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Cyprus' Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril

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Cyprus' Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril

Postby The Cypriot » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:09 pm

HELSINKI COMMISSION HOLDS BRIEFING ON DESTRUCTION OF CYPRUS' CULTURAL HERITAGE

WASHINGTON (July 21st, 2009) - The US Helsinki Commission under the co-chairmanship of Senator Ben Cardin and Representative Alcee Hastings today held a briefing entitled "Cyprus' Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril." Since the Turkish military invasion and continuing occupation of nearly 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, the devastation of the island's heritage has been comprehensive. Churches, chapels, monasteries, libraries, museums, and private collections of religious art and antiquities were looted. Religious and historical sites have been damaged, ravaged or allowed to disintegrate. Dr. Klaus Gallas, Byzantine Expert and Art Historian, Dr. Charalampos G. Chotzakoglou, Professor of Archaeology at the Hellenic Open University, and Ms. Michael Jansen, Correspondent and author of the book "War and Cultural Heritage: Cyprus after the 1974 invasion" testified before the Commission on the findings of their extensive research on the cultural and religious desecration of the Cypriot heritage in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, in view of the release today of the report by the Law Library of Congress entitled "Cyprus: Destruction of cultural property in the northern part of Cyprus and violations of international law" on the destruction of cultural property in the occupied areas.

"An estimated 16,000 icons, wall paintings and mosaics and 60,000 archaeological items have been looted and exported from northern Cyprus. While the Turkish authorities have done little or nothing to halt cultural cleansing and have even contributed to it, individual Turkish Cypriots, who regard the heritage of the island as their own, have castigated the authorities and publicized the pillage", Ms. Jansen emphasized, while Dr. Gallas, who has traveled and researched extensively on the conditions of cultural and religious sites in the Turkish-occupied Cyprus pre and post 1974, continued on the same train of thought: "Art theft in the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus was usually only possible when it was tolerated or happened under the watchful eye of the Turkish military... The loss to Cyprus and to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage is unimaginable. It can be assumed that the amount of booty we are aware of is only a fraction of the material that has actually been stolen from the Orthodox churches of Cyprus."

Dr. Chotzakoglou stated that "around 500 churches and religious sites belonging to the Greek-Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Cyprus, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Holy Monastery of St. Katherine in Sinai, the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic-Armenian Church, the Catholic-Maronite Church, the Jewish community, as well as the Protestant Church, along with their cemeteries have been willfully desecrated, pillaged, looted and destroyed". He added that Christian churches have been converted, inter-alia, into military camps, stables, hotels, theaters, nightclubs and sports clubs, while "the church of the Savior in the Chrysiliou-village is used today as a mortuary".

The Law Library of Congress report, underlines Turkey's legal responsibility "to refrain from acts of hostility and damage against cultural property located in the northern part of Cyprus; to prohibit and prevent theft, pillage, or misappropriation of cultural property; and to establish criminal jurisdiction to prosecute individuals who engage in acts of destruction, desecration, and pillage [...]". Moreover, in the Report's concluding remarks it is stated that "under conventional and customary international law, Turkey, as an occupying power, bears responsibility for acts against cultural property. Responsibility also arises based on legal instruments addressing the illicit export and transfer of ownership of stolen cultural objects from the occupied northern part of Cyprus".

"The important report by the Law Library of Congress and the initiative of the Helsinki Commission shed light on the long-endured destruction and desecration of Cyprus' cultural heritage in the Turkish-occupied area," said Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus, Andreas S. Kakouris. The report details the ongoing plundering of religious sites in the Turkish-occupied northern region of Cyprus, and Turkey's responsibility as the occupying country, a clear violation of international law.
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Postby Oracle » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:31 pm

Good post Cypriot!

Where is Samarkeolog? :?
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Postby shahmaran » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:32 am

Heritage shmeritage!

Can you seriously claim that every single Mosque left down South has been taken care of and in good condition?

I very much doubt it as I am sure I have seen pictures proving otherwise.

Personally speaking, I couldn't give a rats ass if every single Mosque disappears tomorrow from the face of this island, so as much as I try, I just cannot feel any sympathy towards your loss, but I stress that this is just me.

