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Interruption of the Christmas mass in the northern occupied part of Cyprus by Turkish troops and restrictions to the right to freedom of religion and worship

Written declaration No. 467 | Doc. 12505 | 27 January 2011

Mr Christos POURGOURIDES, Cyprus, EPP/CD ; Mr Miloš ALIGRUDIĆ, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Mr Denis BADRÉ, France, ALDE ; Ms Marieluise BECK, Germany, ALDE ; Ms Marie-Louise BEMELMANS-VIDEC, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Mr Laurent BÉTEILLE, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Fernand BODEN, Luxembourg, EPP/CD ; Ms Olena BONDARENKO, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Luxembourg, ALDE ; Mr Márton BRAUN, Hungary, EPP/CD ; Mr Georges CHARALAMBOPOULOS, Greece, SOC ; Ms Lolita ČIGĀNE, Latvia, EPP/CD ; Ms Ingrida CIRCENE, Latvia, EPP/CD ; Mr Georges COLOMBIER, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Nikolaos DENDIAS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Mr Karl DONABAUER, Austria, EPP/CD ; Mr Tuur ELZINGA, Netherlands, UEL ; Mr Erich Georg FRITZ, Germany, EPP/CD ; Mr Giuseppe GALATI, Italy, EPP/CD ; Mr Jean-Charles GARDETTO, Monaco, EPP/CD ; Ms Gisèle GAUTIER, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD ; Ms Claude GREFF, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Andreas GROSS, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Holger HAIBACH, Germany, EPP/CD ; Mr Norbert HAUPERT, Luxembourg, EPP/CD ; Mr Andres HERKEL, Estonia, EPP/CD ; Mr Serhiy HOLOVATY, Ukraine, ALDE ; Ms Anette HÜBINGER, Germany, EPP/CD ; Mr Andrej HUNKO, Germany, UEL ; Ms Liana KANELLI, Greece, UEL ; Ms Marietta KARAMANLI, France, SOC ; Mr Michail KATRINIS, Greece, SOC ; Ms Charoula KEFALIDOU, Greece, SOC ; Ms Elvira KOVÁCS, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Mr Tiny KOX, Netherlands, UEL ; Mr Franz Eduard KÜHNEL, Austria, EPP/CD ; Mr Jaakko LAAKSO, Finland, UEL ; Mr Dariusz LIPIŃSKI, Poland, EPP/CD ; Mr Pietro MARCENARO, Italy, SOC ; Ms Christine MARIN, France, EPP/CD ; Ms Muriel MARLAND-MILITELLO, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Dick MARTY, Switzerland, ALDE ; Mr Frano MATUŠIĆ, Croatia, EPP/CD ; Sir Alan MEALE, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Evangelos MEIMARAKIS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Mr José MENDES BOTA, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Mr Jean-Claude MIGNON, France, EPP/CD ; Mr João Bosco MOTA AMARAL, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Mr Pasquale NESSA, Italy, EPP/CD ; Mr Pieter OMTZIGT, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Ms Elsa PAPADIMITRIOU, Greece, EPP/CD ; Ms Zaruhi POSTANJYAN, Armenia, EPP/CD ; Mr John PRESCOTT, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr François ROCHEBLOINE, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Rudy SALLES, France, EPP/CD ; Ms Marina SCHUSTER, Germany, ALDE ; Mr Serhiy SOBOLEV, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Ms Melinda SZÉKYNÉ SZTRÉMI, Hungary, EPP/CD ; Mr Latchezar TOSHEV, Bulgaria, EPP/CD ; Mr Egidijus VAREIKIS, Lithuania, EPP/CD ; Mr Konstantinos VRETTOS, Greece, SOC ; Mr Piotr WACH, Poland, EPP/CD ; Ms Katrin WERNER, Germany, UEL ; Ms Renate WOHLWEND, Liechtenstein, EPP/CD ; Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, Lithuania, EPP/CD

On 25 December, the Christmas mass celebrated in the villages of Rizokarpaso and Ayia Triada, in the occupied part of Cyprus, was interrupted by Turkish troops, who forced the priest to remove his vestments, ordered all people present to leave the church and then sealed the doors.

Following that, Church masses, from New Year’s Eve up until Epiphany day, were not allowed. Additionally, a new “procedure” is now established by the occupation regime, whereby prior authorization should be sought, 30 days in advance, for all other religious celebrations, except on Sundays.

These events and restrictions, constitute a flagrant violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Resolution 1333 (2003 of the Parliamentary Assembly, on the rights and fundamental freedoms of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of Cyprus and the recent Declaration by the Committee of Ministers, on religious freedom.

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn these acts, and call upon Turkey to urgently inform the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, of the measures it intends to undertake, to ensure that such acts, against the approximately 300 enclaved Greek Cypriots, will not be repeated and that any restrictions to their alienable right to freedom of religion and worship will immediately be withdrawn.