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Stopping of the Christmas Day Church Service in Ayios Synesios


Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Amb. Euripides L. Evriviades

2011-01-18 00:43:32

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Amb. Euripides L. Evriviades (1102nd mtg of the Ministers’ Deputies, 12 Jan., 2011 – agenda item 2.2 – “Situation in Cyprus” - Forceful interruption of Christmas mass Saint Synesios Church, Rizokarpaso)

On instructions, I would like to inform the Committee of a highly disturbing and painful event which occurred on Christmas day in the church of Saint Synesios, in the town of Rizokarpaso which is located in the part of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army.

Security forces of Turkey’s subordinate local administration interrupted the religious service which was in progress, ordered the priest to divest of his liturgical vestments and to terminate the liturgy, forced the faithful to evacuate, and then locked the church. Christmas mass was also not allowed to take place in the Church of the Holy Trinity (Ayia Triada) in Yaloussa village. The explanation provided that no “permit” was obtained, is simply a pretext and not credible. These two Greek Orthodox places of worship are but a handful allowed to operate, albeit with constant hurdles.

Furthermore, liturgies were not allowed throughout the remaining holidays, specifically on new year’s eve, new year’s day, the 5th of January and on Epiphany day (6th of Jan.), all major holidays for the Orthodox faithful. To add insult to injury, a new “procedure” is now established, whereby prior authorization should be sought 30 days in advance for all scheduled religious celebrations, except Sundays.

My government decries these unprecedented developments as yet another gross violation of a basic and inalienable human right, that of religious freedom. These latest acts, are part and parcel of a wider Turkish policy of intimidation which has been going on unabated and with impunity since the 1974 invasion. This policy is now directed upon the few remaining elderly Cypriots, in order to force them to leave their ancestral homes. The facts speak for themselves. There were approximately 180,000 Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus in 1974. Today they are only 343 Cypriot Greeks and 112 Cypriot Maronites.

The aforesaid and other provocative acts, expose the repressive policies of the occupying regime, which promotes itself as a beacon of religious tolerance. They are an affront to human decency and a reflection of base and retrograde behaviour. They clearly violate Articles 3 and 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights which Turkey, as the respondent state, was found in breach in a Grand Chamber judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in the 4th interstate case of Cyprus v. Turkey (10 May 2001). They are also in breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They directly contravene the Third Vienna Agreement (02 August 1975) which explicitly provided that the enclaved will not be “... subjected to any kind of pressure ...” and that they “... would be free to stay and that they will be given every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and for the practice of their religion, as well as medical care by their own doctors and freedom of movement ...”. These developments also poison the talks which are entering a critical stage.

I would like to remind the Committee that the desecration of Christian places of worship and other religious and cultural monuments which are the common heritage of all Cypriots, continues to this day as a matter of policy.

Five hundred and two (502) Greek Orthodox churches have been looted under the watchful eye of the Turkish military. One hundred and thirty three (133) have been desecrated. Approximately fifteen thousand (15,000) icons, frescoes, murals, and other sanctified artefacts have been stolen and many have been sold abroad. Twenty eight (28) churches are used by the Turkish military forces as barracks and depots; others are used as agricultural barns, art studios, theatres and even bars. The Roman Catholic church of Saint Francis has been turned into a pub and a pizza parlour. The church of the Johannine Knights has been transformed into a night club. The church of the Holy Mother of Trahonas is now a dance theatre. About sixty thousand (60,000) ancient antiquities have been pillaged and exported illegally around the world.

Seventy-seven (77) churches have been turned into mosques and minarets have been added to them. Yes. Minarets. We are rightly discussing Islamophobia in this house. It is about time that we also start discussing Christianophobia. In the case of the despicable and utterly condemnable murderous attacks in Egypt, is more than Christianophobia. It is Christianocide. Priests and other Christians were also murdered in recent years in a number of places in the world, including Turkey, which necessitated the protest of the Pope.

I am confident that the overwhelming sense of this house is one of deploring the events that I have described. My delegation kindly asks you, as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to: (a) impress upon the Turkish authorities that such actions have no place in today’s Europe; (b) that they violate the very values and standards upon which the CoE is founded; (c) that all restrictions to religious freedom of the enclaved should be rescinded; and (d) that such acts should never be repeated. Thank you.