But if your Church are so precious, than surely so must be our Mosques right?
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Postby Get Real! » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:40 am

shahmaran wrote:Heritage shmeritage!

Can you seriously claim that every single Mosque left down South has been taken care of and in good condition?

I very much doubt it as I am sure I have seen pictures proving otherwise.

Personally speaking, I couldn't give a rats ass if every single Mosque disappears tomorrow from the face of this island, so as much as I try, I just cannot feel any sympathy towards your loss, but I stress that this is just me.

But if your Church are so precious, than surely so must be our Mosques right?

Cultural heritage doesn’t just refer to ancient places of worship (buildings) but priceless ancient artifacts… hundreds of them that were ransacked from museums and other places by your people during your infamous looting frenzy!

Ask your dad or grandpa… :wink:
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Postby The Cypriot » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:41 am

shahmaran wrote:Heritage shmeritage!

Can you seriously claim that every single Mosque left down South has been taken care of and in good condition?


No. I'll let others who know more on this issue seriously claim it.

shahmaran wrote:I very much doubt it as I am sure I have seen pictures proving otherwise.


Find them. Post them.

shahmaran wrote:Personally speaking, I couldn't give a rats ass if every single Mosque disappears tomorrow from the face of this island, so as much as I try, I just cannot feel any sympathy towards your loss, but I stress that this is just me.


The loss is not just mine, but to all Cypriots and to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage. You don't recognise the loss to the world just as the world doesn't recognise your pseudo-state in the north.

shahmaran wrote:But if your Church are so precious, than surely so must be our Mosques right?


Right. What do you take me for? A barbarian?
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Postby shahmaran » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:46 am

Well you might not be a "barbarian" Cypriot, but your state seems to be, if that actually makes you a barbarian, not even sure how that works but whatever..
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Postby shahmaran » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:56 am

I am not entirely sure if you have cleverly missed out certain parts of that article Cypriot, or maybe different versions of it has been published in different papers, but here you go, read it carefully;

EXCLUSIVE: Religious artifacts in Cyprus in 'great peril'


Religious artifacts on the divided island of Cyprus are in "great peril," according to a U.S. Helsinki Commission document to be released Tuesday afternoon.

Thousands of Orthodox icons, manuscripts, frescoes and mosaics have been looted from churches, chapels and monasteries in northern Cyprus, ending up on international auction blocks, says the document, the result of a lengthy investigation by the Helsinki Commission and titled "Destruction of Cultural Property in the Northern Part of Cyprus and Violations of International Law."

A copy of the 50-page document was provided to The Washington Times in advance of a Tuesday press briefing and panel discussion on Capitol Hill.

The panelists will include Charalampos Chotzakoglou, professor of Byzantine art and archaeology at Hellenic Open University in Patras, Greece; German art historian Klaus Gallas, who is a specialist on the international smuggling of art artifacts; and Michael Jansen, author of "War and Cultural Heritage: Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish Invasion."

Most of the ruined property belongs to the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, one of the world's oldest national Orthodox churches, with the rest belonging to Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Jewish groups.

Thirty-five years of occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkish forces have ruined "a plethora of archeological and religious sites," says the report, which adds that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been documenting the destruction since 1984.

According to the report:

• 500 Orthodox churches or chapels have been pillaged, demolished or vandalized.

• 133 churches, chapels and monasteries have been desecrated.

• 15,000 paintings have disappeared.

• 77 churches have been turned into mosques, 28 are being used by the Turkish military as hospitals or camps, and 13 have been turned into barns.

A staff member for the Helsinki Commission said a copy of the report had been sent to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, but an embassy spokesman said it had not been received.

"It sounds like a one-sided presentation," said the embassy spokesman, who asked to remain unidentified because he was not authorized to comment on the record.

"There's no input from the Turkish side. There is no coincidence the report is coming out this week because it's the 35th anniversary of the intervention by Turkey. Turkey respects all cultural heritages," the spokesman said.

The Turkish Embassy spokesman pointed out a Nov. 28, 2001, letter from Tahsin Ertugruloglu, foreign affairs minister for the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, that said Greek Cypriots destroyed Muslim shrines and mosques in 103 villages between 1963 and 1974.

