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The Missing of Cyprus— A Distinctive Case Adamantia Pollis In recent years the disappeared have become of major international concern as a human rights issue. Most instances of the disappeared, such as those in Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile, which invariably involve the civilian population, have resulted from repressive tactics which are designed by governments to terrorize their population into submission to military or authoritarian rule. They are extreme forms of state terrorism perpetrated by a government on its own people. There are exceptions, however, in which the disappeared, or more accurately the missing, are a result of mUitary action on the part of a foreign state. Among current instances on the international agenda are Vietnam and Cyprus. In both cases the missing are a result of armed conflict. In the case of Vietnam, at least until recently, the government has refused to provide any accounting of missing United States servicemen or to permit any investigation of them. In the case of Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriots initially rejected any investigation into the Greek Cypriot missing because of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, while throughout the ensuing 16 years procedural haggling and stalling has blocked any meaningful progress on the issue. In terms of magnitude the two cases are extremely different. There are 1,618 missing Greek Cypriots from 1974 and between 600 and 900 more alleged by the Turkish Cypriots, some from 1963-64 and some from 1974. As of the end of the Vietnam war in 1973, there were 2,583 missing in all of southeast Asia. In addition to the obvious disproportion between the total populations of the two countries, in the case of the United States, the missing resulted from an undeclared war that lasted more than eight years, while in the case of Cyprus the missing resulted primarily from an armed conflict that lasted only a few days. Moreover, while all the Americans missing in southeast Asia were military combatants, the Greek Cypriot missing consist of 992 soldiers and 626 civilians of whom 112 are women. Twenty-six were Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 9, 1991. 43 44 Adamantia Pollis under the age of 16 at the time they disappeared (Pancyprian Committee 1987). Perhaps more comparable to the situation in Cyprus is that of East Timor where, as a result of periodic Indonesian military action beginning toward the end of 1975, there are hundreds of disappeared civilians (Amnesty International 1985). While the existence of disappeared persons is considered a gross violation of the basic right to life, and while an accounting of the disappeared is recognized as a right of their families, the issue of the Cypriot missing has been perceived and acted on as a political matter inextricably intertwined with the broader issue of resolving the Cyprus problem. The Cypriot government, the Turkish Cypriot leadership and to a lesser extent the Greek Cypriot leadership, the Greek and Turkish governments, the United States, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe basically view a solution to the missing of Cyprus as contingent upon a political settlement of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot conflict rather than as a human rights issue per se. This is not to say that there has been no international concern for the Cypriot missing as a humanitarian issue. The United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the European Communities have all addressed the matter , but any actions taken have been tepid at best. It seems axiomatic to state that all the disappeared, whether as a result of actions by a repressive state, as in Argentina, or of a war, as in Vietnam, are political by nature. But by contrast to Cyprus, the issue of the missing in southeast Asia has been depoliticized and is being dealt with as a human rights issue. Negotiations between the United States and Vietnam for an accounting of the missing Americans have resulted in 279 of them (242 from Vietnam and the remainder from other areas of southeast Asia) being traced as of March 1990 and the return of many remains.1 The stalemate on the issue of the missing in Cyprus, i.e. the persistence of considering it in political rather than in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 43-62
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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