Following this, the Turkish Cypriots moved to the northern part of the island, whereas the Greek Cypriots living there were forced to flee to the south.
In the areas under Turkish military control, the Turkish Cypriots first declared autonomous rule and in 1983 they declared independence and proclaimed a republic called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which, to this day has not been recognized by any country except Turkey and has been repeatedly declared illegal by the international community.
Turkey has been recognized as an occupying power in Cyprus by several UN and international resolutions and there have been several cases brought against it in the European Court of Human Rights. With the international attention mainly focused on the presence of Turkey on the island, the issue of oppression faced by the progressive Turkish Cypriots, especially progressive Turkish Cypriot journalists living in the area controlled by Turkey, has, for many years, remained in the dark.
The international isolation of the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus has also meant that the only voices heard from the region were those of the ruling powers, mostly occupying their positions through undemocratic means. As a result, the voice of the dictatorial regime was perceived as that of all Turkish Cypriots when it was anything but.
Three forms of political terror
In the northern part of Cyprus, three forms of political terror can be cited:
1. Threats through the media resulting in physical or emotional terror
2. Bombings and gun firings directed at political personalities, newspapers and parties
3. The murder of a prominent journalist Kutlu Adali. The latter is signled out because it is the only known political murder since 1974 (though there were other murders believed to be related to intelligence services).
There has been more than 31 bombings, 10 arsons, 4 gun firings and 1 murder with political motivations in the northern part of Cyprus since 1974. Afrika newspaper's printing house has been bombed twice in recent years.
In all these bombings and arsons noone has ever been found guilty and no serious, well-established group has ever claimed responsibility for these actions. Victims and others in threatened position have always claimed a link between these and the `Deep State` or `Counter-gerilla` (known in Europe as the Gladio) which was uncovered a decade ago in Turkey.
Reports from witnesses, victims and other threatened indicate deliberate negligence and obstruction by the authorities which strengthens the above claim. Furthermore threats in the media, by phone calls, letters and leaflets all carry the fingerprint of `counter-guerilla` style activities.
Many reports in the media tried to uncover some of these (most prominent being the murder of Kutlu Adali) establishing a variety of links. Adali's family has sued Turkey and currently the case is in the European Court of Human Rights.(**)
Political terror, `part of life`
It should also be noted that since the formation of the underground `resistance` organizations in the Turkish Cypriot community (almost always controlled and funded by Turkish intelligence with connections well-established in the memoirs of the leading members) around 1958, political terror has been a part of life.
It was common to have opposition trade unionists beaten, threatened, opposition journalists murdered and many others threatened. Some examples of pre-1974 killings by underground organizations of progressive Turkish Cypriots involve those of Fazil Onder (publisher of Inkilapci newspaper), Ahmet Gurkan and Ayhan Hikmet (publishers of the Cumhuriyet newspaper) and Dervis Ali Kavazoglu (trade unionist and member of the executive council of the communist party of the island).
These were seen as `natural consequences` of the extraordinary circumstances of the period by some and the people and organizations responsible for these openly (and proudly) claimed responsibility without any repurcussions. Many of them became post-1974 period's key political figures.
Laws concerning the media in the north
In the northern part of Cyprus, there isn't a specific code of law concerning the media. However, journalists can be arrested, put on trial, and sentenced under chapter 154 of 7th paragraph of the `Criminal Code`, concerning the "Unjust actions", "The courts", and "The Military Adjudication" covering 84 items.
These laws are left from the British Colonial period and are still in use. These laws are based on `possibilities`: that is: there is no need to have a `complete action` to be arrested, put on trial, imprisoned or even defamation...
There is also a law dating from the 1980s, concerning `Military crimes and punishments` which covers `crimes` and `punishments` within the military forces based in the northern part of Cyprus. Even though, this law concerns the `military`, journalists can also be put on trial in military courts.
The lawyer of Sener Levent - editor of Afrika newspaper, Oner Serifoglu, brought a case to the Constitutional Court concerning the trial of journalists in military courts. The head of the military court was not a judge but someone who would be appointed by the military.
The Constitutional Court found him right. Since then, there has been an amendment to the law (2002) and now the head of the military court is a civil judge. Still cases of journalists allegedly `for insulting the military` or for causing people to `feel cold towards the military` continue.
Two journalists jailed
Between August and October 2002, the editor and a reporter of the daily paper Afrika (formerly Avrupa) were jailed in Nicosia for criticising Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in a 1999 article.
Memduh Ener (columnist) and Sener Levent (editor) of the daily paper Afrika, were jailed for six months by a Nicosia court on 2 August 2002 for "possibly upsetting the president in his conduct of his duties." The conviction was based on an article in the paper (then called Avrupa) on 29 July 1999 that ended with a sentence in which the reader was invited to decide "who is traitor number one."
