In 1974, the Turkish Army invaded Cyprus over fears that the Greek junta would try to annex the island. Any excuse for Turkish forces to remain in Cyprus quickly evaporated, however, when the Greek junta collapsed and Greece reverted to democracy. Still, Turkish forces remained on the island in pursuit of a long campaign of ethnic and sectarian cleansing. Today, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the proxy state that Turkey established, controls one-third of the island.
While the international community recognizes Greek Cypriots as victims of Turkish aggressions—no country other than Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus’ sovereignty—the island’s ethnic Greeks are not Turkey’s only victims. Rather, Turkey now appears to be pursuing a campaign of cultural genocide against the island’s traditional Turkish community.
Shortly after the Turkish invasion, Turkish settlers began arriving in northern Cyprus. The Turkish government, eager to bolster the numbers of ethnic Turks and Muslims on the island, encouraged the migration. Many were poor agricultural workers who moved into the houses left behind by Greek Cypriots.
While there has been no legitimate census, many estimates say the Turkish settlers and their offspring make up half the population of the Turkish-occupied zone. Speculation grew in recent years, however, that settlers could outnumber true Turkish Cypriots. Such conjecture is correct. While great sensitivity surrounds the topic, sources say the true number of Turkish Cypriots today number approximately 90,000 while the settlers now number between 160,000-200,000.
The reason for the acceleration of settlement, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions notwithstanding, is a deliberate decision by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to drown out Turkish Cypriots. His methods differ and the scale is smaller, but what Turkey now does in northern Cyprus is not in its outcome far different from what the Han Chinese do in Xinjiang.
Read more: National Interest