This article comes from PSEKA - International Coordinating Committee "Justice For Cyprus"

The URL for this story is:


Positive response from Mike Freer member of parliament

Press Release issued by Mike Freer MP.  Following the receipt of a copy of our letter to David Lidington MP,  Minister of State & Minister for Europe, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Mike Freer has also written to David Lidington about this issue.

see attachment




A delegation from the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain consisting of Mary Karaolis (President), Vice President Michael Lidas and Executive Committee Member Andreas Strongolou had a meeting at the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office with Christine Lufkin, Cyprus and Greece Team Leader, and Bob Easton, Cyprus Desk Officer on Friday 7th January 2011.
Once again, they put forward the  views of the overseas Rizokarpassides who are first, second and subsequent generation British Citizens.  They had a long, frank and open discussion on a whole range of issues including the stopping of the Christmas Day Service in Ayios Synesios Church Rizokarpasso, the prevention of the repair and refurbishment of Apostolos Andreas Monastery, the continued denial of human rights of the enclaved 260 Greek Cypriots in Rizokarpasso by the illegal administration and the rights of the legal owners of properties in occupied north Cyprus.

Mary Karaolis, Andreas Strongolou, Christine Lufkin and Bob Easton



David Lidington MP                                                                                                                             
Minister of State & Minister for Europe

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH



26th December 2010

Dear Mr Lidington


In your capacity as Minister for Europe we are writing once again to you regarding yet another act in the systematic destruction of the religious and cultural heritage of Cyprus by the occupying forces in north Cyprus and the unbelievable, uncivilized denial of human rights for the remaining 260 enclaved Greek Cypriots in Rizokarpasso. During the Christmas Day Service yesterday in Rizokarpasso the occupying, illegal administration went into the church and stopped the service thus denying the priest and his enclaved Christian congregation the basic human right of religious worship on Christmas Day!

Our Association’s key objective is to support and to highlight the plight of 260 enclaved Greek Cypriot people in Rizokarpasso which, as you know, like the rest of northern Cyprus, was invaded by Turkish troops in 1974 and remains under Turkish army occupation.  Yesterday’s act is yet another denial of the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of the enclaved Greek Cypriots in Rizokarpasso contrary to the Third Vienna Agreement  between Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash in August 1975. The plight of the enclaved has been exacerbated by the transportation of settlers from Turkey to occupy the homes and properties of the 4,500 Greek Cypriots in Rizokarpasso who were forced to leave following the Turkish invasion.  We also wish to promote progress towards a solution to the injustice that the small island of Cyprus has suffered from for the last 36 years as a result of Turkey’s invasion, occupation, colonisation and expansionist policy.  Obviously, any solution must return properties to their legal owners, without delay, to be acceptable.

Surely it is unacceptable to the civilized world for people to be denied basic human rights including the right for religious worship as illustrated by the fact that their Christian service was stopped on Christmas Day.  We ask that Great Britain, as a Guarantor Power, condemns Turkey for yesterday’s uncivilized and cruel behaviour and uses its significant influence to put pressure on Turkey and its illegal administration to behave in accordance with the requirements of basic human rights.


Thanking you in anticipation of your kind assistance.


Yours sincerely 
Mrs Mary Helen Karaolis   OBE   BEd(Hons)   MA   NPQH   FCollT
President of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain


(similar letters were sent to a number of  other VIPs)



The Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain held their annual Dinner & Dance at the Cypriot Community Centre, Earlham Grove, London N22 5HJ, with over 200 people participating. First, second, and third generation compatriots from Rizokarpasso and their friends attended, making the evening a truly enjoyable family evening out and creating a great community atmosphere.  Special Guests were the Honourable Representative of the Cyprus High Commission, George Georgiou, Consul General;  Right Reverend Archimandrides Seraphim Papathanasiou, representing His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain; The Honourable Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate, David Burrowes, Chairman of the All Party Inter-Parliamentary Committee for Cyprus;  The Honourable Member of Parliament for Edmonton, Andy Love; Member of the European Parliament for London, Marina Yannakoudakis, whose roots are Rizokarpasso;  Greater London Member for Barnet & Camden and London Borough of Barnet, Councillor  Brian Coleman; Athan Tsimpedes, of Tsimpedes Law, Washington DC, USA


