November 25, 2017

Statement by Mr. Menelaos Menelaou – 3rd Committee – Protection and Promotion of Human Rights

Item 72(b): Protection and Promotion of Human Rights – Human rights questions, including alternative 3rd-committee-menelaos-2approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms

United Nations, 30 October 2017

Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

My delegation subscribes to the statement delivered by the European Union. I would like to add the following remarks in my national capacity.

In the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, basic human rights were brutally violated, together with the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of my country.

Mr. Chairperson,

200,000 Greek Cypriots are Internally Displaced, denied the right to return to their homes and deprived of the full enjoyment of their homes and property rights. The unlawful exploitation of the properties of the displaced, in combination with Turkey’s deliberate policy of colonizing the occupied areas with more than 160,000 mainland Turkish settlers aim at further changing the demographic character of the island, in violation of international humanitarian law.

Enclaved persons, are now subjected to new violations of their fundamental freedoms and basic human rights. Since October 4th due to the imposition of “taxes /fees” on the humanitarian aid by the illegal regime, in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions and the 1975 Third Vienna Agreement, the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus is not in position to perform its task of delivering humanitarian aid to the enclaved persons.

Their right to education and to the freedom of religion continue to be violated on a daily base. Schoolbooks are frequently subject to censorship and teachers experience arbitrary rejections of their appointments. Churches and cemeteries are vandalized, worshippers are intimidated, requests to conduct religious services are arbitrarily rejected and priests are prevented from performing their duties.

Mr. Chairperson,

Missing persons and their families is a humanitarian issue of major concern. More than 2/3 of the remains of a total of 2001 missing persons are yet to be found/identified and returned to their families. Turkey must provide full unrestricted access to all areas, including fenced military areas, provide information that will lead to the location of the missing persons, as they were last seen in the custody of the Turkish military, including evidence of deliberate removal of remains of missing persons and launch an effective investigation to establish the fate and conditions of disappearance of missing persons.

Protection and preservation of the cultural heritage is imperative for the protection of cultural and human rights. Cyprus, who has suffered a widespread destruction and looting of religious and cultural heritage in the occupied areas, is especially proud for the adoption last May during its recent Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, of a new Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property (Nicosia Convention) which is instrumental as it addresses legal gaps that have so far made prevention and prosecution of trafficking in cultural property difficult.

Mr. Chairperson,

Cyprus is closely following the negative developments in Turkey after the attempted coup and is deeply concerned about the direct impact of the worsening of Turkey’s authoritarian policies, on the everyday life of the Cypriot citizens who live under Turkey’s illegal military occupation. Cyprus reiterates the need to respect democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in full compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

3rd-committee-menelaos-3Mr. Chairperson,

Cyprus remains committed to the comprehensive protection of human rights and the establishment of unconditional accountability for all human rights abuses. Full conformity with individual human rights standards for the people of Cyprus as a whole, regardless of their ethnic origin or religion, should be an integral element of any just, comprehensive, functional and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem. The desirable solution can only be achieved by ending the current unacceptable status quo and establishing a federal state in line with the relevant UNSC resolutions, free from foreign interventions and dependencies.

I thank you.