One suggested answer was "Rauf Denktash" The Turkish-Cypriot supreme court ruled on 3 October that the sentence was too harsh, cut it to six weeks and the journalists were freed.
More than 100 complaints were filed by the Turkish-Cypriot authorities against Afrika and its journalists for "insulting the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" or for allegedly `inciting people to break the law, insulting the army, and trying to spread hatred towards the army among Turkish Cypriots`.
For years, progressive journalists writing for peace, democracy, reconciliation and human rights have been exercising their profession under death threats. Among those under constant death threats have been Sevgul Uludag and Tema Irkad of Yeniduzen, Sener Levent and other writers of Afrika. Tema Irkad who is a columnist in Yeniduzen got death threats and his car was burned down two years ago.
He has been writing about the link between military intelligence services and the Kutlu Adali murder. Sener Levent, editor of Afrika, along with his staff, continue to regularly receive threats. While he was in prison, his daughter received an anonymous call threatening to kill her father "like a dog."
Hasan Keskin, a columnist with the newspaper Volkan, published by an organisation close to Denktash, criticised Afrika on 23 July for supporting the UN-proposed reunification plan. He said Afrika journalists had betrayed their country and that it was "halal" (legitimate) to drink their blood. Erhan Arikli of Kibrisli newspaper detailed how he will torture and kill `100 of progressives` in case there is a solution of the Cyprus problem.
Cases against journalists
Charges were laid before the criminal court on 10 January 2002 against Nilgün Orhon, of the daily Afrika, and its editor Sener Levent, after an editorial in the paper on 16 November 2001 criticising the absence of democracy, freedom and security in the country.
The journalists were accused of incitement to hatred against "the Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus" and to law-breaking by citizens.
Charges were filed against Afrika journalist Yalcin Okut on 15 January in connection with an article he wrote on 9 April 2001 proclaiming the innocence of a Greek-Cypriot arrested by Turkish-Cypriot forces in what he said was a reprisal for the arrest of a Turkish-Cypriot by Greek-Cypriot officials. The journalist was accused of undermining the conduct of a trial and encouraging law-breaking.
Several dozen complaints were filed on 22 April 2002 before a military court against Afrika editor Levent and four of the paper's journalists - Ali Osman, Suzan Karaman, Nilgün Orhon and Ozker Ozgur - and the paper itself for "insulting the Northern Cyprus security forces" in articles in July and August 1999 about the army's eviction of a Turkish-Cypriot family from their home.
Another trial of Afrika journalists Memduh Ener and Sener Levent began on 20 November for "incitement to hatred against the army" in an article on 16 October 2001 criticising military interference in civilian life.
A new case was opened against four journalists and the trial opened on 21 November 2002 of freelance opposition journalist Oya Gürel, Sevgul Uludag of the daily Yenidüzen, Afrika journalists Kazim Denizci and Ali Osman for allegedly "trespassing in a public building."
They had covered a demonstration on 11 December 2001 by members of a teachers' union at a secondary school and police had tried to expel the journalists. The demonstrators were protesting against the dismissal from her teaching post of Afrika journalist Nilgün Orhon because of an article she had written. The hearing continues and the journalists face imprisonment.
Tema Irkad, columnist in Yeniduzen was sued and is on trial for allegedly `inciting hatred against the army and insulting the army` for an article he wrote in the newspaper in May 2001. His trial continues.
On 21st of March 2003, editor of Yenicag, Murat Kanatli was questioned by police and is to be tried under the law concerning `military crimes and punishments` for publishing a news item in the weekly newspaper Yenicag on the 18th of May 2001.
He is being blamed for `insulting the army and inciting hatred against the army`. The news was criticizing the policies where Turkish Cypriot students were being taken from their schools and brought to military camps to watch military maneuvers done with live ammunition.
Foreign journalists expelled
Ten Spanish journalists, including Xavier Vidal, editor of the daily El Pais, were deported to the southern part of the island on 14 October 2002 after meeting with NGOs, the media and civil society groups in the northern part.
They were accused of holding illegal meetings and giving "false information" to Turkish-Cypriot border officials. The group had attended a conference in the southern part on enlarging the European Union and had entered the north on tourist visas.
Foreign journalists coming to the northern part of the island are `accompanied` by `Public Information Office` civil servants.
Psychological terror campaigns
For the past two years, there has been a psychological terror campaign, through the media run by advisers and under-secretaries of Denktash employed in his office, especially against journalists like Sevgul Uludag of Yeniduzen, Hasan Kahvecioglu of Ortam, Hasan Hasturer of KIBRIS, Sener Levent of AFRIKA and against progressive teachers, trade unionists, politicians and businessmen.
These psychological terror and professional manipulation campaigns based on fabricated lies aims to `terrorise` the public, to silence the community and to prevent them from expressing their ideas freely. It aims to marginalize and isolate journalists and fabricate terrible `myths` around them.