The special guests commented on and were very impressed with the large gathering of young and old Cypriots and the obvious fact that there were many British born Rizokarpassides present, enjoying themselves in the company of family and friends, proud of their roots and not prepared to forget that Rizokarpasso belongs to them.  All congratulated the Association for its work in maintaining the ethnic, religious and cultural roots of its community and also for its work in promoting the just cause of  Cyprus;  George Georgiou congratulated the Association on its support of the enclaved he also stated “I would like to thank you once more for your support and stress again the need for real pressure exerted towards Turkey. Your help is highly valued and very important for us. A united and politically stable Cyprus, a fully and smoothly functioning democracy within the context of the EU is after all, to the interests of everyone interested in the very sensitive area of the Southeastern Mediterranean, and someone can presume, definitely to Great Britain’s interests as well.” 


Maria Karaolis, the President of the Association, in her speech emphasised: “This evening our thoughts are of Rizokarpasso, with our enclaved friends, relatives and compatriots, the upholders of human rights, who have sacrificed the last 36 years guarding our rights to our properties.   We, as all the other refugees, will not allow anyone to give title or ownership of our land to anybody else; ownership of property is our basic human right.”    She stated that Athan Tsimpedes is organising a class legal action in the USA regarding property rights of Greek Cypriots in US, Britain, Greece, Cyprus and elsewhere, and invited interested members who have been denied access to, use and enjoyment of their properties since the Turkish invasion, to speak with Mr Tsimpedes.


The evening included the raffle prize draw with top prizes being return tickets to Cyprus, kindly donated by Cyprus Airways and Monarch Airlines.  Other raffle prizes included Barnet FC signed Shirt and football, (donated by Barnet FC Chairman Tony Kleanthous), Table for Two at Vrisaki Restaurant, (donated by Vrisaki),  Table for Two at Nissi Restaurant, (donated by Nissi), a basket of fruit, (donated by Despina’s Food Store).  The winning numbers were 1605, 1871, 1659, 1651, 1275, 1846, 0601, 0627, 1748, 0412.  There was also a special auction, which raised £110 for a signed Arsenal FC football.




Speech by George Georgiou, Consul General, Cyprus High Commission.

Association of Rizokarpasso Dinner & Dance 4th December 2010


Αγαπητοί φίλοι,


Επιτρέψετε μου να σας ευχαριστήσω για την πρόσκληση που μου έχετε απευθύνει να παραστώ στην αποψινή χοροεσπερίδα. Η χαρά μου είναι μεγάλη που βρίσκομαι ανάμεσα σας.


Στο πρόσωπο της Οργάνωσης σας βλέπουμε ένα ιδιαίτερα θερμό συμπαραστάτη της δίκαιης υπόθεσης της Κύπρου καθώς και μια ισχυρή φωνή υπέρ των πολύπαθων εγκλωβισμένων μας, οι οποίοι συνεχίζουν να διαβιούν σε αντίξοες συνθήκες κάτω από την μπότα του κατακτητή στην μαρτυρική Καρπασία.


Θέλω να σας ευχαριστήσω και συνάμα να σας συγχαρώ για τις πρωτοβουλίες που αναλαμβάνετε υπέρ της ανάδειξης της σωρείας των παραβιάσεων των στοιχειωδών ανθρωπίνων τους δικαιωμάτων από την κατοχική δύναμη, για την αποκατάσταση των οποίων και εσείς με τον δικό σας τρόπο και στο δικό σας επίπεδο αγωνίζεστε δίπλα από τις διάφορες Υπηρεσίες της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας.


Ιδιαίτερα συγκινητική είναι η χειρονομία σας να αποστέλλετε κάθε Χριστούγεννα ένα χρηματικό πόσο, ως δώρο, για τα εγκλωβισμένα παιδιά μας, που φοιτούν στο Νηπιαγωγείο, το Δημοτικό και Γυμνάσιο Ριζοκαρπάσου. Αυτή σας η πρωτοβουλία εκτιμάται ιδιαίτερα ως έμπρακτη απόδειξη του ιδιαίτερου σας ενδιαφέροντος για τις κοινότητες των εγκλωβισμένων μας.


