(Palestine and Cyprus: A Story of Peoples’ Fraternity) *Contribution to the journal of “The Palestinian Liberation Struggle” published on 29th November 2022 on the occasion of Palestine Solidarity Day
29.11.2022 – The Union of Cypriots sees Cyprus and Palestine as two countries where imperialism has taken root in the heart of Western Asia. As long as these two national and colonial issues, which can be compared in different contexts, are not resolved, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sectarianism and Zionism will spread like cancer in the demands of the peoples of the region for peace, equality, brotherhood, bread and freedom.
Cyprus and Palestine, both two neighbors from the sea and two former Ottoman and British colonies, lived through intertwined processes of division and occupation. The story of Palestine began in 1917 when British colonialists “promised” the land of Palestine to the Zionists. The story of Cyprus began in 1878 when the Ottomans leased Cyprus to the British.
From the 1920s onwards, the British imperialism had the Zionists set up paramilitary gangs such as Haganah, Igun, Lehi and Stern in order to implement the partition policy in Palestine. In 1947, Britain revealed the partition plan of Palestine. Similar parallelism emerges with the paramilitary war and the coup process carried out within the framework of the NATO concept in Cyprus.
On October 23, 1936, the British colonial governor, Richmond Palmer, wrote in his report to London:
“In order to have ease in the future on the island, we have to continue the administration on the basis of exceptis excipiendis (opening the way to exceptions), on the basis of districts. Thus the concept of Cypriot nationalism -which will be emerging as a new concept after Enosis becomes an eroded value- should be pushed away as much as possible and left in the dark”.
The date is 1936, the British colonial governor says, “Cypriot nationalism will rise”. In order to continue the British existence on the island, he recommends preventing the development of the Cypriot consciousness and the integration of societies as much as possible. He states that this “divide and rule” strategy can be made on the basis of “regionalism”. The process that the British colonial governor called “regionalism” in 1936 started with paramilitary terrorism after 1963 and was given its final shape after 1974. After 1974, the settler colonialism became another common problem in Palestine and Cyprus.
The “divide and rule” policy in Cyprus after 1955 is the same as the British method used against the 1936-39 uprising in Palestine. This is how the conditions for the 1947-48 partition and occupation in Palestine and the 1974 partition and occupation in Cyprus were created. As a result, the 1947-48 war in Palestine and the 1974 occupation of Cyprus reached the same place. “Israel” and “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” are two pirate structures established on lands belonging to others.
In 1948, 700,000 Palestinians were displaced. In 1974, 165,000 Greek and 45,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced. Since there was no population to fill the occupied Palestinian lands, Israel brought Jews from all over the world as settlers to the occupied Palestine. Since there was no population to fill the occupied Cyprus lands, Turkey also moved primarily the Turkish-Islamic population from Anatolia as settlers to the occupied Cyprus. Here we come across the issue of settlement, which is the most important pillar of settler colonialism.
The Union of Cypriots defines Turkish colonialism in Cyprus and Zionist colonialism in Palestine as twin brothers. Israel and Turkey stand at the same point in terms of the colonization methods they have applied, the “problem” they have created in the context of negotiating at the United Nations table and the “red lines” they have put forward.
The spiral of insolvency, which started with Cyprus’s Beirut talks in 1968 and reached its peak with the Annan Plan in the early 2000s, extends to negotiation processes such as Camp David and Oslo, which turned into treason in Palestine. The purpose of the negotiations carried out by the UN in Cyprus and Palestine is the same: to legitimize the occupation and impose it on the Cypriots and Palestinians. At the end of the day, Turkey and Israel use the same strategy in Cyprus and Palestine in order to gain time for their goals of complete occupations. The name of that strategy is the propaganda of the “two-state solution”.
The most important issue that Turkey and Israel did not agree to discuss in the negotiations, and which created Cyprus and Palestine problems with their settler colonialism, is the right of return of the refugees, who were expelled from their homes and lands at gunpoint and whose property was confiscated by the laws enacted by the occupation regime.
Today, there are case files in the International Criminal Court in The Hague against Turkey and Israel for the same war crimes. As the perpetrators of what happened in Cyprus after 1974 and in Palestine after 1948, the crimes committed by Turkey and Israel against humanity are the same. These war crimes make them brothers. The problem they created with settler colonialism and the so-called “two-state solution” they produced to the problem they created is the same.
In this context, the Union of Cypriots sees the one-state solution as the only anti-imperialist option for Palestine, Cyprus, and their peoples.
Cyprus for Cypriots! Palestine for Palestinians!
Union of Cypriots
(Photo: “Occupier Twins” poster from The Liberation Graphics Collection of Palestine Posters – Nominated to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program 2016-2017)