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Α meeting on ''Cyprus and the Human Rights of Refugees--Property Rights and Cultural Heritage,'' was held at the House of Commons, to highlight the plight of refugees from the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, which called on the British and the European Parliaments to take action in compliance with decisions of European courts.

A press release issued by the Lobby for Cyprus said the meeting was sponsored by Rudi Vis MP for Finchley and Golders Green and was organised by Ayios Amvrosios Association (UK) in collaboration with Lobby for Cyprus.

The specific aim of the meeting was to call attention to the plight of the refugees from Ayios Amvrosios, in the Kyrenia district, their desire to return to their homes, and to discuss ways of ending the illegal exploitation of the homes and properties of refugees in the north of Cyprus, especially in light of the judgment of the ECJ, in the recent ''Apostolides v Orams case,'' which found for the Greek Cypriot family whose property was sold to a British couple who built a home on it. The Court ruled that the property still belonged to the Apostolides family despite their enforced absence by the Turkish government and was sold illegally and that the structure be destroyed.

Earlier, representatives of the Association presented to 10 Downing Street a copy of the petition to the European Committee of Human Rights in which it asked for the British and European Parliaments to take necessary measures to end the illegal expropriation of the stolen homes and properties in the small town of Ayios Amvrosios, in the northern coast of Cyprus, currently under Turkish military occupation.

The petition called attention to the ''massive explosion of construction of holiday homes and hotels on our lands and properties, without our consent.'' In addition to pointing out the illegal acts by Turkey regarding the illegal use of their property, the petition called attention to the destruction of ''our cultural inheritance and environment [that] are devastated beyond comprehension.'' Finally, it called ''for the EU's active involvement and participation in all efforts to terminate the military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus and facilitate the safe return of all refugees to their homes without pre-conditions and fear of discrimination.''

Speaking at the House of Commons meeting, MP Roger Gale MP spoke of his deep shame that most purchasers in the illegal sales of property in the north of Cyprus were British.

MP Rudi Vis stated that it was not a Cyprus problem but a Turkish problem and spoke of his disappointment in the stance of the British government on this issue. He said he is not optimistic at the outcome of the talks due to the intransigence of Turkey and the inability of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to make any decisions without the approval of Turkey.

Disappointment was also voiced against the stance of the Turkish government by MP Eddie O'Hara who felt that the obstacle to a solution was Turkey who would not give up its hold on Cyprus lightly. He also expressed his frustration at the persistent refusal of the authorities in the occupied north to allow renovation work of monuments and architectural buildings that are in need of urgent restoration.

Referring to the ECJ decision in the Apostolides v Orams case MPE Charles Tannock called it a great decision that was 100% binding and had his political support.

MP Andrew Dismore who visited Cyprus late last year, witnessed the degree of damage and disrepair suffered by churches in the occupied north, and was saddened by how the authorities in the occupied north would not allow religious freedoms and rites to be exercised in Greek Orthodox and Maronite churches.

Ayios Amvrosios Association is a UK based refugee organisation, whose members are predominantly refugees or their descendants, originating from the town of Ayios Amvrosios, 20 km east of Kyrenia. The pre-invasion population of the town was around 2,000, all of whom have been forcibly removed by the Turkish military and replaced by colonists from Turkey and the Balkans.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

Financial Mirror, June 10, 2009|||Cyprus refugees ask British and European Parliaments to take action
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