Justice

ACTION CYPRUS

AN HEC PROJECT

Justice for Cyprus

 

First Report of the European Commission of Human Rights

Turkey's invasion in Cyprus and aftermath

(20 JULY 1974 - 18 MAY 1976)

Part of the Introduction

After overruling Turkey's objection the Commission of Human Rights considered: "the evidence before the Commission and the facts established on the basis of this evidence cannot be seen as presenting a view of the events and incidents complained of mainly from the Greek Cypriot side. The Commission observes in this connection that: - certain events and incidents referred to in the applications are in great part a matter of public knowledge. In particular, the massive movement of population from the northern to the southern part of Cyprus after 20 July, 1974 is an indisputable fact which, as such, calls for no particular investigation; the Commission has based its findings in part on reports of other international organizations, in particular the United Nations; - the witnesses heard by the Commission's Delegation in Cyprus testified, with little exception, with a restraint and objectivity that gave credibility to their testimony; some of them confirmed a number of statements in the Particulars of the Applications about which they could not have had any direct knowledge; - in the evaluation of the evidence before it, the Commission has refrained from drawing any conclusions from the fact that the respondent Government, despite every opportunity being offered to them, failed to make any statements, or to proposed counterevidence on the applicant Government's allegations". (Report, p.31)


Here are the Contents:

 


Killings

Relevant Article of the European Convention on Human Rights:

" Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally." (Article 2)

Charge laid against Turkey:

The Turkish Army embarked upon a systematic course of mass murders of civilians unconnected with any war activity, including women and babies in arms, and soldiers who had surrendered.

Turkish defense:

No answer was given to these charges. Turkey boycotted the Commission's proceedings once her jurisdictional objection was rejected.

Commission's verdict:

By 14 votes to 1 the Commission, after examining a number of killings at specific places, held that the evidence before it constituted "strong indications of killings committed on a substantial scale" (para.346). The Commission concluded: " In view of the very detailed material before it on other killings alleged by the applicant Government, the Commission, by fourteen votes against one, concludes from the whole evidence that killings happened on a larger scale than in Elia. There is nothing to show that any of these deprivations of life were justified... " (Report, p.165)

Further relevant facts:

Greek National Guardsmen and civilians were killed in the field and in bombing raids on civilian targets, including hospitals. In these raids the Turkish Air Force used napalm. These killings were not the subject of the application to the European Commission on Human Rights, being rather breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

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Displacement of persons (Creating refugees)

Relevant Article of the European Convention on Human Rights:

" Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life and his home..." (Article 8)

Charge laid against Turkey:

The Turkish Army displaced 200,000 Greek Cypriots (more than one third of the population) from their homes. This was effected partly by physical expulsion and partly by a systematic campaign of terror, causing Greek Cypriots to flee in the face of Turkey's advancing armed forces. Refugees and expellees were not permitted by the Turkish Army to return to their homes in the Turkish occupied area.

Turkish defense:

No answer was given to these charges. Turkey boycotted the Commission's proceedings once her jurisdictional objection was rejected.

Commission's Verdict:

" Displacement of persons:

1. The Commission concludes by thirteen votes against one that, by the refusal to allow the return of more than 170,000 Greek Cypriot refugees to their homes in the north of Cyprus, Turkey violated, and was continuing to violate Art. 8 of the Convention in all these cases. When hostilities ended some Greek Cypriots were able to return to their homes near the cease-fire lines in areas under UN or Government control thus reducing the number of refugees to 170,000.

2. The Commission concludes by twelve votes against one that, by the eviction of Greek Cypriots from houses, including their homes, by their transportation to other places within the north of Cyprus, or by their deportation across the demarcation line, Turkey has equally violated Art. 8 of the Convention.

3. The Commission concludes by thirteen votes against one that by the refusal to allow the return to their homes in the north of Cyprus of several thousand Greek Cypriots who had been transferred to the south under inter-communal agreements, Turkey violated, and was continuing to violate Art. 8 of the Convention in all these cases.

4. The Commission concludes by fourteen votes against one with one abstention that, by the separation of Greek Cypriot families brought about by measures of displacement in a substantial number of cases, Turkey has again violated Art.8 of the Convention." (Report, p.163).

