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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-05

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Enclaved teacher attacked by occupation regime agents
  • [02] UNFICYP concerned over minefields in Cyprus

  • 1115 CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Enclaved teacher attacked by occupation regime agents

    Nicosia, Jul 5 (CNA) -- Enclaved Greek Cypriot teacher Eleni Foka has been physically attacked by agents of the Turkish Cypriot occupation regime and suffered minor injuries as she tried to return to her home in the occupied Karpass peninsula.

    According to a police statement, Foka, who was travelling on a bus with a number of enclaved persons wishing to return to their homes in the occupied part of Cyprus, was manhandled by Turkish Cypriot "police" at the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia.

    The teacher was forced to return to the government-controlled areas where she was taken to Nicosia General Hospital for treatment.

    The police statement said Foka's injuries included scratches to her left wrist and little finger and bruises to her left upper arm.

    Foka has been refusing to sign an identity card of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot "state" since late last year and has been the victim of continuous harassment from occupation regime agents.

    She returned to the government-controlled areas in May for medical treatment with the help of the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

    Since then, the regime has been refusing to allow her to return to her home in the Karpass peninsula, located in the northeastern part of the island.

    UNFICYP Spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski has said the UN supports Foka's right to return home.

    "We are raising the issue with officials in the north at the highest level but so far to no avail. They say if she has no ID, she can't go," Rokoszewski said.

    Foka refuses to sign an identity card because that would be tantamount to recognition of the illegal, break-away "state" set up by the Turkish occupation regime in 1983, following the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island.

    The illegal entity is recognised by no country other than Turkey.

    The occupation regime considers Foka a "troublemaker" and has repeatedly tried to get rid of her from teaching in the occupied Karpass.

    As a result one of the three schools now serving the few remaining Greek Cypriot pupils in the Turkish occupied areas have been without a teacher since last September.

    Meanwhile, Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Takis Christopoulos, told CNA the UN conveyed last week a message by Denktash to the Service for Humanitarian Affairs that Foka may return to the occupied areas without ID, only to collect her personal effects and return to the government-controlled areas.

    Christopoulos added that it depends on Foka what she wants to do and pointed out that she has the right to try to go to the occupied areas without identification and that no one has the right to prevent her from doing that.

    The Commissioner noted that the Foreign Ministry has already made representations on the Foka issue to the UN which were circulated as an official document to Security Council members.

    He added that representations were also made to foreign embassies in Nicosia.

    Some 20,000 Greek Cypriots were cut off from the rest of the population when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and occupied more than one third of the island.

    That number has now dwindled to around 550 as thousands were forced to flee as a result of psychological harassment, physical abuse and even death threats by occupation regime agents.

    CNA MH/MCH/1997
    1200 CYPPRESS:02

    [02] UNFICYP concerned over minefields in Cyprus

    Nicosia, Jul 5 (CNA) -- The United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has raised concerns over the number of landmines strewn across the 180- kilometre wide buffer zone separating the government-controlled and Turkish- occupied areas.

    According to an article in the latest issue of the force's magazine, "The Blue Beret", UNFICYP estimates that there may be up to 17.000 mines in the UN-controlled no-man's land.

    "Traditionally, it's not a matter that we have tackled before," UNFICYP Spokesman, Waldemar Rokoszewski told CNA. "It is a signal that we did not forget about the issue."

    Rokoszewski said that although the force has been "very vigilant" on taking precautionary measures to protect the population at large, UNFICYP has come across "new situations" on occasion during patrols in the buffer zone.

    One mine was accidentally detonated by a stray dog as recently as last April.

    Since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, three UNFICYP soldiers have been killed by mines, while several UN personnel and civilians have been wounded.

    "Land mines have recently come into sharp focus at the United Nations and the Secretary-General has raised concern over the issue. We want to remind people of the number of minefields in Cyprus," Rokoszewski said.

    Identified minefields in the buffer zone are marked by a triangular red warning sign with the world "mines" written in Greek, English and Turkish.

    The UNFICYP spokesman said the landmine issue will constitute another item which the UN will take up in indirect talks with the National Guard and Turkish occupation forces.

    "We have made a number of attempts to raise the issue and will be discussing it further with the opposing forces," he said.

    Rokoszewski noted however, the issue will be raised separately from the ongoing indirect military dialogue between the two sides.

    The indirect military dialogue mediated by the UN, began in the second half of last year in a bid to reduce heightened tensions along the buffer zone.

    The minefields vary in size from single rows of mines to areas covering several square kilometres.

    CNA MH/MCH/1997

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