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Human rights and fundamental freedoms violations

Systematic destruction of cultural heritage in occupied Cyprus

The ongoing and systematic destruction of  the Greek and Christian  cultural heritage in the occupied area of Cyprus  by Turkey is part of a pre-planned policy aimed at eradicating and destroying every trace of  a culture that dates back thousands of years, and at transforming occupied Cyprus into just another Turkish province, through a systematic process of Turkification. Important archaeological sites in the occupied area of Cyprus have, since 1974, been completely abandoned and left open to the constant risk of looting and destruction.

Illegal excavation is a frequent occurrence in Salamina, Kyrenia, Famagusta and the Karpasian Peninsula. Moreover, at times, the illegal authorities in occupied Cyprus also destroy archaeological sites. A typical example of such destruction was suffered by a Neolithic settlement in the vicinity of Castro, on the Agios Andreas promontory.

The most violent and systematic attack has been suffered by Greek Orthodox churches, which are the most obvious and easily recognizable symbols of the area’s cultural identity. In all, of the 275 churches in occupied Cyprus, 75 have been converted into mosques, 141 have been desecrated, 13 have been converted into storage spaces or livestock pens, 3 into icon museums, and 4  into cultural centres for propaganda purposes  , whilst a further 20 are used by the occupying regime as military depots, barracks, restaurants and military hospitals. Churches throughout occupied Cyprus have been stripped of their contents and converted into mosques (as in the case of the church of Andreas the Apostle in Neapolis), hospitals, night clubs, livestock pens, warehouses and stables. Icons, murals, hagiographic paintings, and precious and unique mosaics have been looted or destroyed. A case in point is the 19th-century church of Agia Anastasia – in occupied Lapithos – which has been converted into a hotel and a Casino.

Last Updated Wednesday, 10 May 2017