Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain
The 35th Annual General Meeting (72nd GM) of the Association of Rizokarpasso held in the hall of the Cypriot Community Centre, Wood Green, was well attended and gave the opportunity for the members present to discuss the many issues regarding Rizokarpasso, especially in relation to the plight of compatriots who have been enclaved for the last 34 years and denied basic human rights by the illegal occupying regime. Once again, the members vehemently upheld that the return of the refugees to their homes and properties was a human right, morally correct and totally non-negotiable and passes a Resolution to be sent to the 5 permanent member states of the UN Security Council expressing their steadfastness. 2007-2009 Officers Maria Karaolis, President, presented a report of the Association’s activities since the last meeting and Yiannis Chronias, Treasurer presented the financial accounts of the Association. On behalf of the Association Mary Karaolis presented plaques, as a token of appreciation of their hard work, dedication and long service to the Association, to Andreas Gavrielides, Nikolas Kolatsis and Konstantinos Spanovangelis. Andreas Gavrielides chaired the remainder of the meeting and presided over the election of a new committee for 2009-2011 which included a new member, Andreas Strongolou, the son of the well known actor born in Rizokarpasso, Demetri Andreas, who together with Christiana Demetriou and Maria Panteli represent the younger generation of Rizokarpassides.
At a subsequent Executive Committee meeting the 9 committee members unanimously elected the following officers who will serve for the next two years:
President: Maria Karaolis
Vice-President: Michael Lidas
Treasurer: Yiannis Chronias
General Secretary: Yiannoulla Antoniades
Events Secretary: Takis Chrysostomou
Social Secretaries: Christiana Demetriou & Andreas Strongolou
Membership Secretary: Maria
Kolatsis - Gavrielides - Karaolis - Spanovangelis
The members of our Association were either born in Rizokarpasso or their parents or grandparents were born in Rizokarpasso. Most of our members are the legal owners of homes and properties in Rizokarpasso and since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus have been denied the use, benefit from and enjoyment of their properties. We believe that the continued occupation of Cyprus by troops and settlers from Turkey is denying our members human rights, fundamental freedoms and social justice and the very principles at the heart of democracy. Furthermore, Turkey is in flagrant violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions including General Assembly resolution 3212 (1974).
According to the Treaty of Guarantee, Britain, Greece and Turkey undertook “to prohibit, as far as lies within their power, all activity having the object of promoting directly or indirectly either the union of the Republic of Cyprus with any other State, or the partition of the Island.” We agree with President Barack Obama, who, in his recent speech in Prague said “Rules must be binding and words must mean something”. Countries and organisations can and, we believe, should, choose to put pressure on Turkey to abide by UN Resolutions and the rules of international law and stop their illegal occupation of northern Cyprus and abuse of the Human Rights of Greek Cypriots.
In 1974 Turkey illegally invaded Cyprus and ethnically cleansed 200,000 Greek Cypriots, (who made up 82% of the population), from 38% of Cyprus territory in the north, and still occupies their land and homes with 40,000 troops and over160,000 illegal settlers transported to colonize and change the demography of northern Cyprus, thus ignoring the Geneva Convention. Only 261 enclaved Greek Cypriots remain in Rizokarpasso and they are denied basic human rights by the illegal administration. UN Security Council resolutions 541(1983) and 550(1984) declare the self proclaimed "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," "legally invalid" and call upon all states not to assist this illegal secessionist entity in any way since to do so will lend credibility to the invasion, occupation and colonizing of northern Cyprus it will ignore the human rights abuses carried out since 1974.
Our Association believes that the interests of democracy and international law require the following:
a) The removal of all Turkish troops from Cyprus.
b) The repatriation to Turkey of the over 160,000 illegal settlers in Cyprus.
c) The restoration of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots.
d) The reunification of the island and people of Cyprus.
e) The return of the refugees to their homes and properties in safety.
f) The return of properties to their lawful owners.
g) The end of the suffering of the enclaved.
h) The full and effective investigation of the fate of all the missing persons.
Once again the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain held their annual Dinner & Dance at the Penridge Banqueting Suite, attended by first, second, and third generation compatriots from Rizokarpasso and their friends. Special Guests were the Very Revd. Archimandrite Damianos Constantinou representing His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios; Lefkios Vasiliou representing the Cyprus High Commissioner; Andrew Dismore MP; David Burrowes MP; Cllr and prospective Member of the European Parliament, Marina Yannakoudakis .
The special guests commented on and were very impressed with the large gathering of several generations of 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. 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 34 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".
Zoe Orchestra provided excellent music for dancing as well as leading the singing of "Happy Birthday" to three Rizokarpassides celebrating their birthdays with children, grandchildren and friends. The evening included the raffle prizes draw with top prizes being an Arsenal FC football signed by the Arsenal team kindly donated by Tony Kleanthous, Chairman of Barnet Football Club , a return ticket to Cyprus, kindly donated by Cyprus Airways and tea for two at the House of Commons, kindly donated by David Burrowes MP. The winning numbers were 1264, 0308, 1106, 0674, 1507, 1594, 1019, 0518
There was also a special auction, which raised £175 from Maria Koutoulou, for a signed Arsenal FC shirt kindly donated by Tony Kleanthous, Chairman of Barnet FC, and a signed England Football Team shirt kindly donated by the Football Association, which raised £170 from Maria Paschali. The commemorative brochure was well illustrated, kindly supported by many advertisements and detailed the activities of the Association over the past year:
ACTIVITIES of ASSOCIATION OF RIZOKARPASSO IN BRITAIN IN 2008
£3,352 donation to fund CY£50 for each of the 51 children at school in Rizokarpasso (Christmas 2007).
£ 671 funding for coach and dinner for the children from Rizokarpasso who came to London (July 2008)
£ 420 donation to fund the Pensioners Summer Outing lunch at Worthing (July 2008)
£ 250 donation to Radiomarathon
£ 100 donation to Cancer Research UK (in memory)
£ 50 donation to British Heart Foundation (in memory)
£ 100 donation to the Committee of Greek Citizens of Georgia
£ 100 donation to Lobby For Cyprus
£ 50 donation to Ayios Demetrios Church, Edmonton (Ayios Synesios Celebration)
£ 175 donation to Rizokarpasso Football Club
ACTIVITIES TO PROMOTE THE CYPRUS CAUSE & THE RIGHTS OF THE ENCLAVED
Letters to all the member states, permanent and non-permanent, of the UN Security Council. Letters to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and various Members of the British Parliament including Caroline Flint MP, the new Minister of State for Europe at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Letters written to various newspapers and organisations regarding feature articles and adverts on holidays and properties for sale in occupied Cyprus and complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority regarding such advertisements.
Letters to all the Candidates in the Cyprus Presidential elections and subsequently to the newly elected President Demetris Christofias.
Discussion with the British High Commissioner in Cyprus, Peter Millet; with Elias Elia Manitara the person responsible for www.rizokarpason.com; with the President and Vice President of the Rizokarpasso Association in Cyprus; and with Rizokarpassides from South Africa and Australia.