NEPOMAK: 49 years: Still occupied, still divided
On 20 July 1974, Turkey began the first wave of its brutal and illegal invasion of Cyprus.
At sunrise, the Turkish military dropped thousands of paratroopers just north of Nicosia along with supplies and ammunition. A few hours later, thousands more troops and 15 tanks had arrived by sea 5 miles to the west of Kyrenia. Cyprus was never the same. Turkey continues to illegally occupy over 36% of the island. Turkey continued to expand its occupation over the next few weeks culminating in a second wave of the invasion between 14-16 August.
Turkey's illegal invasion began just days after a treacherous coup d'etat by the fascist military junta in Greece and EOKA-B overthrew the democratically elected government of Cyprus.
Although these events happened long before NEPOMAK members were born, we are committed to supporting the people of Cyprus to find a just and viable solution the Cyprus issue. We will never forget what happened in 1974 and we will never stop believing in a free, united Cyprus where Cypriots live and prosper together.
The invasion caused immense suffering for all Cypriots and lives were utterly devastated. Some lost everything, including loved ones and their worldly possessions, and the consequences are still felt.
Here are 10 consequences of the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus that are still felt to this day:
1. Division - Cyprus and its people remain forcibly divided after 49 years.
2. Occupation - Over 36% of Cyprus is still under illegal military occupation by Turkey.
3. Suffering - Thousands were killed or tortured defending Cyprus against the coup and the invasion. Others live with the daily pain of their traumatic memories.
4. Refugees - 200,000 people became refugees - well over a third of the population of Cyprus in 1974. The inhabitants of Famagusta, Kyrenia, Morfou, Karpasias, northern Nicosia, and all the other villages and towns in between were forced to leave their homes and continue to be denied the right to return.
5. Missing - Of the original list of 2,000 missing persons, almost 1,000 are are still missing. Their relatives have a right to know their fate.
6. Enclaved - Some Greek Cypriots and Maronites chose to remain in their home villages in the occupied area of Cyprus, such as Rizokarpasso and Kormakitis, but live under difficult conditions with their human rights frequently violated. They rely on aid from the free areas delivered weekly by the UN.
7. Oppression - Turkish Cypriots are now outnumbered by settlers sent to Cyprus from mainland Turkey. Those who speak out about the occupation suffer police surveillance, intimidation and restrictions on freedom of speech.
8. Destruction - Many of Cyprus' religious and archaeological treasures continue to be neglected. Many churches and important sites have been looted or desecrated.
9. Militarisation - The occupied area of Cyprus remains one of the most heavily militarised areas in the world, with a presence of over 35,000 Turkish soldiers.
Violations - Turkey continues its violations towards Cyprus by illegally 'opening' parts of Varosi and threatening to take further action. In recent years, Turkey has sent drillships and warships into the waters around Cyprus and regularly violates Cypriot airspace by flying military jets overhead.