Thursday 28 July 2022

The Turkish Cypriots who are paying the price of speaking out against Ankara

Observers draw attention to the fact that all seven Turkish Cypriots, who were deported, are intellectuals or opinion leaders who advocate a federal solution in Cyprus

By Esra Aygin

A seventh Turkish Cypriot has been denied entry into Turkey in an unprecedented practice that has seen intellectuals, writers and journalists sent back to Cyprus from Turkish airports on the grounds that they pose a threat to Turkey’s “national security.”

Turkish Cypriot academician, writer and politician Abdullah Korkmazhan, the Secretary-General of Sol Hareket (Left Movement) was traveling to Ankara earlier this week, with other members of the movement to hold talks with several Turkish political parties and civil society organisations. On his arrival at the Ankara Esenboğa Airport, he was told that he was not allowed to enter Turkey because of his “activities against national security of the Turkish Republic” and was deported to Cyprus.

“We are fighting so that our country does not become a colony and they are scared of this,” said Korkmazhan. “They are scared of people who talk, who think. This list is a result of a policy. AKP is telling the Turkish Cypriot community ‘You will accept, you will obey, you will not talk, or you can’t enter Turkey.’”

Korkmazhan said he would press charges.

Before Korkmazhan, six other Turkish Cypriots, including medical doctor and peace activist Okan Dağlı and President Ali Kişmir of the Journalists Union BASIN-SEN were denied entry into Turkey on grounds that they are a “threat to national security” or committed “acts against the Turkish Republic” coded as G-82 on the official form they were handed.

Observers draw attention to the fact that all seven Turkish Cypriots, who were deported, are intellectuals or opinion leaders who advocate a federal solution in Cyprus and criticise AKP’s policies. It is believed that a large number of Turkish Cypriots are included in this list of individuals banned from entry into Turkey. However, it has not been possible to find out exactly who is on this list. Appeals to the Turkish embassy in the north of Nicosia and the Turkish Cypriot ruling coalition in this regard have proven to be in vain.

In a written response to Republican Turkish Party CTP deputy Asım Akansoy’s question on the bans, the Turkish Cypriot department responsible for the foreign affairs dossier, stated a few months ago that: “States do not have the obligation to share with us decisions and justifications of entry bans they take due to activities against their security.”

In a similar vein, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu back in November 2021, in response to a question by opposition parliamentarians on why some Turkish Cypriots were banned from entering Turkey had said: “Decisions about foreigners entering the country are within the sovereign powers of each state.”

On the other hand, Erhan Arıklı of the Rebirth Party – also known as the settler party – which is a junior coalition partner in the northern part of Cyprus, gave a hint of the reasoning behind the ban earlier this week.

“Do you expect Turkey to accept the fact that some people insult it every day?” said Arıklı in the assembly. “Is this possible? Those who (insult) should know the consequences. No state can tolerate for long, people, who make such statements against it.”

In February, Dağlı of the Famagusta Initiative and UniteCyprusNow, who is also a former deputy from CTP, was denied entry to Turkey. Dağlı had travelled to the İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport with a Turkish Cypriot diplomatic passport.

“I was told I am involved in acts against Turkey’s security,” Dağlı explained. “If defending peace and a federal solution in Cyprus, opposing human rights violations, and advocating more democracy and justice are acts against Turkey’s security, then I will not stop doing these.”

Turkey’s new practice against a certain segment of Turkish Cypriots, has indeed intimidated many, who avoid going to Turkey or using the Turkish airports even in transit.

“Progressive Turkish Cypriot peace activists are paying the price of speaking out against Turkey’s policies on Cyprus,” said Social Democracy Part TKP head Mine Atli. “The AKP regime’s efforts to silence progressive Turkish Cypriots will be fruitless. We will continue to voice the human rights violations it is committing and struggle for a bi-communal bi-zonal federal Cyprus.”

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