Turkish Cypriot Enclaves: Protection and Oppression

The Fall of the Republic of Cyprus discusses the events of Bloody Christmas in December 1963 and how it resulted in 25,000 – 30,000 Turkish Cypriots forced to become refugees within their own homeland. These events led to the Turkish Cypriots being stripped of any representation, political identity or equal rights within Cyprus, despite being given these assurances under the 1960 constitution. Thousands were forced to flee their homes and villages due to EOKA terrorism and pro-enosis brutality. The total number of villages evacuated by Turkish Cypriots reached 103. If you’re wondering why they were attacked, the simple answer is because they were Turkish Cypriot. Turkish Cypriots were seen as an obstacle to achieving two things: Enosis (Cyprus’s union with Greece) and unilateral Greek Cypriot rule. Therefore, the Turkish Cypriots had to be removed.

The Turkish Cypriot people had no other choice but to flee into a number of enclaves around the island; an enclave is a more secure and protected area of land which is surrounded by the territory of an entirely different state. The enclaves were the only way Turkish Cypriots could live safely and securely, and these areas became a safe haven for Turkish Cypriot men, women and children, protected from Greek Cypriot efforts to achieve ethnic cleansing. Here, they could be shielded from the Greek Cypriot onslaught.

The most well-known enclaves were as follows:

  • Kokkina (Erenköy)
  • Limnitis (Yeşilırmak)
  • Lefka (Lefke)
  • Lefkosia-Agyrta (Lefkoşa-Ağırdağ)
  • Tsatos (Tziaos/Serdarlı)
  • Galinoporni (Kuruova)
  • Kophinou (Geçitkale)
  • Lourojina (Akincilar)
  • Angolemi (Gaziveren)
  • Pergamos (Beyarmud

Despite making up approximately 20% of the population on the island, the Turkish Cypriots were now only living in 3% of Cypriot land. This is depicted on the left where the enclaves are highlighted in purple. Turkish Cypriots had gone from being fully integrated into Cypriot society to being forced to live in small pockets of land solely due to their ethnicity 

Despite the Turkish Cypriot people now being more protected from racial attacks, their suffering and struggle continued within the enclaves. The now Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus did everything in its power to worsen the living conditions for Turkish Cypriots across the island. Makarios III, president of Cyprus, implemented many laws and regulations that impoverished the Turkish Cypriot people, which were used as a way to force Turkish Cypriots off the island. If they did not leave the island, the laws would at least get them to submit to unilateral Greek Cypriot rule.

On the 7th October 1964, Makarios III banned the possession of several items from Turkish Cypriots, as well as the entrance of these items into the enclaves. These goods are as follows:

Accumulators
Ammonium nitrate
Angle iron
Automobile spare parts
Bags
Cables
Camouflage netting
Cartridges, shotgun
Cement
Crushed metal
Crushed stone
Electrical detonators
Exploders and explosives
Fuel, in large amounts
Galvanometers
Iron pickets

Iron poles and rods
Khaki coloured cloth
Mine detectors
Radio sets
Safety fuses
Sand
Studs for boots
Sulfur
Telephones
Tents and tent material
Thick steel plates
Timber
Tires
Wire, including barbed wire
Wire-cutters
Woolen clothing (if it can be used militarily)

Not only were Turkish Cypriots banned from possessing these items, but they were also restricted from travelling outside their enclaves (1963-1974). As stated by the UN Secretary General in 1964, the Greek Cypriot police committed “excessive checks and searches and apparently unnecessary obstructions”. Whenever a Turkish Cypriot left their enclave, they were stopped and searched at every opportunity. This instilled fear into Turkish Cypriots who needed to travel outside their villages. Additionally, Turkish Cypriots suffered the harassment of nationalist Greek Cypriot officers at control points, airports and government offices. Greek Cypriot roadblocks outside the enclaves also became the focal point for countless missing persons cases. A specific example of Turkish Cypriot freedom of movement being restricted was outside the enclave of northern Nicosia (Lefkoşa). Here, Greek Cypriot police imposed fierce restrictions, making it nigh-on-impossible for the community to go in and out of their homes. The movement of Turkish Cypriots to and from Lefka (Lefke) was initially disallowed following the events of Bloody Christmas. However, this restriction was relaxed by October 1964, allowing Turkish Cypriots to travel eastwards, but not westwards, towards Limnitis (Yeşilırmak). Turkish Cypriot doctors were also not allowed to travel freely to carry out their profession and the Greek Cypriot government always insisted that they should be searched.
Turkish Cypriots bodily searched at Greek road block by Greek Cypriot soldiers & police
City of tents
Living in caves: Kokkina 1963-1974
How Turkish children grew up in a land of plenty

Images sourced from Genocide Files

The increasing number of refugees, restricted travel and ban on certain goods led to widening economic disparities between the two communities. Whilst the Greek Cypriot economy benefited from flourishing tourism and growth in their financial sectors, the Turkish Cypriots became increasingly impoverished, with unemployment increasing exponentially. The enclaves were put under economic embargoes by the Greek Cypriot administration, and trade between the two communities was completely blocked. Travel restrictions caused Turkish Cypriots to leave their previous jobs, losing them their source of income. The Turkish Cypriots had forcefully fallen from having political and sovereign equality to being racially discriminated against as a minority.

This period subsequently saw the beginning of aid from the Turkish government; by 1968, Turkey had provided £8,000,000 a year to Turkish Cypriots in order to maintain their survival.

Ultimately, the enclaves prove to be just one clear example of the Turkish Cypriot struggle. They were slaughtered, forced out of their homes, starved of resources and had their movement completely restricted. Even to this day, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus still face heavy embargoes as a result of the oppression of the Greek Cypriot government and their European friends. North Cyprus, despite being the ultimate refuge and homeland for Turkish Cypriots, is effectively treated like the enclaves were in 1963-1974. Its international isolation has lasted for 47 years with the Cyprus problem remaining unresolved indefinitely. The recent presidential appointment of Ersin Tatar, however, has injected new hope in Turkish Cypriots that their global exclusion may finally end. 

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