History

ACTION CYPRUS

AN HEC PROJECT

The Turkish Goal of Taksim

 

PRELUDE TO PARTITION

In Cyprus, during the late 1950s a Turkish Cypriot paramilitary organisation known as Turk Mukavemet Teskilati (TMT) was formed. It was armed and supported by Turkey and it had an extreme pro-partition agenda.

The great difficulty with TMT’s programme was that it required the uprooting of a quarter of a million people - both Greek and Turkish Cypriots - and their removal from their historic and ancestral lands. It is not surprising therefore that it was opposed by the vast majority of the island’s population. It would only have been possible to do this forcibly. The Turkish invasion can therefore be traced back to the formation of TMT and the need to forcibly separate the populations.

TURKISH INCITEMENT

TMT emerged with Ankara’s support as a powerful force, and exercised a crucial influence over the affairs of the Turkish-Cypriot community. One of its founders was Rauf Denktash, the current Turkish Cypriot political spokesman in occupied Cyprus.

The decision to create TMT was taken at the highest levels of the Turkish Menderes Government in Ankara. While facing mounting pressure from public opinion, the Turkish Government decided to use the Cyprus question as a diversion to keep the Turkish military quiet, an ever present factor in Turkish politics: that is how TMT was conceived. TMT fighters were trained, armed and led by a small group of well-disciplined Turkish officers. It established cells in towns and villages throughout Cyprus, and it selected personnel who were to be sent to Turkey for military training. It was also to become the organisational tool through which the geo-political partitionist policy of Turkey was to be enforced in Cyprus. It was a policy which aimed at segregating the Turkish and Greek Cypriots from each other as a prelude to the physical division of the island.

During the course of 1957, TMT pressured the Turkish Cypriots into withdrawing from any co-operative ties they had with the Greek Cypriots and, on the whole, they were successful; this policy later became known as the `from Turk to Turk policy’. Such encouragement was entirely alien to the co-operation and quiet existence which had always prevailed between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, but was necessary to sow the seeds of partition. A similar policy was followed in Istanbul, organised by the Turkish National Student Federation, which had worked closely with Kibris Turktur in its planning of the anti-Greek riots there back in 1955.

In Cyprus this crude policy of enforced segregation did not go unopposed amongst the Turkish Cypriots. TMT’s answer to criticism was however rapid and brutal. It assassinated prominent Turkish Cypriots who dared to publicly voice opposition or advocated co-operation between Greeks and Turks. The most widely known such murders were those of Fazil Ondur, the chief editor of the weekly newspaper Inkilapci, who was killed on 29 May 1959; and Ahmet Yahaya, a committee member of the Turkish Cypriot Athletic and Culture centre, who was killed on 5 June 1958. An attempt was also made on the life of Arif Barudi on 3 July 1958, and another one on Ahmet Sadi, the director of the Turkish office of the Pancypriot Labour Federation who, soon after the attempt against his life, left Cyprus to settle in England. The same policy continues today with the assassination in July 1996 of Kutlu Adali, the Turkish Cypriot journalist, who had the courage to condemn the partitionist project of the Turkish military establishment which leads the foreign policy of Ankara, and who advocated closer co-operation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

A TMT fighterTMT’s strategy was one of incitement in the hope of provoking inter-ethnic conflict with the aim of securing the separation of the two communities. It did so without any consideration to likely casualties amongst innocent Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The first such serious inter-communal fighting began in June 1958 and was the result of such incitement which the Turkish authorities have subsequently been candid on a number of occasions. Mr Emin Dirvana, a former Turkish diplomat, said: `I was informed that on 7 June 1958 a bomb had been planted in the Turkish press office in Nicosia by persons who, as was later established, had nothing to do with the Greek Cypriots. The Turks of Nicosia were then incited to be overwhelmed by holy indignation and perpetrated acts similar to those committed on 6 and 7 September 1955 in Istanbul.’

In the ITN documentary `Cyprus, Britain’s Grim Legacy’ the account continues:

`The explosion sparked off a night of riot in Nicosia. Turkish Cypriots burned and looted Greek shops and homes. Soon came counter attacks and the fighting spread around the island. A friend of mine, whose name must still be kept secret, was to confess to me that he had put this little bomb in the doorway in order to create an atmosphere of tension so that people would know that the Turkish Cypriots mattered.’

In fact, nobody had ever claimed that the Turkish Cypriots did not matter. This reveals the essence of the matter, that the Turkish Cypriot leadership, first in Ottoman times and then during the British administration, had always occupied a position of political privilege as an ally of the occupying power. These privileges were not something the leadership were willing to give up. During early British rule, the alliance with the Turkish minority became clear in the legislative council. It worked on the principle that the British and Turkish members at least equalled or outnumbered by one vote the Greeks.

Turkish Cypriots employed in the British security forcesThe tactics of TMT, to provoke ethnic conflict when none would otherwise have arisen, were soon to be successful. On 12 June 1958, following the press office bomb explosion, British security forces rounded up eight Greek Cypriots from the village of Kondemenos and subsequently released them near the Turkish Cypriot village of Guenyeli, approximately seven miles from where they were arrested, and a good distance from the nearest Greek villages; the released Greek Cypriots were subsequently massacred by Turkish Cypriots acting on the orders of TMT. These were the first reported inter-communal killings. These killings were carried out in the certain knowledge that Greek Cypriots would also carry out revenge attacks.

