NEPOMAK Remembers Missing Persons at Christmas
This Christmas, NEPOMAK branches around the world held events to remember the missing persons of Cyprus. These events were coordinated globally by NEPOMAK, (the World Federation of Young Diaspora Cypriots) and POMAK (the World Federation of Diaspora Cypriots), with the support of the Presidential Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Photis Photiou.
Events were held in London, New York, Athens, Toronto and Paris. On each occasion, NEPOMAK members and guests placed portrait photographs of the missing persons on a Christmas tree, mirroring similar memorial events held annually in Cyprus before Christmas.
NEPOMAK President Christos Tuton said that the events were “a moving reminder that there are still far too many missing Cypriots. He added, “it is an awful humanitarian injustice that, even after all these decades, relatives of the missing still don’t know the fate of their loved ones. Through these events, we hope to demonstrate our respect for those who still suffer the consequences and reemphasise that relatives have a right to know the fate of their loved ones.”
Praising the events, Presidential Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Photis Photiou commented, “Your initiative is commendable and gives credit to you all as the youth of the Cypriot Diaspora. I express the Government’s sincere support and solidarity to the families of our missing, and to all of you, with the reassurance and commitment that will continue together our noble struggle for the restoration and respect of the human rights of every missing person.”
About the missing persons of Cyprus
There are over 900 Cypriots still missing from 1974 and 1963/4. The relatives of those who are still missing have suffered for decades. The missing persons issue is a humanitarian and social tragedy that still affects so many today.
A crucial part of determining the fate of the missing persons of Cyprus is obtaining information to help piece together stories that might lead to someone’s loved one being identified.
Turkey has a vital role to play. In 1997, President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash agreed to provide each other with all information at their disposal on the location of graves of the missing. However, a lot of that information remains in Turkey’s military archives and areas under Turkish military control. Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey has violated multiple articles of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the missing persons issue of Cyprus and ordered Turkey to pay £30m – which still hasn’t been paid. Turkey should release all information it has about the missing persons.