Monday, March 25, 2013
The Illegal Occupation that MUST End! (re-post)
The Illegal Occupation That Must End
By: Steven Plaut
Date: Wednesday, July 14 2010
Famagusta, Cyprus: The ghost town lies near the very center of the
city, just outside the Venetian walls. It is home only to snakes,
scorpions, and rats of a hundred varieties. Signs on the fences around
the ghost town show armed Turkish soldiers threatening those taking
photographs with arrest or worse. The crumbling buildings inside the
perimeter are frozen in time in 1974, as if in an episode of "The
Nothing has changed since central Famagusta was converted into a ghost
town - called Varosha - by the invaders. It is said that the car
distributorships in the ghost town even today are stocked with vintage
1974 models. For years after the rape of Famagusta, people told of
seeing light bulbs still burning in the windows of the abandoned
buildings. Hollywood studios could clothe whole movie sets with the
1974 fashions still in the closets of the homes.
Three years after the invasion, the scene was described by Swedish
journalist Jan-Olof Bengtsson: "The asphalt on the roads has cracked
in the warm sun and along the sidewalks bushes are growing. Today -
September 1977 - the breakfast tables are still set, the laundry still
hanging and the lamps still burning. Varosha is a ghost town."
The Turks currently at the forefront of the assault against Israel for
its "illegal occupation" of its own Jewish homeland, and for
supposedly mistreating Palestinians, are the very same people who
continue the massive crime against humanity in the form of the
Famagusta ghost town. Born in ethnic cleansing, it is the enduring
testimony to the illegal land grab on Cyprus by Turkey, the mass
expulsion of the ethnic Greek Cypriots from the northern 40 percent of
the island, the theft of their property, and an unknown number of
murders of Greek Cypriots by Turkey.
The illegal "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" is recognized by not
a single country besides Turkey itself. Since its brutal invasion,
Turkey has moved countless thousands of its citizens/troops onto
northern Cyprus. This is the same Turkey that venomously denounces
Israel when it builds "settlements" in the suburbs of Jerusalem for
Jewish civilians on lands they have purchased legally.
Famagusta was first erected in the 13th century BCE. Phoenicians came
and went, as did the Assyrians and Persians. Greek settlers came to
dominate its population. Some Jews migrated in from their homeland,
producing the wine used in the Jerusalem Temple described in the
Talmud, and later learning to manufacture silk.
The Venetians gave the center of Famagusta its defining character,
with its massive defensive bulwarks, gates and towers. Shakespeare's
mythical Othello served as ruler of Famagusta, and the largest
Venetian fortress in the wall is obligingly called Othello's Tower
In 1571 the Ottoman Turks took control, relinquishing control to Great
Britain in 1878. After an armed campaign by Cypriots, the Brits left
in 1958 and Cyprus became a republic. Things were not well, however,
in the inter-communal relations between Cypriot Greeks and Cypriot
Turks. Atrocities were committed by both sides. After a particularly
horrific set of attacks, and partly in response to attempts by some
radical Greek nationalists on the island to seek amalgamation with
Greece, the Turks invaded the island in the summer of 1974.
Within two days they had taken Famagusta. The Turkish air force bombed
the helpless town. The entire Greek population, fearing massacres at
the hands of the invaders, fled south. Meanwhile, Turkish tanks rolled
onward until Turkey had conquered half the Cyprus capital of Nicosia.
There it erected a wall running through the center of the city.
The apartheid wall of occupation does not attract "solidarity"
protesters or leftist professors from the West. They are too busy
denouncing and attacking Israel for building a security fence around
Jerusalem, a fence to keep the Palestinian suicide bombers from
murdering Jewish children. No Rachel Corries go to Nicosia to defy the
Turkish occupation army. They know they would instantly be jailed in a
typically barbaric Turkish prison.
Countless UN resolutions since 1974 have demanded that Turkey leave
the island and restore stolen property to Greek Cypriots. The same
Turkish government that regularly denounces Israel for daring to
defend its civilians from Arab terrorists and for otherwise
disregarding anti-Israel world opinion has never paid those UN
resolutions any mind.
Turkey insists that Palestinians be granted statehood and
"self-determination" while refusing to allow Turkish Kurds, Armenians,
Assyrians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Azeris and others to exercise any of
it, even in the form of limited language autonomy. While Arabs living
in Israel enjoy levels of freedom a hundred times better than do Turks
living in Turkey, the Turkish government continues to denounce Israel
for its alleged suppression of Arab "human rights." On the very day
that Turkey recently murdered 120 Kurds, it denounced Israel for
committing "war crimes."
Respect for human rights in Turkey is notably absent. The Turkish
military police routinely kill civilians. Journalists have been
assassinated. Islamofascism is growing stronger and local Islamic
fundamentalist terrorists filled the Gaza "peace flotilla" sponsored
by Turkey. Those are the terrorists whose suppression by Israel has
now become the focus of Turkey's demand for an Israeli apology.
When Israel invaded Gaza to put a stop to massive rocket attacks
against its civilians by Hamas terrorists, Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel for "massacring innocent women
and children." He accused Israel of "mass murder" in Gaza, ranting at
length about how Israel had turned the Gaza Strip into an "open-air
But, in fact, the largest ongoing "open air" human-rights violation
and crime against humanity is on display for all to see behind the
barbed wire and fences of the ghost town of Famagusta.