The names of the papers and personalities voicing these threats have changed over time but the essential themes and the language used has been very consistent since the 1960s indicating a continuity of policy and aims. These papers and organizations are supported and directed by very powerful individuals and the military. They serve the purpose of terrorizing the general public to not follow oppositions ideas and opposition politicians.
By threatening the leaders, journalists, activists, trade unionists and such, these groups are trying to keep the public from raising their opinion against the regime unless they are ready to face similar consequences. Over the years, many prominet intellectuals, activists and politicans have been neturalized an/or been forced to leave the island as a result of such activities.
In 2001 the psychological terror campaign started with the Kibrisli newspaper which was the main mouthpiece of Denktash and the army before the establishement of the Volkan newspaper. Kibrisli `changed position` last year and now takes the `side` of the `opposition` in the north.
Volkan is the official mouthpiece of UHH (National People's Movement), a fascist organization established in the `presidential palace` by the political advisers of Denktash. UHH surfaced with anonymous declarations in May 2001 threatening progressives acting `against the national cause` but under immense public pressure, the people behind it surfaced shortl thereafter and have been trying to portray themselves as a `legal political force`.
Volkan includes articles by the leaders of UHH and it acts as a `daily orders to the government` by those dark powers who have the real power in the northern part of Cyprus. Both Kibrisli in the past and Volkan currently have published information that is not publicly available and can only be obtained through secret connections with the security forces which are under direct command of the Turkish military in the island.
In November 2001 issue of Kibrisli newspaper, Erhan Arikli threatened `the traitors` with death. Arikli is a member of groups related to Gray Wolves of Turkey. He had admitted to being part of the crowd that participated in the killing of two Greek Cypriots on the Green Line in 1996. Recently he has surfaced as the head of an association called `Turkish Union` (Turk-Bir) which has released threatening declarations in the past against individuals and organizations.
He also proudly admits a history of fighting against leftist groups in Turkey during 70s alongside the Gray Wolves. Currently he is the General Secretary of MAP (Nationalist Justice Party), a fascist party in the northern part of Cyprus. In his November 2001 article, Arikli detailed what sort of torture he would make progressives go through...
Both Kibrisli in the past and Volkan now have issued `articles` threatening of turturing and killing these journalists, of breaking their arms and legs, of shooting them `like dogs in the street` and calling on fascist organizations to `deal with them` and spreading slander and professionally manipulated campaigns of lies about journalists. Volkan presented news written by Sevgul Uludag in the international media website `indymedia.org` as `secret reports to the EU` and continues a terror campaign against her.
The most recent death threat against her was published in Volkan headlines due to an interview she made with the Bishop of Morphou, Neophytos. In this interview, Neophytos said `Nationalism is a sin`. Volkan in headlines of 17 April 2003, threatened to `cut off the tongue of Sevgul Uludag`.
The 9, 10 and 16 July 2002 issues of the newspaper Volkan dubbed as "traitors" daily paper journalists Hasan Hastürer (of Kibris), Hasan Kahvecioglu (of Ortam) and Sevgul Uludag (of Yenidüzen).
It accused them of attending `secret meetings in Germany with Karen Fogg, the former European Union representative in Turkey`, of training in the United States to `brainwash 3000 Turkish-Cypriots` and meeting with Greek-Cypriots to discuss a negotiated resolution of the island's partition. These journalists have been called by Volkan `traitors`, `informers`, `agents of EU or Greek Cypriots`, `spies` etc.
Turkey is responsible for the north
Recently the European Court of Human Rights, had stressed the dominance of Turkey in northern part of Cyprus at its decision number 20652/92 in the case brought to the court by Ahmet Cavit An against Turkey. The decision was the following:
'It was not necessary to determine whether Turkey actually exercised detailed control over the policies and actions of the 'TRNC' authorities. It was obvious from the large number of troops engaged in active duties in northern Cyprus that the Turkish army exercised effective control over that part of the island. Such control entailed her responsibility for the policies and actions of the 'TRNC''
Therefore Turkey is also responsible for the conditions where journalists in the north have to exercise their profession with lack of democracy, human rights and under constant death threats.
(*) This news feature has been prepared through information compiled by www.cyprusaction.org, www.hamamboculeri.org and www.yenicag-net.com, as well as various news items prepared by the north Cyprus correspondent of Reporters sans Frontiers and news items sent to the Committee to Protect Journalists. For more information concerning the situation of the media in the northern part of Cyprus: www.cyprusaction.org - www.hamamboculeri.org - www.yenicag-net.com - www.cpj.org - www.rsf.org
(**) A detailed article about the Kutlu Adali murder written by Turgut Durduran and Eser Keskiner can be found at www.cyprusaction.org
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