Turkish Cypriot Enclaves

The events of Bloody Christmas in December 1963 caused over 25,000 Turkish Cypriots to flee their villages from EOKA terrorism and pro-Enosis brutality. The only way Turkish Cypriots could escape the Greek Cypriot onslaught was by taking refuge in enclaves across the island

After the Turkish Cypriots refused to accept Makarios’s 13 Constitutional Changes, they were not only forced out of government, but from their homes and mosques. The activation of the Akritas Plan and the traumatic events of Bloody Christmas led to the Turkish Cypriot people having no representation, political identity or equal rights within their own homeland, despite being given these assurances under the 1960 constitution.

The total number of villages evacuated by Turkish Cypriots reached 103. But why were they attacked? A simple answer is – they were Turkish Cypriot. Turkish Cypriots were seen as an obstacle in achieving two things: Enosis (Cyprus’s union with Greece) and unilateral Greek Cypriot rule. Therefore, the Turkish Cypriots had to be removed.

The Turkish Cypriot people had no other choice but to flee into a number of enclaves around the island; the enclaves were the only way Turkish Cypriots could live safely and securely. These areas became a safe haven for Turkish Cypriot men, women and children, protected from Greek Cypriot efforts of ethnic cleansing – similar to today’s TRNC. Despite making up approximately 20% of the population on the island, the Turkish Cypriot people were now only living in 3% of Cypriot land

Photos highlight the living conditions within these Turkish Cypriot enclaves – shown in the ‘The Genocide Files’ by Harry Scott Gibbons

Despite the Turkish Cypriots now being more protected from racial attacks, their suffering and struggle continued within the enclaves. The now Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus did everything in its power to worsen the living conditions for Turkish Cypriots across the island. Makarios III, president of Cyprus, implemented many laws and regulations that impoverished the Turkish Cypriot people and were used as a way to force Turkish Cypriots off the island. If they did not leave the island, the laws would at least get them to submit to unilateral Greek Cypriot rule.

On the 7th October 1964, Makarios III banned the possession of several items from Turkish Cypriots as well as the entrance of these items into the enclaves. A list of these goods were as follows:

Not only were Turkish Cypriots banned from having these items, but they were also restricted from travelling outside their enclaves (1963-1974). As stated by the UN Secretary General in 1964, the Greek Cypriot police committed “excessive checks and searches and apparently unnecessary obstructions”. Whenever a Turkish Cypriot left their enclave, they were stopped and searched at every opportunity. This installed fear into Turkish Cypriots who needed to travel outside their villages. Turkish Cypriots also suffered the harassment of nationalist Greek Cypriot officers at control points, airports and government offices. Greek Cypriot roadblocks outside the enclaves also became the focal point for countless missing persons cases.

A specific example of Turkish Cypriot freedom of movement being restricted was outside the enclave of northern Nicosia. Here, Greek Cypriot police imposed fierce restrictions, making it nigh-on-impossible for the community to go in and out of their homes. The movement of Turkish Cypriots to and from Lefka was initially disallowed following the events of Bloody Christmas. However, this restriction was relaxed by October 1964 allowing Turkish Cypriots to travel eastwards, but not westwards, towards Limnitis. Turkish Cypriot doctors were also not allowed to travel freely to carry out their profession and the Greek Cypriot government always insisted that they should be searched.

Photo credit – The Genocide Files

The increasing number of refugees, restricted travel and ban on certain goods led to widening economic disparities between the two communities. Whilst the Greek Cypriot economy benefited from flourishing tourism and growth in their financial sectors, the Turkish Cypriots became increasingly impoverished; unemployment increased exponentially. The enclaves were put under economic embargoes by the Greek Cypriot administration and trade between the two communities was completely blocked. Travel restrictions caused Turkish Cypriots to leave their previous jobs, losing them their source of income. The Turkish Cypriots had gone from having political and sovereign equality to being racially discriminated against as a minority.

This period then saw the beginning of aid from the Turkish government – by 1968, Turkey provided £8,000,000 a year to Turkish Cypriots in order to maintain their survival. 

Overall, the enclaves provide a clear example of Turkish Cypriot struggle. They were slaughtered, forced out of their homes, starved of resources and had their movement completely restricted. Even to this day, the TRNC still face heavy embargoes due to the oppression of the Greek Cypriot government and their European friends. North Cyprus, despite being the ultimate refuge and homeland for Turkish Cypriots, is effectively treated like the enclaves were in 1963-1974. Its international isolation has lasted for 47 years with the Cyprus problem remaining unresolved indefinitely. However, the recent presidential appointment of Ersin Tatar has injected hope in Turkish Cypriots that their global exclusion may finally end.