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This article covers the civilian casualties and displacements that occurred between 1963 and 1975 — from the outbreak of the intercommunal fighting until the end of displacements following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

1963-64: Turkish Cypriot Withdrawal from the Government

In November 1963, president Makarios suggested constitutional amendments in thirteen different clauses be introduced to the Government Assembly for voting. Most of the amendments were aimed at fairly balancing out the political rights of both Cypriot communities, based on their proportion of the island's population. This had been completely disregarded in the constitution of 1960 . The constitution had been based on the principle of the existence of two different communities in Cyprus: The Greek Cypriots (Christian Orthodox - 82% of the total population), and the Turkish Cypriots (Muslim - 18% of the population). For instance, the judicial and municipal services were run by people from the respective communities within the existing order. The number of officials, MPs, soldiers, and police were determined on a 70%-30% basis. The amendments involved a transition to a state with less separate political rights for any single community. While Makarios took firm measures , the Turkish Cypriot leaders showed absolutely no interest in negotiating. Thus they abandoned the parliament and all other institutions, beating the drum and accusing the other side that "they have thrown us out of the republic" (to this day, the seats reserved for the Turks are still empty in the Assembly of Republic of Cyprus). While Greek Cypriots hold that this happened voluntarily, Turkish Cypriots claim they were forced out of government and its agencies by the Greek Cypriot authorities. During this and the following year , fighting occasionally flared up between the two communities, more and more enforcing a separation and alienation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

On December 21, 1963, serious violence erupted in Nicosiamarker when a Greek Cypriot police patrol, checking identification documents, stopped a Turkish Cypriot couple on the edge of the Turkish quarter. A hostile crowd gathered, shots were fired, and three people (two Turkish Cypriots and one Greek Cypriot) were killed. As the news spread, members of underground organizations began firing and taking hostages. North of Nicosia, Turkish forces occupied a strong position at St. Hilarion Castlemarker, dominating the road to Kyreniamarker on the northern coast. The road became a principal combat area as both sides fought to control it. Much intercommunal fighting occurred in Nicosia along the line separating the Greek and Turkish quarters of the city (known later as the Green Line).

Severe intercommunal fighting occurred in March and April 1964. When the worst of the fighting was over, Turkish Cypriots began moving from isolated rural areas and mixed villages into enclaves. Turkish Cypriots state that the hostilities forced such an amalgamation while the Greek Cypriots state that the Turkish Cypriots did so without any pressure from them, but rather by the Turkish Cypriot paramilitary organization TMT so that to apply uniformity. It is believed by progressive Cypriots that both events occurred. Before long, a substantial portion of the island's Turkish Cypriot population was crowded into the Turkish quarter of Nicosia and other enclaves, in tents and hastily constructed shacks . Slum conditions resulted from the serious overcrowding.

Attempts of the Cypriot National Guard under control of General George Grivas, who claimed to be acting under a mandate given to Cyprus by the UN, to re-capture a beach-head at the Kokkina/Erenköy enclavemarker which the Turkish Cypriots claimed was their last link with the outside world but the Greek Cypriots feared would be used as a landing post for Turkish mainland forces, caused an intervention by the Turkish Airforce. On August 8-August 9, Turkey bombed the Tylliria area for two days, using napalm bombs, resulting in the death of 33 Greek Cypriots and 230 injuries.

In total, some 133 Greek Cypriots and 191 Turkish Cypriots are known to have been killed in 1963 and 1964. 209 Turkish Cypriots and 41 Greeks were reported as missing. Nearly 20,000 Turkish Cypriots, about one sixth of the Turkish Cypriot population, left their homes to live into enclaves. Finally, more than 3000 Armenian ethnics who had been living in the areas of Nicosia that came under the control of Turkish paramilitaries were forced out of their homes.

1974: Coup d'Etat and the Turkish invasion

With the coup d'état of April 21, 1967, Greecemarker entered a period under the rule of the Colonels' Junta.