The report by the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which monitors compliance with agreements among members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, included this claim by Turkey. But the report also added that Cyprus, which exercises effective control over the southern two-thirds of the island, has spent about $600,000 since 2000 to renovate 17 historic mosques.

According to the report, the 77 churches converted into mosques have texts from the Koran inscribed where icons and paintings used to be; the St. Anastasia monastery is now a hotel with a swimming pool and casino; and the Byzantine-era monastery of Antiphonetes has had its icons and murals removed and sold to art dealers.

Jerome Bowers, a Northern Illinois University associate history professor who recently returned from studying in Cyprus, said in an e-mail that while Greek Orthodox artifacts in Northern Cyprus have been damaged, the stolen goods have been smuggled out of Cyprus mostly through the southern part of the island.

"There can be no denying the fact that the destruction of religious cultural artifacts in the south has also taken place," he wrote. "In Paphos, for example, the Camii Cedit was not only destroyed but replaced with a parking lot, and the square surrounding the location is now called March 9th Square, named for the date of the mosque's destruction."

The Christian church has ancient roots in Cyprus. Visited in A.D. 45 by the apostle Paul along with his co-workers Barnabas and Mark (as recorded in Acts 13:4-12), it was ruled by Byzantine emperors for hundreds of years. It was during this time that the vast majority of churches were built in the region and decorated with brightly colored frescoes and tiled mosaics.

In 1571, the island fell under the control of the Ottoman Turks, and in 1878, the British took over. The native Cypriots are divided into two camps: 80 percent Greek speakers and 18 percent ethnic Turks, with the remaining 2 percent divided among Armenians, Maronites and Latin-rite Catholics.

According to the report, the Greek government, with the help of Cypriot armed forces, forced out Archbishop Makarios, the first democratically elected president of the island, on July 15, 1974.

Turkey invaded five days later, taking over the northern 37 percent of Cyprus, ostensibly to protect Turkish-speaking inhabitants. Several years later, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established, though no country in the world besides Turkey recognizes it. The Greek Cypriot-led Republic of Cyprus claims to be the sole legitimate government of the whole island, a claim every country in the world except Turkey accepts.

The report says there are 660,000 Greek Cypriots living on the island's southern part, 89,000 Turkish speakers in the north and 43,000 Turkish soldiers serving as an occupying force.

Hilmi Akil, the Washington representative for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, dismissed the Helsinki Commission report as "a propaganda exercise," adding that Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders recently agreed to set up a joint committee on cultural heritage matters.

"The theft of cultural artifacts takes place everywhere, including South Cyprus," he said. "What we're objecting to is destruction, which has happened on both sides of the island, is being portrayed as something that only Turkish Cypriots have done."


Copyright 2009 The Washington Times, LLC
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Postby Get Real! » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:03 am

shahmaran wrote:I am not entirely sure if you have cleverly missed out certain parts of that article Cypriot, or maybe different versions of it has been published in different papers, but here you go, read it carefully;

What "ancient artifacts" did the TCs have? :lol:
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Postby shahmaran » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:04 am

Get Real! wrote:
shahmaran wrote:I am not entirely sure if you have cleverly missed out certain parts of that article Cypriot, or maybe different versions of it has been published in different papers, but here you go, read it carefully;

What "ancient artifacts" did the TCs have? :lol:


Depends how many years is considered as "ancient" in the books of the mighty GR :lol:
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Postby shahmaran » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:11 am

Get Real! wrote:
shahmaran wrote:I am not entirely sure if you have cleverly missed out certain parts of that article Cypriot, or maybe different versions of it has been published in different papers, but here you go, read it carefully;

What "ancient artifacts" did the TCs have? :lol:


Actually this is so typically ethnocentric coming from a GC.

If a Turk dies, it's his fault as they were not welcomed 500 years ago anyways, but if a GC dies, it is a tragedy because an "indigenous" Cypriot died.

When a TC mosque collapses, it is OK as it was not even an ancient artifact, but when a shitty GC Church collapses it is a tragedy and a crime against all humanity because it is "world heritage" :lol: :lol:

The level of shameless hypocrisy within you people is absolutely astonishing, how do you sleep at night? :lol:
Last edited by shahmaran on Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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