Monday, January 24, 2011

A big "thank you" to Boy George by Fanoulla Argyrou

The news that popular singer Boy George has returned a looted icon he had in his possession after buying it in good faith from a shop in King’s Road in London almost 26 years ago, after being informed by the Church of Cyprus of its real origin and fate, is highly appreciated by the Greek nation. George’s decision to return the looted precious icon to the Church of Cyprus has once again brought to the front line news the barbaric Turkish crimes committed since and after the two bloody Turkish invasions of Cyprus in 1974.

A bulk of barbaric crimes, murders, rapes, bombardment and executions in cold blood also included the destruction and looting of hundreds of Christian churches and religious places in occupied Cyprus where in the process thousands of priceless icons and other religious artefacts have been systematically looted. And smuggled out of the island ruthlessly sold in the black market. They even tried to sell some of these in reputable Auction Houses.

Readers are referred to “The Guardian” report “The rape of northern Cyprus ”, of 6th May 1976 which published horrific details of the desecration, looting and vandalism of our occupied churches in the occupied by Turkey part of Cyprus . The article referred to an ITV (Independent Television) documentary of those days. It said “As UNESCO suppressed an expert report on Turkish treatment of the churches of northern Cyprus , a TV team slipped away from surveillance and brought back grim evidence of looting and desecration for ITV’s This Week Tonight, Thames TV correspondent John Fielding reports…”
Readers are also referred to Michalle A Vu’s report published in “The Christian Post”, 28 April 2008 titled “The last church standing in occupied Cyprus ”. The following are extracts: “… According to the Republic of Cyprus , in the span of three decades under Turkish control, more than 530 churches and monasteries have been pillaged, vandalized, or destroyed in the occupied areas. “ I cannot say that the destruction of churches is encouraged openly by the Turkish government. All I can say is that it is taking place in the area that is under direct control of the Turkish military, and I leave you to make your own conclusions from that “. (Statement by Andreas Kakouris ex Cyprus Ambassador to the United States to CHRISTIAN POST. See “Bloody Truth” pages 360-365 and downloading of the whole book is absolutely free).
According to statistics of the Republic of Cyprus : “… About 133 churches, chapels and monasteries have been converted to military storage facilities, stables and night-clubs, a further number of 78 churches have been converted to mosques, Agia Anastasia church, in occupied Lapithos, was converted into a casino hotel, while Sourp Magar Armenian monastery, founded in the medieval period, was converted into a Cafeteria…” (Christian Post).
“This is not a Muslim-Christian issue… I don’t think the Cyprus problem has ever been a religious issue between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots… If the Turkish government hadn’t given the ‘green light’ on the destruction of churches and artefacts, they have not given the ‘red light’ either…So it is, either directly taking place or with their blind eye or whatever you want to call it. But they are responsible for what is taking place there”. (Andreas Kakouris to Christian Post. See “Bloody Truth” pages 360 – 365).

Looting and Smuggling

“Michael Van Rijn, the self-confessed art smuggler who worked undercover for Scotland Yard, has never been shy about his dubious activities in the art world. His claims about the millions he made through his links with the Yard are typical of his passion for causing embarrassment… Michael Van Rijn plans to use his website to reveal years of undercover operations for Scotland Yard and others. He wants his disclosures to embarrass the British Museum , Sotheyby’s, Christies and other leading art dealers as well as the security services.… A dentist’s son from Amsterdam , who owns several houses around the world, admits smuggling icons out of Russia , Cyprus , Greece and elsewhere. “ I have made millions…”, wrote “The Times” of London on 29 January 1990.
Michael van Rijn, a self confessed art smuggler indeed… has also been a very close associate of A. Dikmen, the Turkish smuggler, who stole the famous Kanakaria frescoes from occupied Lithrangomi in Cyprus . In his autobiography Michael van Rijn describes vividly how large amounts of antiquities from occupied Cyprus were loaded on vehicles of the Finnish UN contingent in Cyprus and transferred to the free part of the Republic of Cyprus from where they were, in the process smuggled out of the island (After a long and hard legal battle led by the Church of Cyprus (court case took place in America) the latter won the return of the Kanakaria frescoes to Cyprus…”. (All these have been covered in detail in my book (but unfortunately exhausted only to be found in libraries) “Conspiracy or Blunder?” issued in Nicosia 2000 published by Refugee Association “Adouloti Kyrenia”).
“ … Haven’t you heard that the 2000 year old Christchurch in Cyprus , St. Barnabas Church, has been robbed? Haven’t you heard that 35 icons were stolen, 11 of them were found in Kythrea, that 11 were retrieved in Ankara airport while being smuggled out and that the rest are lost? Haven’t you heard what’s happening in Varosia ( Famagusta )? Haven’t you heard that figurines belonging to the Catholic period and kept in the Archaelogical Museum have been stolen and smuggled to London ?
What about the icons in the other churches: the mosaics, the private collections the illegal digs? Haven’t you heard of these? Why have they stopped the digs started before 1974 at the city of Gastria , which belongs to the geometric age? Do you know what has happened since then? The “government” (refers to the occupied regime) has issued permits to certain businessmen from Turkey to set up a gypsum factory there. The tombs were destroyed and plundered”. (‘Perishing Cyprus in the Turkish Cypriot Review’ by Mehmet Yasin. ‘ Olay’ April 1982 – from Public and Information Office publication “They make a desert and they call it peace”). (Quoted in my book “Conspiracy or Blunder?” pages 93 – 96).
A big thank you to Boy George who through his commendable decision to return the stolen icon to the Church of Cyprus (obviously not able to return it to the actual Church of origin due to the continued Turkish invasion and occupation of that part of our homeland) has offered immense service to our cause in promoting to the eyes of the world the ongoing Turkish religious crimes committed in Cyprus since 1974…

God Bless you George.

Fanoulla Argyrou