Turkey rushed to put forward a formal protest to Britain the day following the press office bomb, alleging that the Cyprus administration had failed to give the Turkish minority adequate protection. `Cyprus, partition or death, was the slogan constantly repeated by Turkish leaders and the armed paramilitaries. The claim was that Turkish Cypriots could not think of themselves as being integrated into Cypriot society. The fact that they already were, necessitated a strategy of tension and forced separation.

The principle of partition was not based on the realities of Cypriot society at the time, but on Turkey’s perceived security requirements alone. In the Summer of 1958, in the mixed suburb of Omorphita in Nicosia, TMT evicted 700 Greeks from their homes. By the end of July 1958 a much clearer line had been drawn between the Greek and Turkish quarters. The reluctance of British authorities to deal even-handedly with the violence became clearer when the partisan decisions made by the Courts at the time is taken into account. Whereas Turks arrested for participating in the riots were released, Greeks received custodial sentences for minor offences.

The British security forcesSixteen Turks were, for example, arrested by the British authorities for complicity in the Nicosia riots, but they were released on condition that they stayed in at night. A Turkish policeman, sergeant Tuna, was charged with possessing a bomb and ammunition for which the mandatory penalty was clearly the death penalty. He was released and left immediately for Turkey. The only official piece of evidence that Turkish policeman were involved in bomb attacks had conveniently `disappeared’. By contrast, two Greeks who pulled down a Union Jack were each given 18 months prison sentences, whilst those subsequently involved with the possession of fire arms were hanged. In hindsight, it is hardly surprising that Greek Cypriots saw a conspiracy against their struggle for self-determination from British and Turkish Cypriot sources.

British security forces keeping the peaceThe riots in Nicosia caused by the bomb in the Turkish press office, resulted in the deaths of 56 Greek and 53 Turkish Cypriots. The higher number of Greek casualties demonstrates that the Turkish Cypriots (who of course were outnumbered in Cyprus 5:1 by Greek Cypriots) had, on the orders of TMT, pre-arranged strongholds and were thus able to fight from a much stronger position than their numerical inferiority would suggest. Clearly, by the end of 1958 the Greek Cypriot demand for self-determination was still unacceptable to both Britain and Turkey, although a new compromise needed to be worked out.

London-Zurich agreementsThe London-Zurich agreements of 1959 finally set up the Republic of Cyprus with Archbishop Makarios III being duly elected its first President, and Dr Fazil Kutcuk its Turkish Cypriot Vice President, by their respective communities in December 1959. The Republic of Cyprus officially came into being on 16 August 1960.

Under the terms of the 1960 constitution, there was to be a fixed ratio of 70 Greek Cypriot employees for every 30 Turkish Cypriots employed by government agencies. The Turkish Cypriot leadership demanded that this parity of employment be attained within five months of independence. The public service commission pointed to the numerous difficulties of drawing 30% of the civil service including the police force from just 18% of the population. As a result, numerous posts remained unfulfilled in the search for suitably qualified Turkish Cypriot candidates.

Since a majority vote of the Turkish Cypriot deputies in the house was needed to pass tax legislation, the Turkish Cypriots used it as a bargaining tool to force compliance over the 70:30 ratio and various other issues which had as their objective the continued segregation of the two ethnic groups. For example, colonial laws had to be extended eight times while both communities discussed legislation relating to separate municipalities. This provision had been the greatest victory for Turkey in this settlement. The President offered the Turks compensating safeguards, but was not prepared to implement provisions which opened the way to partition. Deadlock inevitably resulted again and again in a number of other areas.

Already by the end of the 1961 the Turkish language press was calling for intervention by the powers, meaning the UK and the US. In essence, there was a fundamental belief on the part of the Turkish Cypriots in the eventual intervention of Turkey to establish the partition of Cyprus. This belief underpinned their unco-operative attitude towards the Greek Cypriots and, not surprisingly, created the cycle of mistrust amongst Turkish Cypriots which culminated in the crisis of 1963. Indeed, one of the starkest indications of the Turkish Cypriot mistrust were the brutal political murders of Ayhan Hikmet and Ahmet Gurkhan in 1962 by TMT. Both Hikmet and Gurkhan were publishers who advocated closer association and co-operation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. TMT was again in action to ensure that the genuine voice of the Turkish Cypriots was silenced, and this applied not only to journalists and publishers, but to many political activists and ordinary people too.

The Story Continued

Taksim Part 1: The 1950's - Terror campaign launched against Greeks

Taksim Part 2: The early 60's - Turkey provokes clashes and attempts to invade

Taksim Part 3: The late 60's - Turkey seizes strategic positions

Taksim Part 4: The Turkish invasion of 1974

American Duplicity Part 1: How America created the Greek junta

American Duplicity Part 2: Cyprus sacrificed for American spy bases

American Duplicity Part 3: A nation betrayed

American Duplicity Part 4: The CIA files

American Duplicity Part 5: Kissinger illegally abetted Turkish invasion

American Duplicity Part 6: US connived to facilitate Turkey

British Treason Part 1: How Britain masterminded Cyprus partition

British Treason Part 2: How Britain sabotaged a bi-communal agreement

British Treason Part 3: Turkish terrorists were armed by Britain

British Treason Part 4: The MI6 files

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.

2001/2002 HEC and Argyros Argyrou. Updated on 8 September 2002.