On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, violating all rules of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. The illegal Turkish invasion was carried out in two phases. During the second phase, Turkey took the city of Famagusta, under its control and illegally occupies over 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus ever since.
As a result of the Turkish military invasion and occupation, 162,000 Greek-Cypriots fled their homes becoming refugees in their own country. To this day the occupying forces impede the return of refugees to their homes and property. By the end of 1975, the vast majority of Turkish-Cypriots living in areas controlled by the legitimate government were forced to leave their homes and move, owing to Turkey’s coercive policy, to the Turkish-occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
20,000 Greek-Cypriots and Maronites chose not to leave their homes despite the Turkish occupation. Most of those who remained, mainly on the Karpasia Peninsula, were gradually forced to abandon the area. The number of Greek-Cypriots and Maronites currently living in the area has plummeted to 300 persons. This dramatic decrease in the number of enclaved people is striking considering that based on the agreement reached in Vienna on 2 August 1975, the Turkish side would have to provide the enclaved population with “every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and the practice of their religion, as well as medical care by their doctors of preference and freedom of movement in the North”. In breach of this agreement, on a practical level, the Turkish side subjected the enclaved to constant harassment, restrictions on movement, denial of access to adequate medical care, denial of adequate facilities for education, especially beyond elementary education, restrictions on the right to use their property and the free exercise of their religious rights. It was, thus, a deliberate policy of national cleansing, forcing the enclaved to flee their homes.
At the same time, Turkey has implemented a systematic policy of settlement of the occupied part of Cyprus since 1974 with the mass transfer of more than 160,000 Turks from Turkey in order to change the demographic profile and alter the population balance on the island. This policy, together with driving the Greek -Cypriot inhabitants out of the region, the destruction of the cultural heritage, and the illegal change of geographical place names in the occupied part of Cyprus, aims at the elimination of every single, centuries-old Greek and Christian element, and eventually the “turkification” of the region. It also aims to change the balance of power and the social fabric in the occupied part of Cyprus, to ensure that the Turkish-Cypriot leadership conforms to the policies of the Turkish government. With the mass migration of Turkish-Cypriots from the occupied territories, the total number of Turkish soldiers and settlers is now greater than the remaining Turkish-Cypriots.
In full accordance with Turkey’s stated goal of partition and national segregation on the island, on 15 November 1983, the occupying regime unilaterally declared the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, an act which was condemned by the international community as legally invalid. In particular, the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 541 (1983), rebuked this declaration, declared it legally invalid, and called for its reversal. The Security Council called on all states to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus and not to recognize any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus. Seriously concerned by the further separatist actions in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus, in violation of Resolution 541 (1983), such as the so-called exchange of ambassadors between Turkey and the legally invalid entity and the planned conduct of a “constitutional referendum” and “elections”, as well as the threats of illegal settlement of Varosha and other actions aimed at further consolidating the division of Cyprus the Security Council adopted Resolution 550 (1984) reaffirming Resolution 541 (1983) and reiterated its call on all states not to recognize the entity established by the separatist actions and at the same time called on them not to facilitate or in any way assist the separatist entity. At the same time, the Security Council described as unacceptable the attempts for the settlement of any part of Varosha by any persons other than its legal residents and called for the transfer of the area under the United Nations administration.
From a humanitarian point of view, the most tragic consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in the summer of 1974 is the missing persons. During and after the Turkish invasion, thousands of Greek-Cypriots were arrested and held in concentration camps in Cyprus by Turkish soldiers and paramilitaries, operating under the Turkish army. Also, more than 2,000 prisoners of war had been illegally transferred and held in prisons in Turkey. Some of them are still missing today. Hundreds of other Greek- Cypriots, both soldiers and civilians (including seniors, women, and children) have disappeared in Turkish-occupied areas and their fate is still unknown. In all these cases there are well-documented testimonies that the missing persons were last seen alive at the hands of the Turkish army or paramilitary groups, acting under the direction and responsibility of the Turkish occupying forces.