Turkish Cypriots have launched an online petition campaign calling on the World Health Organisation to recognise the Turkish Cypriots as joint members of the organisation, as Covid-19 continues to claim thousands of lives worldwide.
International relations analyst based in Cyprus, Dr Mehmet Hasgüler told Anadolu Agency that their claim represents “a universal human right which is supra-political and above political parties.”
“Turkish Cypriots are also human, and we are trying to explain that COVID-19 does not distinguish between people,” said Hasgüler, who is also deputy chair of Northern Cyprus’ Higher Education Planning, Evaluation, Accreditation, and Coordination Council.
On April 22, Dr Hasgüler launched the petition, which as of Friday has already been signed by more than 9,200 people.
“For years, the existence of Turkish Cypriots has been ignored by the international communities! However, the common sovereign equality was accepted by international treaties on August 16, 1960, and it was approved by the UN!” says Hasgüler’s statement on change.org.
“Today our neighbors, citizens of the Republic of [Greek] Cyprus, are receiving all the essential information and support from the World Health Organization. But we, Turkish Cypriots, are being ignored!” it added.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – currently recognised only by Turkey – confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 9, while a total of four people, including two German citizens, have died due to the virus.
The border between South and North Cyprus has been closed for weeks now, since the pandemic first made headlines, the first time that had happened since the gates were opened in 2004.
Vast majority kept safe
North Cyprus’ first coronavirus case came from among a German tourist group of 750 people visiting the island.
Two of these people were among the first victims of COVID-19 on the island, while the rest of the group were put in quarantine and were sent back to their country healthy and safe, Hasguler said.
“I would like to call on German Chancellor Angela Merkel on behalf of Turkish Cypriots. We are also human beings and we want to be a member of the World Health Organisation,” said Hasgüler.
“As Turkish Cypriots, we want to face a possible second or third wave of [coronavirus] in a coordinated manner with the WHO’s office to be opened in the north, as the Turkish Cypriots cared for German tourists,” he said.
“Our request is clearly written in WHO’s founding charter in 1946, in Chapter 3, Article 8, as ‘Joint Membership’,” Hasgüler added.
According to the article: “Territories or groups of territories which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations may be admitted as Associate Members by the Health Assembly upon application made on behalf of such territory or group of territories by the Member or other authority having responsibility for their international relations.”
Hasgüler said that the definition as “associate members” clearly describes the Turkish Cypriots, who are interlocutors in all UN resolutions in 1959-1960 and beyond.
“Our request is totally limited to health rights and falls outside of political considerations,” he added.
“Regions that become associate members have a WHO office, they benefit from all kinds of assistance,” he said.
“Local health authorities will jointly fight against this dangerous epidemic with officials in WHO’s office in [the capital] Northern Lefkosa, test kits will come to our country easily, [and] the number of patients, number of intubates, and number of losses will be included in the statistics of the world health organization.”
He added: “In the first wave, Turkish Cypriots were excluded from all of these and were left to their own state by the WHO.”
But as it helped dozens of countries worldwide, Turkey did extend a helping hand to its Turkish Cypriot brothers, providing over 2.2 billion Turkish liras (about $325 million) amid the pandemic, according to Turkey’s vice president.
After the petition for WHO associate membership was launched, Prime Minister Ersin Tatar urged the WHO to share Turkish Cyprus’ success at fighting coronavirus with the world.
If you would like to add your name to the petition click on this link
AA News Agency