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Deprivation of liberty

Relevant Article of the European Convention on Human Rights:

" No one shall be deprived of his liberty.." (Article 5)

Charge laid against Turkey:

The Turkish armed forces detained thousands of persons arbitrarily and without lawful authority. On entering any inhabited area they immediately rounded up all Greek Cypriot inhabitants (many women & children were hiding in their homes). On capture men were separated and detained apart from old people, women and children, who were either put in "concentration camps" or expelled. On the hundreds kept in such camps small babies to old people of 90 were crowded together under atrocious conditions without sanitary facilities at the height of summertime, when temperatures reach over 40 o C. The worst such "concentration camps" were Voni, Marathovouno, Vitsada and Gypsou. In addition, Turkish authorities held some 3,000 inhabitants of the Kyrenia district in the Kyrenia Dome Hotel & in Bellapais village. Many male Greek Cypriots were temporarily sent as "prisoners of war" to places like Saray Prison & Pavlides Garage in the Turkish part of Nicosia, later being transported to Turkey and detained in prisons in Adana, Amasia and Atiama. It is notable that the great majority of those shipped to Turkey were civilians of all ages between 17 and 70. Article 49.1 of the Geneva Convention, 1949, Fourth Schedule, provides that: "individual or mass forcible transfers,as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not are prohibited, regardless of their motive." The transfer of civilians to Turkey show the contempt exhibited by the Turkish Army for the principles of international law. Turkey has never provided complete lists of detainees and the fate of about 3,000 Greek Cypriots was unknown at the time of the first applications to the Commission. Because evidence showed numbers of these missing persons had been in custody in Turkey the Commission was asked to investigate whether they were still imprisoned there.

Turkish defense:

No answer was given to these charges. Turkey boycotted the Commission's proceedings once her jurisdictional objection was rejected.

Commission's Verdict:

" Detention centers:

1. The Commission,by thirteen votes against one, concludes that, by the confinement of more than two thousand Greek Cypriots to detention centres established in schools and churches at Voni, Gypsou and Morphou, Turkey has violated Art.5(1) of the Convention.

2. The Commission by thirteen votes against one, further concludes that, by the confinement of Greek Cypriots to private houses in Gypsou and Morphou, where they kept under similar circumstances as in the detention centres, Turkey has equally violated Art.5(1).

3. The Commission, by ten votes against two with two abstentions, finally concludes that, by the CONFINEMENT of Greek Cypriots to the Kyrenia Dome Hotel after 14 August 1974, Turkey has again violated Art.5(1).

Prisoners and detainees:

1. The Commission, by thirteen votes against one, concludes that the detention of Greek Cypriot military personnel in Turkey was not in conformity with Art.5(1) of the Convention.

2. The Commission, by thirteen votes against one, concluded that the DETENTION of Greek Cypriot civilians IN Turkey was equally not in conformity with Art.5.(1)" (Report, p.164). Evidence on missing persons: The evidence before the Commission does not allow a definite finding with regard to the fate of Greek Cypriots declared to be missing. This is partly due to the fact that the Commission's Delegation was refused access to the northern/occupied/part of Cyprus and to places in Turkey where Greek Cypriot prisoners were or had been detained. In the present Report the Commission is only concerned with the fate of persons declared to be missing as from the beginning of the military action of Turkey on 20 July 1974. It is not concerned with any person missing due to the coup d'etat which on 15 July 1974 preceded the above action... It appears, however, from the evidence that: it is widely accepted that "a considerable number of Cypriots" are still " missing as a result of armed conflict in Cyprus" i.e. between Turkey and Cyprus; a number of persons declared to be missing have been identified as Greek Cypriots taken prisoner by the Turkish army. The Commission considers that there is a presumption of Turkish responsibility for the fate of persons shown to have been in Turkish custody. However,on the basis of the material before it, the Commission has been unable to ascertain whether, and under what circumstances, Greek Cypriot prisoners declared to be missing have been deprived of their life" (Report, paras. 347-349, and 351)

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Mass rapes

Relevant Article of the European Convention an Human Rights:

" No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment..." (Article 3)

Charge laid against Turkey:

Turkish troops were responsible for wholesale and repeated rapes of women of ALL AGES from 12 to 71, sometimes to such an extent that the victims suffered haemorrages or became mental wrecks. In some areas, enforced prostitution was practiced, all women and girls of a village been collected and put into separate rooms in empty houses where they were raped repeatedly. In certain cases members of the same family were repeatedly raped, some of them in front of their own children. In other cases women were brutally raped in public. Rapes were on many occasions accompanied by brutalities such as violent biting of the victims causing severe wounding, banging their heads on the floor and wringing their throats almost to the point OF suffocation. In some cases attempts at rape were followed by the stabbing or killing of the victims. Victims included pregnant and mentally retarted women.

Turkey's defense:

No answer was given to these charges and Turkey boycotted the Commission's proceedings once her jurisdictional objection was rejected.

Commission's verdict:

" The evidence shows that rapes were committed by Turkish soldiers and at least in two cases even by Turkish officers, and this NOT ONLY in some isolated cases of indiscipline. It has not been shown that the Turkish authorities took adequate measures to prevent this happening or that they generally took any disciplinary measures following such incidents. The Commission therefore considers that the non-prevention of the said acts is imputable to Turkey under the Convention.

