professional coach, Danis is still fully involved in football, working with local communities and schools in Plymouth and the surrounding region. He has trained amateur youth teams and now runs his own Soccer Academies, where youngsters from the age of 5 can come to train. Open to kids of all abilities and social backgrounds, Danis takes great pleasure in helping them develop not only their footballing skills, but also their teamwork, personal confidence and general health.
He is keen to help his native country and feels strongly about the international isolation of his fellow Turkish Cypriots, who are denied the right to play even friendly football matches. A staunch believer that politics should never interfere with sports unless it is for positive reasons, Danis is happy to help spearhead the campaign to end the football embargoes. He is also working on a project to extend his Soccer Academies to North Cyprus to help youngsters prepare for the day when they too can play the ‘Beautiful Game’ freely with others around the world.
Chairperson – Fahri Zihni
Secretary – Muhsin Mustafa
Treasurer – James Clements
Europe Liaison Officer – Jeannne-Marie Douglass
1. When was Embargoed! launched and why?
The group was formed in September 2004 and launched on 4 March 2005. Our launch date coincided with the 41st anniversary of the formal start of the embargoes against Turkish Cypriots on 4 March 1964 when UN Resolution 186 was passed. This badly worded Resolution referred to the then Greek Cypriot authority as the ‘Government of Cyprus’, without referring to the constitutional rights of Turkish Cypriots as political equals. The fallout of this is still being experienced today.
2. Why did you call yourselves Embargoed!?
The group felt it needed a short name that explained what our cause was about or at least to make people curious about who we were.
3. What is the purpose/campaign mission of Embargoed!?
We are a human rights group that is campaigning for the immediate and unconditional end to all embargoes against Turkish Cypriots and North Cyprus.
4. Is Embargoed! tied to any political party or organisation?
No, we are independent of all political parties and groups.
5. How do you fund your campaign?
Through annual membership subscriptions, fundraising and donations.
6. Are you funded by any political party or organisation?
No – see response to above question. Embargoed! would refuse any donations that would compromise its independence and/or the group’s integrity.
7. Which groups do you work with?
Embargoed! is open to working with all groups and organisations that share its peaceful aims to end the embargoes against North Cyprus and whose actions and/or political stance would not compromise Embargoed!’s independence, integrity and values. To date, we have formed common actions that involved both UK, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot associations.
8. Why are you focussing on human rights and not on a political settlement?
Embargoed! believes that an embargo-free life is the fundamental right of every human being regardless of their political stance. It is outrageous that while Greek Cypriots enjoy their basic human rights and freedoms, Turkish Cypriots and others living and working in North Cyprus are denied theirs, told by the international community they can only regain their basic rights when a political settlement comes. This very approach is why the Cyprus Conflict has dragged on as long as it has – because the two sides are not treated equally. When this situation changes, we believe the two sides will naturally and freely determine their preferred political settlement.
9. Do you advocate a political solution in Cyprus?
No, we do not advocate any political settlement for Cyprus. Our diverse membership have different views on their preferred solutions, some would like to see a united Cyprus without any borders, others support a bi-zonal bi-federal settlement, while others still seek a two-State solution. What unites us is our opposition to the unjust embargoes imposed on Turkish Cypriots.
Ultimately, it is up to the two peoples of Cyprus to decide what is the best political settlement for them. External parties should not interfere in this process or seek to dictate solutions to them.
10. How large is your support base?
We enjoy widespread support among Turkish Cypriots and many others in North Cyprus, the UK and beyond. Our subscribing membership runs into hundreds, while thousands more have signed up to our online petition and social networking groups.
11. Who are your members?
Membership of Embargoed! is open to everyone that shares our campaign aims and ethics, and abides by our Constitution and Code of Conduct.
Our group is multi-ethnic, with members of all ages and from a wide spectrum of social and professional backgrounds (businesspeople, students, professionals, housewives etc). While our opinions regarding the Cyprus question and general politics vary, we are all united on human rights and wanting to see the world honour its promises to free Turkish Cypriots following their ‘Yes’ vote in the Annan Plan referendum in April 2004.
12. Do I have to be a member or pay a donation to sign the Charter petition?
No. Although membership subscriptions and donations are vital in funding our campaign, you do not need to pay a membership subscription fee to support our campaign activities or to receive our electronic newsletter. These are open to all sympathisers.
13. How are the Executive Committee for Embargoed! chosen?
Officers of the Executive Committee are drawn from our membership. We hold elections each year and those interested in standing for a position are invited to put their nominations forward, which must be seconded by two other Embargoed! members. We then have a secret ballot to decide any contested posts.
14. What do you do with the money you collect from membership subscriptions, fundraising and donations?
Embargoed! is driven by volunteers, but increasingly we see the scope of this campaign needs to have dedicated and specialist resources, particularly as our targets include international Governments and agencies. From graphic design to public relations, professional support costs money, as do the tools we use to lobby, such as producing brochures and websites. We also need to cover basic administrative expenses, such as stationery, stamps, envelopes, telephone, and travel.
15. Why do you believe Embargoed! can make a difference, when the TRNC and Turkish politicians have not been able to succeed in this?
Because the targets set are achievable and people power is key to this. The denial of basic human rights for Turkish Cypriots cannot continue to be defended in today’s political climate. The UN, US, EU and UK have already voiced support for ending the Turkish Cypriots’ isolation. In other words, the door is already ajar and only needs to be leant on to open! We need to remain engaged in this process to ensure the promises made are kept.
Around the world we continue to witness how people power is successfully challenging unjust regimes and decisions, from the fall of apartheid in South Africa to the Gurkhas winning their right to come and live in Britain. These people-led campaigns make the politicians sit-up and listen. Our position is no different.
Previously, Turkish Cypriots have not been as vocal or organised or unified enough to make the necessary impact. Embargoed! hopes to change that by providing a common, intelligent platform that everyone can back and show the world we will not accept the current state of affairs.
16. How long will you carry on for?
As long as it takes and as long as we have active support from the people.
17. What happens if Embargoed! succeeds and the embargoes are lifted?
We will close Embargoed! and go and find ourselves a new mission!
18. Do you restrict flags or banners at your demonstrations?
Embargoed! is happy for people to bring flags and banners to its demonstrations. However, as a human rights campaign that is open to people from all ethnic and national backgrounds, it is important that our actions are as inclusive as possible. Having a mass of Turkish and/or Turkish Cypriot flags on display does not necessarily reflect this. Also, waving flags doesn’t necessarily get the point across, so we would prefer people bring banners with messages on.
What we will not tolerate are flags or banners that would cause offence to others, such as the displaying of a flag related to a fascist group or a banner inciting racial hatred of others.