Η σημασία αυτής της ανθρωπιστικής πράξης δεν αφορά στην αξία του δώρου ως υλικού αγαθού. Εξ’ άλλου κανένα δώρο ή κανένα χρηματικό ποσό δεν μπορεί να αντικαταστήσει ή να υποκαταστήσει την απώλεια των στοιχειωδών δικαιωμάτων που υφίστανται οι εγκλωβισμένοι. Η σημασία αυτής της πράξης έγκειται στο μήνυμα που φέρει: Ότι οι εγκλωβισμένοι μας δεν είναι μόνοι στις Θερμοπύλες που τάχθηκαν να φυλάγουν, αλλά έχουν δίπλα τους σύσσωμο τον Κυπριακό λαό και ως μέρος αυτού την ομογένεια εδώ στο Λονδίνο. Η ηθική τους στήριξη παραμένει εξαιρετικής σπουδαιότητας.


Συγχαρητήρια λοιπόν για αυτή την όμορφη και μεστή από σημαντικά μηνύματα παράδοση που έχετε εγκαινιάσει τα τελευταία χρόνια.


Επιτρέψετε μου, κλείνοντας αυτό τον σύντομο χαιρετισμό, να σας ευχαριστήσω επίσης και για την ευρύτερη δραστηριότητα σας για διαφώτιση της κοινής γνώμης αλλά και της πολιτικής ηγεσίας αυτής της χώρας επί του Κυπριακού γενικότερα. Η κάθε επιστολή που φτάνει από μέρους σας σε κάποιο βουλευτή ή υπουργό, η κάθε διαμαρτυρία ή υπόμνημα που υποβάλλετε αποτελεί εφόδιο για ενίσχυση των δίκαιων θέσεων μας.


Η δραστηριότητα σας δίνει ουσιαστική στήριξη στις προσπάθειες που διαχρονικά καταβάλλονται για επίλυση του Κυπριακού προβλήματος και ειδικά τώρα στις προσπάθειες του Προέδρου της Δημοκρατίας να κάμψει την Τουρκική αδιαλλαξία με σκοπό να επιτευχθεί επιτέλους η απαλλαγή της Κύπρου από τα κατοχικά τετελεσμένα, να επανενωθεί ο τόπος και ο λαός μας και να ζήσει σε συνθήκες ειρήνης, ασφάλειας και ευημερίας.


Dear friends, Members of the Parliament and European Parliament, Councillors


I’ m seizing the opportunity of your presence to call upon you to maintain and strengthen your support to President’s Christofias tireless efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem. The agreed basis of the current negotiations amongst the leaders of the two communities is to achieve a bizonal – bicommunal federation with political equality as described in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions for a state with one and single sovereignty, one and single international personality, one and single citizenship.


Regrettably, the Turkish side puts forward proposals that are far from the agreed basis. Their philosophy is completely divisive. On the discussion of the property chapter- which is currently under negotiation -they have proved that they want to achieve two ethnically clean units in Cyprus with a very loose link between them. This it comes, someone can suppose, as the logical continuation of the Turkish Cypriot leader’s many times repeated position that in Cyprus exist two states and two people. Exactly the same statements were made by high ranking Turkish Officials many times in the recent past.


This approach does not help the negotiations to come to a fruitful end. We believe that whoever really wants the problem to be resolved soon, has to exert its influence towards Turkey. Turkey calls the shots on the Cyprus problem. This country is the single most important factor to achieve or not a solution. Its public rhetoric that supports a solution unfortunately is not matched by the deeds on the negotiation table. To the constructive and unifying proposals of President Christofias, the Turkish side replies with counterproductive and dividing overtures.


It seems that, when the Turkish officials say that they are ready to accept whatever is agreed amongst Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu, they mean that they are ready to accept a tailored made plan to their specifications that will cover sufficiently first and foremost their own interests. This simply cannot happen. No Cypriot can accept a solution that safeguards anything else but its own rights to live peacefully on its own land, as any other European citizen.


Under these circumstances, I would like to thank you once more for your support and stress again the need for real pressure exerted towards Turkey. Your help is highly valued and very important for us. A united and politically stable Cyprus, a fully and smoothly functioning democracy within the context of the EU is after all, to the interests of everyone interested in the very sensitive area of the Southeastern Mediterranean, and someone can presume, definitely to Great Britain’s interests as well.


Thank you once more and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the night.


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