On 15 July 1974, the Republic of Cyprus government was overthrown by the Greek Cypriot national guard acting under orders from the Greek junta. The Greek junta installed an EOKA veteran and a member of the Cyprus Parliament, Nikos Sampson as the new president. The attempt to murder president Makarios failed, however, and he fled Cyprus with the help of the British army.

On 20 July 1974, in response to the coup, Turkish troops landed near Kyreniamarker, forcing a narrow corridor to Nicosiamarker within 2 days, until a ceasefire was negotiated on 22 July. On the second day of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus the Colonels' Junta collapsed. Karamanlis returned from Paris and formed his civilian Government. In Cyprusmarker, Nikos Sampson resigned and Glafkos Clerides took over the presidency as acting president, according to the 1960 Constitution.

In August of the same year, almost a month after the coup had dissolved the three guarantor powers, together with representatives of the two communities, met in Geneva. The Turkish Cypriots under Rauf Denktaş demanded a federal state with 34% of the territory ceded to Turkish Cypriots. Glafkos Klerides - the Greek Cypriot representative - asked for 36 to 48 hours in order to consult with his superiors. While still in talks, a second Turkish invasion was launched on Cyprus. When a ceasefire was declared, more than 36% of the territory was occupied by Turkish forces. The ceasefire line of 1974 today still separates the two communities and is generally referred to as the Green Line , and also runs through Nicosia, making it the only divided capital in the world.

The Turkish Army conducted a policy of ethnic cleansing consisting of wholesale attacks and massacres of the Greek population of the territories that came under Turkish military population in an attempt to terrorise the Greek population into evacuating these areas. The wholesale massacres carried by the Turkish army and Turkish Cypriot paramilitary groups against the Greeks of Cyprus spawned a limited number of similar attacks against Turkish civilians in the south by small groups of Greek Cypriot paramilitaries. In the small village of Tochnimarker, all men between the ages of 13 and 74 were found shot.. Likewise other mass graves were exhumed in the villages of Aloa, Sandalarismarker and Maratha containing women and children..

The total number of Greek Cypriot casualties of the 1974 invasion was near 5000, of whom 1619 were reported as missing and the rest as killed. 160,000-200,000 Greek Cypriots became refugees. At the same time, 50,000-60,000 defying a policy of the Cypriot government prohibiting their movement into the Turkish controlled areas also left their homes and headed north.

Legal challenges

In 1976 and in 1983 Cyprus challenged Turkey at the European Court of Human Rightsmarker over a number of issues, including missing civilian Greek Cypriots, of which Cyprus claimed there were at least 1491. The ECHR concluded that there was a presumption that Turkey had a responsibility for clarifying the fate of civilians last known to be under its control, but also that there was "no proof that any of the missing persons were killed in circumstances for which [Turkey] could be held responsible; nor did the Commission findany evidence to the effect that any of the persons taken into custody were still being detained or kept in servitude by [Turkey]". A further 1994 case brought by Cyprus, on which judgement was made in 2001, concluded that Turkey continued to offer insufficient support in clarifying the fate of missing Cypriots. A new case was brought in 2009, following comments by Turkish actor Attila Olgac about committing war crimes during his service in Cyprus, although Olgac later retracted the remarks, saying he had been testing public reaction to a TV script.

In 2006, owing to the potential huge number of law suits against Turkey, the European Court of Human Rightsmarker called on Turkey in December to find "effective domestic remedies" for the mass displacement of Greek Cypriots. The result was a property commission established by the Turkish Cypriots purportedly offering right of return of Greek Cypriot properties so long as the property was unoccupied, or not in an area of military significance. A small number of applicants have received compensation. The Greek Cypriots have refused to recognise the commission as a proper means of redress, with some politicians going as far to suggest treason for those who accept. The European Court of Human Rightsmarker has yet to rule whether it considers that the so called property commission and the law by which it was set up is indeed in line with the provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights.


Further reading

Note that the information provided by the sources below are highly disputed:

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