Displacement in Cyprus. Life Stories: Turkish Cypriot Community

PRIO Report

Bryant, Rebecca (2012) Displacement in Cyprus. Life Stories: Turkish Cypriot Community. PRIO Cyprus Centre Report: 2. Nicosia : PRIO Cyprus Centre.

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Over the past half century, Cyprus has experienced several waves of displacement that have uprooted villages, severed ties of people and land, and remade the social geography of the island. For the more than 215,000 Cypriots who have been displaced, the flight from their homes and resettlement elsewhere is both a lasting personal trauma and, for many, a political cause. For some, there is a desire for return; for others, there is an insistence on remaining where they are and a refusal to be displaced again. These desires are reflected in media and political rhetoric and shape the ways that many Cypriot displaced persons perceive not only the political future but also their own experiences of loss and uprooting. Moreover, the division of the island led to almost three decades in which Cypriots on either side of the Green Line emphasized their own suffering and loss while unable to see what those in the other community had experienced.

The PRIO project ‘Displacement in Cyprus: Consequences of Civil and Military Strife’ brings together the life stories of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who underwent displacement. Our aim is to enable a better understanding of what members of the other community experienced, as well as how those experiences shape their lives today and their hopes for the future. This report summarizes the findings of thirty life history interviews with Turkish Cypriots displaced from the island’s south to the north. Part I provides an introduction to Turkish Cypriot displacement, including a brief history of that displacement and a summary of factors shaping the ways in which Turkish Cypriots think about and recount that uprooting today. Part II then provides summaries of ten of those stories in order to give the reader insight into the variety of experiences of displacement and resettlement. And while routes of displacement and modes of resettlement are varied, there are certain convergent visions of the future as a result of these experiences, which are summarized in Part III. In that concluding section, the report addresses ways in which Turkish Cypriot displaced persons are now envisioning the future, including their own potential displacement in the event of a negotiated settlement.

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