Koray Basdogrultmaci and Cinel Senem Husseyin are a Turkish-Speaking Cypriot couple. They were charged for hanging the Cyprus Republic’s flag outside their home and shop in Famagusta in June 2013. They were arrested and put in jail on June 21st 2013. Their original trial was postponed until June 11th 2014.
“Northern Cyprus is legally part of the Republic of Cyprus and the whole world recognizes it this way. But in 1974 Turkey illegally occupied the area and declared a de facto government that is recognized only by Turkey.”Oz Karajan from LINOBAMBAKI organization
According to Karajan, there are 70,000 Turkish-speaking Cypriots living in Cyprus. In comparison, there are 300,000 living in United Kingdom. “This number shows that Turks made them leave the island,” says Karajan, “Turks are getting rid of Turkish-speaking Cypriots who are owners on the island to achieve full control of the occupied areas.”
Karajan explains that the Turkish occupation is affecting people’s daily lives. This specific case shows their misuse of legislative power.
On June 20th 2013, Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, had flown the Cypriot flag during the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey. There was no problem with him doing this. Therefore, the couple wanted to protest his hypocrisy. They did so by hanging three flags.
“Why is it free to open Republic of Cyprus flags in Turkey but not in my own country?” says Cinel Senem Husseyin. She is outraged by the hypocrisy. “By doing this demonstration we wanted to remind Turkey’s role here,” Hysseying explains.
According to Karajan, there is an issue in the area where the couple lives and works. Turkish-speaking Cypriots are being forced to move into the Northern area of Cyprus to show that the occupation is legitimate.
“But these people aren’t ethnically or culturally Turk,” says Karajan, “they don’t like to live under Turkish authorities. They want to reunify with the Republic of Cyprus again.”
Karajan refers to the situation as, “systematic and well engineered oppression in 40 years. People are forced to leave their homeland to illegal occupation authorities and their illegal settlers.”
“We believe that the island is one and cannot be divided. It also cannot be joined to another country,” says Husseyin. She speaks on behalf of her husband as well as herself, “We believe that the Republic of Cyprus belongs to all Cypriots and the landscape belongs to all Cypriots.”
The court hearing is constantly being postponed for a different reason each time. On April 9th in 2014, a new judge asked the couple to simply apologize publicly. On turn they would only receive a small fine. However, the couple refused, facing a greater fine and potential imprisonment. The most recent hearing is being postponed because of a missing witness. The next court hearing will be held on April 13th 2015.
The couple and their friends, including Tina Adamidou, have tried to contact authorities in Cyprus. They have also tried to contact the European Court of Human Rights with the plea to dismiss the charges of public disorder. They sent letters to:
– The EU Parliament President, Martin Schultz
– EU Parliament Social & Democratic Leader, Hannes Swoboda
– The EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood, Stefan Fule
– EU Parliament co leader of the Green Party, Daniel Cohn-Benit
– Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Ahmet Davutohlu
– Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon
– President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasides
– Leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community in Cyprus, Dervis Eroglu
Unfortunately, none of these people have responded. But the couple continues to fight fort their cause with little support. They have an online petition and hope to gain at least some support. Koray and Cinel truly believe that they have done nothing wrong. Above all, they are worried about their two young children if they get charged with time in prison.
You can read more about the political turmoil in Cyprus here.