Uzay Bulut stated that by writing about Turkish atrocities in Cyprus in 1974, and of the injustices metted out to the Greek Cypriots which haunt them to this day, she is just following her journalistic duty and her heart. She hopes that by exposing the truth to average Turks that, in the end, it will help her country tear down the walls of propaganda that the state of Turkey is built on. "I feel very angry when, on the one hand, I see Turkish TV channels denouncing and criticizing Netanyahu for attacks in Gaza, while, on the other hand, I see glowing TV reports from the same TV channels featuring the Turkish government's "peacekeeping operation" in Cyprus," she stated emphatically.
She gave the following interview on SigmaLive News
Your article has caused quite a stir in Cyprus. Many Turks dismiss your position and don't believe that someone of Turkish ancestry - especially a Turkish journalist - would dare point their finger at Turkey as it pertains to the atrocities that took place in Cyprus in 1974. In order to downplay your position, many Turks claim that you are not of Turkish ancestry but of Kurdish descent. For the record, what is your ethnic background?
I am a Turk. Because I often discuss the Kurdish issue, many believe that I am of Kurdish origins. But I am a Turk.
Why did you feel it was necessary to compare the events of Gaza with those of Cyprus?
I was watching a report on TV which motivated me to compare the Turkish attitude towards Israel, Hamas and Cyprus. I watched the news and the first issue on the program was the Israeli operations in Gaza. Turkish officials and especially Erdogan, condemned Israel for its operations in Gaza. The second report concerned the "celebrations" of the 40th anniversary of "peacekeeping operation" in Cyprus.
Politicians and military officials exchanged handshakes, gave speeches and celebrated the "victory" (as the Cyprus event is called in Turkey) in a "festival of peace and freedom." I, of course, through my research knew of a different story. I knew about the crimes committed by Turkey in Cyprus and was outraged at the blatant falsification of history. Murder, torture, rape, theft of property, concentration camps, illegal detention and other crimes against humanity that took place in a land in which Turkey had no historical connection to or moral right to do so.
I felt so angry and shocked at seeing this tragic event and grave injustice being celebrated in Turkey while at the same time condemning a military operation in another country - Israel. For this, I thought, that this hypocrisy must be exposed. And I wrote that piece which was my first article concerning Cyprus. I really did not expect that article to have become an article of interest.
You mentioned propaganda being pushed by Turkish media as it pertains to the Cyprus problem. Do Turkish citizens actually know what has happened in Cyprus in the last five decades and how the Cyprus issue started? Do the majority of Turks believe this propaganda?
Unfortunately most people in Turkey do not know the truth about Cyprus. They feed off of the Turkish version of events which are deliberately distorted. I, too, was one of them so I know from personal experience the magnitude of Turkish propaganda. From our first years in school, we are exposed to Turkish state propaganda, or in other words a fantasy or a false version of history. I remember that on national holidays both the state of Turkey and the so-called (unrecognized) Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus were both praised.
There are two myths that have been created for Turkish society - that of Turkey's presence in Cyprus and that of the establishment of a "legal" Turkish government on the island. Turkish people have been indoctrinated to believe that the northern part of the island has always been mainly Turkish and is, therefore, not seen as a colonization process. It is seen as a process where Turkey returned back to "Turkish soil."
They do not know that the majority of Turks who are currently in the occupied north is a result of ethnic cleansing. They do not know that thousands of Greek Cypriots were evicted from their property and had to be transferred to the south and that their homes were given to Turkish Cypriots and settlers from Turkey who moved to the occupied area in order to alter the demographic character of the island. If you do a search on Google, in the Turkish language on the Turkish invasion, you will only see that all the results from the search will only show "Turkish peace operation" or "British annexation of Cyprus." So, unless a Turk knows the English language and conducts some independent research to learn the facts, that person will never know about the pervasive nature of Turkish propaganda.
This propaganda is served to Turks as a "peacekeeping operation" of Turkey in Cyprus, which according to the narrative, was needed due to the violence of the Greek Cypriots against the Turkish Cypriots. We have always been told that Turkish Cypriots were slaughtered by Greek Cypriots and, therefore, Turkey had to intervene to protect them. This is, therefore, what Turks believe. Nowhere is it mentioned that the island has a Greek history and culture which dates back 3,000 years. Therefore, the majority of Turks believe that the so-called "peacekeeping operation" was lawful and necessary. If a lie is repeated often, it becomes truth. The Turkish state propaganda for Cyprus is perhaps one of the longest and most systematic propaganda ever conducted in world history.
We have seen many events in Turkey related to freedom of the press, a freedom which has been brutally crushed. Journalists were murdered or imprisoned...are you not afraid that what you write will result in something bad happening to you?
