Australian Turkish Cypriot Cultural and Welfare Association
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Welcome to the web site of the Australians from North Cyprus

The Cultural Heritage Of The Turkish Cypriots

In 1570 the Turkish administration of the Ottoman Empire took over the whole of Cyprus, and in the following three hundred years new form of Turkish buildings appeared all over the island. These consisted mainly of mosques, aqueducts, tekkes, caravan serays, schools, libraries, turbes and forts. The Turks were not interested in building pyramids and triumphal arches, but more in works of social welfare. For example, in Gazimagusa the Governor, Lala Mustafa Pasha, set about installing a proper system of water supply for the inhabitants. One can see today many public fountains at street corners, not only in Gazimagusa but in Lefkosa and in other main towns.Libraries were established by foundations in cultural centres. The founders of these libraries were mostly statesmen, scientists, and various humanitarians. In addition to being housed in special buildings, mosques and metrese's were also used. A fine example of this is the famous Sultan Mahmut Library in Lefkosa.
Also, during this period 1571 to 1878, numerous craftsmen from Anatolia came to settle in the island, and they spread their cultural activities to most towns and villages. In many old houses of the Ottoman Empire period one can see their work of art in the form of household utensils, tiles, curtains, carpets, pottery, and furniture.

North Cyprus is a country in which the traditional ceremonies associated with birth, childhood, circumcision, marriage, and death still exist. The traces of Islamic beliefs can easily be observed in these ceremonies. Customs concerned with the important events in people's lives, from birth to death, show different characteristics according to the geographical, economic, and local features.Special ceremonies are held for every important event in one's life. These ceremonies express the effect of one's birth, marriage, and death on others and on society.

The beliefs and customs relating to religion and seasonal bayrams (religious holidays) have great influence on Turkish society. They provide unity and solidarity, and also a means of entertainment. Some Turkish traditions and customs have been added to the celebration of religious bayrams. Special kinds of food and desserts are prepared. Gifts are given to those who abide by the custom of kissing hands. Relatives and friends visit each other. Rejoicing with the drum and horn are other interesting events that occur during these bayrams.

Folk dances are the expression of feelings, thoughts, and enjoyment of the people. They are also essential elements of everyday life.The origin of folk dancing is very old. It may even be said to be related to shamanist ceremonies and early religious and incantational worship. Different characteristics may be noticed because of geographical and local features. Turkish folk dances have many different names. They are named according to dance style, musicians, dancers, regions, and themes.

When British came to Cyprus in 1878, they introduced and managed to apply a relatively fair administrative system in the island. Under the system both the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot peoples were able to retain and develop their peculiar cultural futures and national identities.
In 1903, during the first session of the Legislative Council, the Greek Cypriot members tabled a resolution expressing "the will of the Greek Cypriot people to unite with mother Greece". The Turkish Cypriots strongly opposed the idea of "Enosis" the union with Greece. So Turkish Cypriots have resisted this and their aim was and still is, nothing more than any civilized and dignified people would wish, which is to live in their own country as human beings, in security and in safety without fear as to their future. In 1912 intercommunal fighting erupted. Result: 139 people killed or wounded. In 1931 Cyprus witnessed more clashes thorought the island. In 1948 Makarios set up the "Ethnarchy Bureau" to campaign actively for "Enosis and only Enosis", the same year Turkish Cypriots held a series of meetings and rallies against Greek Cypriot demands. After several unsuccessful attempts by Greece and the Greek Cypriots to bring the Cyprus matter before the U.N. in 1954, 1955 and later in 1958 it was decided that the best thing was to have a compromised settlement. So Greek and Turkish Cypriots had the Zurich and London Agreements in 1959.

Events leading to the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus was established in1960 as abi-national state based on the existence of two nationalcommunities. The Constitution of the Republic providesfor the joint participation of the two communities in the Executive,Legislative and Judicial organs of the State and the two peoples have equal rights in the sovereignty and territory of the Republic. However, following the Greek/Greek Cypriot armed onslaught against the Turkish Cypriot People in December 1963, aimed at eliminating the Turkish Cypriots from all of the organs of the state, the Turkish Cypriots were forced into enclaves where they established their own administration, as it is described by the Greek Cypriot author Zenon Stavrinides, in his book "The Cyprus Conflict-National Identity and Statehood":
".... intercommunal fighting broke out in December 1963, thus bringing about the collapse of the unitary Greco - Turkish State of Cyprus. Within the armed enclaves which the Turks created, a system of political, administrative, judical, social and other institutions was set up,which eventually took almost all the organic characteristics of a small state. The Greeks ofcourse, refused to recognise it, and the Turks did not ask for recognition from other countries.... But although it lacked the name of a state what the Turkish Cypriots created was in essence a small national state, existing within defended borders, with its own Goverment, public services and even luxuries.....Dr Kutchuk headed the Turkish Cypriot Administration until 1973, when he was succeeded by Mr Rauf Denktash."
[Greek Cypriot author, Zenon Stavrinides, "The Cyprus Conflict-National Identity and Statehood" p.56]

Therefore TRNC is not a product of an "invasion" as alleged by the Greek Cypriots, but a product of the: "Greek terrorism [which] is relentless... At four o'clock in the afternoon, curfew is imposed on the Turkish villages. Threats, shootings and attempts at arson start as soon as it becomes dark. After the massacre of christmas that spared neither women nor children, it is difficult to put up any resistance.
(Prof. P.Oberling, "The Road to Bellapais", Page 101)

As a result of this, the Turkish Cypriot members of the Goverment and the public service were forcible ousted from their offices and never allowed to return. Their positions were subsequently filled in by Greek Cypriots and the machinery of goverment of the Republic of Cyprus was thus illegally usurped by the Greek Cypriot element of the bi-national State.

In September 1964, the U.N. Secretary-General reported to the Security Council the EXPULSION of all Turkish Cypriots from the State machinery of the Republic of Cyprus.
(U.N.Document S/5950)

Thus, the 1963 Greek Cypriot armed attacks against their Turkish Cypriot partners had left the Turkish Cypriot People without the roof of a State and without the protection of a Government, therefore the Turkish Cypriots had no alternative but to establish their own administration in 1964.
Following the The Greek engineered coup d'etat of 15th July 1974 constituted the culmination of Greek Cypriot efforts to unite the island with Greece, Turkish intervension, carried out in accordance with the Treaty rights and obligations of Turkey to protect the Turkish Cypriot People, put an end to the de facto superiority of the Greek Cypriot Administration.
After a long wait for the Greek Cypriots to come to terms to re-establish a partnership state, the people of Northern Cyprus finally exercised their right of self-determination and declared their independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983.

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