The Commission, by 12 Votes against one, finds that the incidents of rape described in the above cases and regarded as established constitute "inhuman treatment" in the sense of Art.3 of the Convention, which is imputable to Turkey" (Report, paras. 373-4)

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Torture and inhuman treatment

Relevant Article of the European Convention on Human Rights:

" No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment..." (Article 3)

Charges laid against Turkey:

Hundreds of persons, including children, women and elderly people, were the victims of systematic torture and SAVAGE and humiliating treatment during their detention by the Turkish army. They were beaten; sometimes to the extent of being incapacitated. Many were subjected to tortures such as whipping, breaking of the teeth, knocking their heads on the wall, beating with electrified clubs, extinction of cigarettes on their skin, jumping and stepping on their chest and hands, pouring dirty liquids on them, piercing them with bayonets etc. Many of these detainees were ill-treated to such an extent that they became mental and physical wrecks. Among the persons so treated were those deported to and imprisoned in Turkey (of whom most were civilians). During their transportation and detention they were savagely ill-treated, being wounded, beaten, kicked, whipped, blindfolded, handfettered punched to the extent of bleeding, etc. These brutalities reached their climax after the cease fire agreements and resolutions of the U. N. Security Council calling for an end to hostilities. In fact most of these acts were committed when Turkish armed forces were not engaged in any war activities. More than 1,000 statements obtained from witnesses described their ill-treatment. Such statements showed a pattern of behaviour by the Turkish forces, proving that the atrocities were deliberate tactics which the invading forces were to follow. The aim was to terrorise, destroy and eradicate the Greek population of the Turkish occupied area so that it would be vacant to move in Turks, thus creating an area populated virtually only by Turks.

Turkey's defense:

No answer was given to these charges and Turkey boycotted the Commission's proceedings once her jurisdictional objection was rejected.

Commission's verdict:

" The Commission by twelve votes against one,concludes that prisoners were in a number of cases physically ill-treated by injuries and at least in one case the death of the victim. By their severity they constitute "inhuman treatment" and thus violations of Art.3, for which Turkey is responsible under the Convention.

The Commission by twelve votes against one, concluded that the withholding of an adequate supply of food and drinking water and of adequate medical treatment from Greek Cypriot prisoners held at Adana and detainees in the northern area of Cyprus, with the exception of Pavlides Garage & Saray prison, again constitutes, in the cases considered as established and in the conditions described, "inhuman treatment" and thus a violation of Art.3, for which Turkey is responsible under the Convention" (Report, pp.165-166) The Commission did not find sufficient evidence that prisoners held in these two locations in the Turkish sector of Nicosia were guarded by Turkish soldiers - as opposed to Turkish-officered Turkish Cypriot "forces" (para. 308)

"The evidence obtained established that, in a considerable number of cases prisoners were severely beaten or otherwise physically ill-treated by Turkish soldiers" (Report, para.393) The Commission, by twelve votes against one,concludes that the written statements submitted by the applicant Government constitute indications of ill-treatment by Turkish soldiers of persons not in detention" (Report, p.166)

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Deprivation of possessions, looting and wanton destruction

Relevant Article of the European Convention on Human Rights:

"Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions..." (Article 1 of Protocol No.1)

Charge laid against Turkey:

Greek Cypriots were deprived of their possessions either by eviction or by seizure of movable property and its subsequent removal by Turkish soldiers, or by conditions making abandonment of home and property the only wise course as life and limb were at risk from the Turkish army. When privately owned land & houses belonging to Greek Cypriots in the Turkish occupied areas came under Turkey's control,most of this was distributed to Turkish Cypriots and to Turks brought from Turkey to settle in those areas. To preclude any Greek Cypriots from reclaiming their possessions,Turkish authorities forcibly prevented their return and continued to expel most remaining Greek Cypriots. In various official statements the Turkish Government made it clear that Turkey was organizing marketing of all agricultural production in the occupied area. The same applied to tourism and Turkey took over all Greek Cypriot manufacturing industry. Goods already manufactured & agricultural produce ready for marketing were shipped abroad in Turkish vessels. In addition, the Turkish Army systematically looted houses and business premises belonging to Greek Cypriots. Even properties of those Greek Cypriots who had remained in the Turkish occupied army part not escape this fate. Most loot was loaded into Turkish army vehicles & buses seized from Greek Cypriots, and a substantial part, including vehicles, animals, household goods,and building equipment, was transported by Turkish naval vessels to the mainland. The Turkish Army also engaged in wanton destruction. Turkish soldiers attempted to burn down all buildings along "the green line" in Nicosia, and orchards and crops belonging to Greek Cypriots were set on fire after cessation of hostilities. Witnesses also described breaking of doors and windows of houses, the smashing of furniture icons, candles and other church property and killing of animals. The destruction of Christian & Hellenic monuments was a significant feature of Turkey's occupation. Religious property was a particular target in an attempt to destroy the cultural identity of the occupied area. Not only were religious items & church equipment smashed, set on fire or looted, but most Greek Orthodox churches not converted into mosques were vandalized. Mosaics and even frescos were either defaced or removed. This occurred in military zones under control of the Turkish Army and from which Turkish Cypriots were excluded. Even archaeological museums and sites did not escape vandalisation and initial looting.

