Themes

Search

select medium:

search for:

Advanced Search
Media Centers

www.indymedia.org

africa
ambazonia
canarias
estrecho / madiaq
nigeria
south africa

canada
alberta
hamilton
maritimes
montreal
ontario
ottawa
quebec
thunder bay
vancouver
victoria
windsor
winnipeg

east asia
japan
manila
qc

europe
andorra
antwerpen
athens
austria
barcelona
belgium
belgrade
bristol
bulgaria
croatia
cyprus
estrecho / madiaq
euskal herria
galiza
germany
hungary
imc sverige
ireland
istanbul
italy
la plana
liege
lille
madrid
marseille
nantes
netherlands
nice
norway
oost-vlaanderen
paris
poland
portugal
prague
russia
scotland
switzerland
thessaloniki
united kingdom
west vlaanderen

latin america
argentina
bolivia
brasil
chiapas
chile
colombia
ecuador
mexico
peru
puerto rico
qollasuyu
rosario
sonora
tijuana
uruguay

oceania
adelaide
aotearoa
brisbane
jakarta
manila
melbourne
perth
qc
sydney

south asia
india
mumbai

united states
arizona
arkansas
atlanta
austin
baltimore
boston
buffalo
charlottesville
chicago
cleveland
colorado
danbury, ct
dc
hawaii
houston
hudson mohawk
idaho
ithaca
kansas city
la
madison
maine
michigan
milwaukee
minneapolis/st. paul
new hampshire
new jersey
new mexico
new orleans
north carolina
north texas
nyc
oklahoma
philadelphia
pittsburgh
portland
richmond
rochester
rogue valley
san diego
san francisco
san francisco bay area
santa barbara imc
santa cruz, ca
seattle
st louis
tallahassee-red hills
tennessee
urbana-champaign
utah
vermont
western mass

west asia
beirut
israel
palestine

[process]
discussion
fbi/legal updates
indymedia faq
mailing lists
process & imc docs
tech
volunteer

[projects]
oceania
print
radio
satellite tv
video

This site
made manifest by
dadaIMC software

Independent Media Center
Comment on this article | View comments | Email this Feature | Printable version |
 
Commentary: Civil & Human Rights
Slipping Backwards Current rating: 1
15 Jun 2003
How are we to evaluate the words and actions of a regime which has international law on its side, it has every "progressive" and "revolutionary" local party on its side, and yet behaves like a regime of bigots, racists, and apartheid- lovers?
tassosupclosefromleftshoulderXPM101031114.jpg

Slipping Backwards

Rivers of warmth and gentleness have been pouring forth in all directions between our communities in the North and South of our island, with the recent partial lifting of movement restrictions between us - but are we suddenly facing a swamping of the waters?

The widespread tenderness and genuine sentiments of conciliation, which in the recent weeks had characterised our every contact, are now becoming slowly poisoned by the actions and the words of those in power on both sides of the fence.

How are they doing it? It’s easy to discern the crude machinations of racism and genocide. But the difficulty is in being able to see the subtle manifestations of prejudice.

It’s easy to become angry with the lawless regime of militarism in the North for increasing the tension at Strovilia, for harassing the local residents, for the military aircraft violations in the Aegean sea, for the tank movements, for the restrictions of movement imposed on outspoken individuals like Sener Levent and others who openly criticize the illegal authorities.

But what about the illegitimate regime in the South?

How are we to evaluate the words and actions of a regime which has international law on its side, it has every "progressive" and "revolutionary" local party on its side, and yet behaves like a regime of bigots, racists, and apartheid- lovers?

He did it again!

In the middle of the week a few days ago, Tassos Papadopoulos gave an interview in front of television news cameras about the rising tensions surrounding the location of Strovilia. Due to the fact that the level of military and political tension in the area is being artificially increased by the occupation forces, all the "political geniuses" of the Republic are now rushing to the rescue.

In a single tiny word - a word filled with many centuries of meanings and overtones - the President of the Republic revealed the essence of his government’s stance to the problem: he did not say "the occupation forces", he did not say "the occupation regime", he did not say "the military authorities of Turkey", he did not say "the illegal regime in the North" : he said "the Turks". With a tone in his voice which pushes the buttons of the "ethnic- identity radar" instilled by racism within all of us, he said "blah, blah, blah, … what the Turks did in Strovilia".

