my Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs

Bringing the ‘dead zone’ to life


As I look up into the dusky Nicosia sky of the Ledra street/Lokmacı checkpoint, I notice if I look up at a certain angle I can only see the Cyprus flag flying against the background of Cyprus blue.

Why was I casting my eye upwards long enough to notice a flag (flags if you count the Greek one there too)? Because I’ve spent the last 10 days (since May 22) in that space taking part in a peaceful demonstration as part of a citizens’ initiative called Unite Cyprus Now, calling on the two leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci to fulfil their promise of reunifying the island.

I’ve held a number of banners too including ‘Unite Cyprus, No bullshit’ and ‘We want leaders with the right intentions.’

As I stood there night after night, amongst these amazing and determined people wanting the same thing I did, I began thinking about how I got here. How did I become this person that not only wants a solution but is willing to work for it and shoulder the responsibility?

Have I lived division? Yes, but in a slightly different way to most Cypriots. I’m lucky not to have been uprooted from my place of birth. I don’t remember anyone mentioning any major upheavals in our family except when my father’s family moved to London for 15 years at the start of the intercommunal struggles in the early 1960s. Essentially, their village remained their village and it did for a number of Turkish Cypriots (Potamia/Bodamya).

However, we weren’t ones for talking about politics. So, it wasn’t until I entered the world of journalism almost seven years ago now that my eyes were gradually opened. Over the years, I’ve worked hard at filling the gaps that my own upbringing and schooling never did both in knowledge regarding Cyprus’ history and in language (I recently re-learnt Turkish).

Even as a Turkish Cypriot though, it wasn’t until at least six years ago I started meeting other Turkish Cypriots. I only ever knew Potamia Turkish Cypriots, who are somewhat different in any case having lived among Greek Cypriots for so long.

As I stand in protest immersed in the sounds of high-pitched whistles and the passionate beating of drums, I realise that we’ve brought this space, appropriately called ‘space in between’ in Turkish (ara bölge), to life each and every night.

Tell me then, when does a person finally decide to put down the banners carrying a message of pain and pick up the ones carrying a message of positivity?

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