Koray Basdogrultmaci and Cinel Senem Husseyin, a Turkish-Speaking Cypriot couple, were charged for hanging the Cyprus Republic's flag outside their home and shop in Famagusta in June 2013. They were arrested and put in jail on June 21st 2013 and their original trial was postponed until June 11th 2014.
"Northern Cyprus is legally part of the Republic of Cyprus and the whole world recognizes it this way," explains Oz Karajan from LINOBAMBAKI organization, "but in 1974 Turkey illegally occupied the area and declared a de facto government that is recognized only by Turkey."
According to Karajan, there are 70,000 Turkish-speaking Cypriots living in Cyprus and 300,000 living in United Kingdom. "This number shows that Turks made them leave the island," says Karajan, "Turks are getting rid of Turkish-speaking Cypriots who are owners on the island to achieve full control of the occupied areas."
Karajan explains that the Turkish occupation is affecting people's daily lives and this specific case shows their misuse of legislative power.
On June 20th 2013, Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, had flown the Cypriot flag during the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey. There was no problem with him doing this so the couple wanted to protest his hypocrisy so they hung up three flags.
"Why is it free to open Republic of Cyprus flags in Turkey but not in my own country?" says Cinel Senem Husseyin who is outraged by the hypocrisy. "By doing this demonstration we wanted to remind Turkey's role here," Hysseying explains.
According to Karajan, the area where the couple lives and works, Turkish-speaking Cypriots were forced to move into the Northern area of Cyprus to show that the occupation is legitimate. "But these people aren't ethnically or culturally Turk," says Karajan, "they don't like to live under Turkish authorities and they want to reunify with the Republic of Cyprus again."
Karajan refers to the situation as, "systematic and well engineered oppression in 40 years and leave their homeland to illegal occupation authorities and their illegal settlers."
"We believe that the island is one and can't be divided and it can't be joined to another country," says Husseyin speaking for her husband and herself, "We believe that the Republic of Cyprus belongs to all Cypriots and the landscape belongs to all Cypriots."
The court hearing keeps getting postponed for a different reason each time. On April 9th in 2014, a new judge asked the couple to apologize and in turn they would only receive a small fine. However they refused, facing a greater fine and potential imprisonment. The most recent hearing was postponed because of a missing witness. The next court hearing will be held on April 13th 2015.
The couple and their friends, including Tina Adamidou, have tried to contact authorities in Cyprus and the European Court of Human Rights with the plea to dismiss the charges of public disorder. They sent letters to:
- EU Parliament President, Martin Schultz
- EU Parliament Social & Democratic Leader, Hannes Swoboda
- EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood, Stefan Fule
- EU Parliament co leader of the Green Party, Daniel Cohn-Benit
- Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Ahmet Davutohlu
- Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon
- President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasides
- Leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community in Cyprus, Dervis Eroglu
None of these people responded and the couple continues to fight fort their cause with little support. They have an online petition and hope to gain at least some support. Koray and Cinel truly believe that they have done nothing wrong and worry about what will happen to their two young children if they get charged with time in prison.