Turkey's defense:

No answer was given to these charges and Turkey boycotted the Commission's proceedings once her jurisdictional objection was rejected.

Commission's verdict:

"The Commission accepted that the 170,000 Greek Cypriots displaced from the occupied area had left behind their movable & immovable possessions and referred to "the established fact that these displaced persons are not allowed to return to their homes in the north, and thus to property left there" (Report para.471)

The Commission went on to find "proof of taking and occupation of houses and land by Turkish Cypriots and Turks from the mainland, both military personnel and civilians" (Report para. 472) Moreover the Commission accepted " testimony as proving beyond reasonable doubt that looting and robbery on an extensive scale by Turkish troops and Turkish Cypriots have taken place... As regards such deprivations of possessions by Turkish Cypriots, the Commission considers that, insofar as the persons committing them were acting under the direct order or authority of the Turkish forces of which there is evidence, the deprivation must equally be imputed to Turkey under the Convention..."

The Commission, by 12 votes against one, finds it established that there has been deprivation of possesions of Greek Cypriots on a large scale, the exact extent of which could not be determined. This deprivation must be imputed to Turkey under the Convention and it has not been shown that any of these interferences were necessary for any of the purposes mentioned in Article 1 of Protocol No.1" (Report, paras 472-486)

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Discrimination

Relevant Article of the European Convention on Human Rights:

"The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such... as race, ... language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority... or other status" (Article 14)

Charge laid against Turkey:

The acts of the Turkish Army were exclusively directed against the Greek Cypriot community with the object of destroying and, eradicating the Greek population of the Turkish occupied area so as to move therein Turks, thereby artificially creating a Turkish populated area. All Turkey's atrocities were directed against Greek Cypriots (though some foreign subjects who happened to be or have property in the Turkish occupied area were also affected by some such acts e.g. looting and wanton destruction of property).

Turkish defense:

No answer was given to these charges and Turkey boycotted the Commissions proceedings once her jurisdictional objection had been rejected.

Commission's Verdict:

" The Commission has found violations of a number of Articles of the Convention. It notes that the acts violating the Convention were exclusively directed against members of one of the two communities in Cyprus, namely the Greek Cypriot community. The Commission concludes by eleven votes to three that Turkey has thus failed to secure the rights and freedoms set forth in these Articles without discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, race and religion as required by Art.14 of the Convention (Report, para. 503)

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No remedy

Relevant Article of the European Convention on Human Rights:

" Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy..." (Article 13)

Charge laid against Turkey:

None of the victims of the ruthless and evil deeds by Turkish State organs and her Armed Forces was ever given any opportunity to vindicate his rights before an authority or tribunal as provided by Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention. Persons under Turkish control were not even permitted to talk without Turkish supervision to the International Red Cross. In short, no effective remedy of any kind was afforded either in the Turkish occupied area or in Turkey itself in respect of Turkish atrocities.

Turkish defense:

In its jurisdictional objection, Turkey argued that remedies were availale before the competent judicial authorities in Turkey or before the military courts of the Turkish forces in Cyprus.

Commission's findings:

The Commission held that such remedies had not been shown to be "practicable and normally functioning". Nor had it been established that such complaints could be effectively handled. (Admissibility Report, at p. 22 of the Report). The Commission at the hearing on the merits reiterated that it had found no evidence that effective and suficient remedies were available. (Report, paras. 499-501)

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Prepared by Constantinos A. Constantinides for Diaspora. Based on a publication issued by the Cyprus Bar Association P.1/1995-5000 P.O. Box 1446, Nicosia Cyprus ISBN 9963-38-112-X

A grieving mother holding photos of her missing son.
1600+ men, women and children still missing

Greek Cypriots taken prisoner and transported to Turkey.
up to 70,000 held hostage in concentration camps

A Greek Cypriot napalmed by the Turkish air-force.
5000+ massacred

Greek Cypriots subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment.
thousands raped and tortured
200,000 ethnically cleansed

Christian gave stones smashed by the Turks.
500+ churches desecrated or destroyed

The murder of Tasos Isaac.
murders of refugees continue to this day

The murder of Solomos Solomou.

2001/2005 HEC and Argyros Argyrou. Updated on 12 October 2005.