I know the risks. Theoretically. I have supported the Kurds in the past and nothing has happened to me. So, I hope that neither this time would anything happen to me. If something does happen to me, then for me it means that I did my job well. If there is a cost that I must pay, then I will rely on old and new friends to help me get over it. Right now I am just doing what my journalistic duties demand of me and what feels right in my heart with the hope that, in the end, I will help my country.
Do Turkish journalists perceive that they act as promoters of political propaganda when writing about Cyprus? Do they believe and argue that in 1974 Turkey actually conducted a "peacekeeping operation" in Cyprus?
It would not be correct for me to speak of behalf of all journalists. But I can say that most Turks, whether leftists or centrists or rightists or conservatives, liberals or Islamists know little about Cyprus.
To give you an impression of freedom of the press and of expression in Turkey I will give you an example of a recent incident. On December 28, 2011, a Turkish F-16 fighter bombed the Roboski region of the Sirnak province killing a total of 34 Kurdish citizens including 17 children. The victims were involved in smuggling cheap cigarettes and gasoline. The bodies of the victims were found charred and in unrecognizable condition.
Turkish media chose not to cover this murderous attack which lasted for 12 hours until an official announcement by the Turkish Armed Forces was made. This tragic event shows you just how much freedom there is in the press.
Now as it pertains to the more open-minded journalists...unfortunately there are not many in Turkey. Even the few open-minded journalists know that there are limits when it comes to Cyprus since it is a taboo subject for Turkey.
Although the intransigent stance of Turkey on Cyprus is pretty much a given, can Cypriots still hope that something will change? Can Turkish society play a role for a direction (on Cyprus)?
Before answering this question we should first take into account facts concerning the Kurdish issue. In Turkey there are 20 million Kurds. Up until the year 2000 it was forbidden in Turkey to say that "I am a Kurd." They were not allowed to establish their own political parties from 1920 up to 1990. The Kurds have suffered great humiliation by the Turkish state. And this all in a period of over 90 years. They can't teach their own language. They are not even recognized as a separate ethnic group under the Turkish constitution. The fact that, to date, the Kurdish issue has not been solved, that is directly due to Turkey's harsh and aggressive behavior towards the Kurdish population, which continues via a long-standing policy of "you are either a Turk or you will be destroyed."
Now with regard to a Cyprus solution, I know that the Turkish Cypriot minority refers to self-determination. Self-determination is a good thing. But in what land do they implement self-determination? Who gave them the land? Those who invaded and caused preventable havoc? When did this Turkish community ever have a majority in any part of Cyprus? Do the Turks in Germany have the right of self-determination? How about the muslims of the Netherlands or France?
I really do not know what the five permanent members of the Security Council think. If they can not solve the Cyprus problem, which ethical problem can they solve? Will they one day allow any minority group in any country of the world to simply demand the protection of an outside powerful protector (a guarantor country) to help them eventually secede from said state? What kind of "wise" precedent are they trying to create in Cyprus? I fear that there is more at stake in Cyprus from what is actually seen with the naked eye. In my view there are two important issues. The first is how to distribute the power between the majority and a large national minority. We have the same problem in Turkey and recently an identical problem in Ukraine. Cyprus is an opportunity for the United Nations to act as a catalyst for solving such a problem by offering the international community a principle-based model for similar conflicts worldwide.
I think we all agree that neither arms, nor the violation of human rights can be part of the solution of any problem. Regarding the security issue of the Turkish Cypriots, whether this security issue actually exists or not, look at the example of the Kurds and I think you can understand the double standards applied by my country. Accordingly, then, the two key issues are, the distribution of power and security, both of which can be solved in an easier way under the current constitution and perhaps changing the basis of the negotiations. If we were to ask all Cypriots under one referendum, they would certainly agree with that. On this occasion, I ask: Why are there always two separate referendums? Why such distinction? This would seem strange to outsiders. This is unacceptable in the 21st century. Also, why don't all Cypriots learn Greek? In Turkey everyone learns Turkish and we have many ethnic groups, yet, we all learn Turkish. If the Turkish Cypriots learned Greek, then they would be able to reclaim government jobs, and would be better equipped to handle their fears against the intentions of the country's majority. Anyway before the occupation, all Turkish Cypriots spoke Greek.
Many are discussing the importance of the upcoming election in Turkey. Is it really that important?
This election will see Erdogan installed as an "absolute leader." In a twisted kind of way it is good because he may be able to steer Turkey down a better path. However, this issue also has two sides that must be examined: first we do not know where he (Erdogan) wants to take the country and the second is that many people oppose his personal aspirations. In short, I am not very optimistic. We can start climbing a mountain with the skills of a world-class climber but, the point is, to choose the right mountain to reach its peak.