The Turks, a nation of 40 to 70 million people (depending on how one counts), who live mainly in the country to our north and also here in Cyprus and in many countries elsewhere, are a people whose majority is opposed to militarism, opposed to the invasion and occupation of Cyprus, opposed to the ruling powers who run Turkey, and have been engaged in a difficult, bitter, process of opposition to the regime in Turkey and in Northern Cyprus - the opposition includes activities such as peaceful assemblies, strikes, armed struggle, electoral campaigns, direct action, demonstrations, hunger strikes, and many other forms of expression utilised by the global Liberation Movement, at a great cost and with many courageous sacrifices - all in a single, multi-faceted, many- decades long process of social change aimed at disarming the regime, and bringing Peace to our region. "The Turks", who are identified as hostiles by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, are our best, most numerous, and most crucial allies.

The situation is actually worse when we consider that the phrase used by Tassos Papadopoulos, "the Turks", is the generic term used by racists or unthinking people among the helleno- cypriots, to refer to the turkish- cypriots. The emotional color given to the phrase, depending on how it is said, shaped by voice and context, often serves to throw together all of the turkish-speaking people in one lump, to cast them in a negative light.
What kind of messages does this attitude promote in the South, among the helleno- (greek-) cypriots?

At such a crucial time when our two communities are re-discovering each other, when fear of "the Turk" as invader - or as a barbarian! - is becoming dispelled for the first time in many decades as greeks are becoming re-familiarised with "the Turk" who is a real person, a neighbour, a human being, a member of a community which is composed of families with children and of simple honest working people, comes this thunderbolt from the President, complaining about "…what the Turks did in Strovilia", followed by similar statements on television and in the Press by villagers, by reporters, by members of Parliament.

But is it really that bad? Do statements like this really torpedo the trust between us? Well, on Friday last week, the newspaper of the (unofficial) ruling party, Akel, the "peoples’ party of revolutionary socialism", had a front- page article about the situation in Strovilia with the same phraseology, complaining about the "advances of the Turks". Another article further inside the paper, speaks of "the latest provocations of the Turks".

Are we observing a real phenomenon, is this a dependable way to measure current reality, or is it just a series of "mistakes"? Is it a symptom of something new, or is it just a revelation of how things really have been all along despite the claims of these "progressive" forces?

Is it really so easy for these "champions of socialism" to slip backwards into racism with the first difficulties? Or does it reveal that they really never challenged their own racist inner mechanisms operating from within, just like their President never did?

The simple people of everyday life are easily manipulated by those who control the media and positions of power. All the warmth and friendliness shared between our communities in the recent few weeks are genuine, and they exist because there aren’t any real conflicts between our people based on our ethnic identities. But when those who hold power, either because they have never sat down to think about their own racism (like the "political geniuses" who serve the big capitalists of the South), or because they serve some broader agenda of ethnic cleansing (like the militarists who rule the North), use these emotionally loaded phrases for political gains, we must keep pointing it out among ourselves and to our communities, and we must find ways for the genuine positive sentiments of friendship between our people to be re-affirmed, protected, encouraged, embraced, cultivated in every way possible.

How else will we ever succeed to create a new political atmosphere, an environment in which it will be possible for our people to live and work together again in the same neighborhoods, in the same schools, share the same workplaces, apartment buildings, shoulder together the tasks of community self- organization, and to further promote that sense of unity until it enables us to share together the tasks of community self- government, eventually by-passing and replacing the authoritarian state?


How can the current Government of the Republic continue without embarrassment after those statements, without an apology, and pretend to be representing "all Cypriots", of "all ethnic origins and identities" when its President speaks with such unthinking racist generalizations which poison the image of the people who live in half our country?

In this case, it does not matter that the President is a good person. Or, it matters even more, because a good person in that office should sit down with some advisors and say, "please, I need to clarify some concepts, I need some practice to speak so as to make good clear distinctions between friends and enemies, I need your help to overcome the clouds of confusion and prejudice which have affected all of us in these decades of conflicts and of artificial, enforced separation of our communities - where shall I start?".

Of course, if the President seeks help in this project from the political alliances which got him elected (which are totally committed to authoritarian and racist attitudes), the country is not going to benefit at all because those political forces are lost in the same small- minded backwardness. But we have every right to demand an apology and a correction of attitude from a Government and a Presidency which claims to be progressive and seeks to be the Government of all Cypriots equally.

Add a quick comment
Your name Your email

Comment

Text Format
To add more detailed comments, or to upload files, see the full comment form.

Comments

Re: Slipping Backwards
Current rating: 0
07 Jul 2003
Excellent please go to my website where I have published your article www.lcic.net