By Aydin Mehmet-Ali
VICTIMHOOD has become a chronic condition in the Cypriot communities, north and south, and sustained by a culture of blame.
It is insatiable and unreparational. It is magnified and exaggerated at the individual level, and endorsed and perpetuated by the power elites at communal levels and at the negotiation tables across the world.
Cypriots want to extract maximum damage from all they hold responsible; always the fault of “others.” This creates a mind-set bordering on the delusional, obsessive, laying claim to unrealistic expectations and self-accorded “rights without responsibilities”.
It is a fantasy world detached from the realities and the rule of law governing and guiding relations between states, societies and individuals.
An example of this is the frenzied, unattainable demand in the north for the world recognition of the ‘TRNC’ which was created by the invasion and continued occupation of an independent state by a foreign state.
Similarly there is the collusion in the portrayal of the 1974 war as a “peace operation,” and the persecution of those who rejected it. It took 41 years for an elected ‘president’ of the north, Mustafa Akıncı, to publicly call it “war.”
He was fully aware of the consequences of his actions, the breaking of a taboo especially on the day of the commemoration of the invasion, July 20, 2015, in the presence of the President of the Republic of Turkey.
Victimhood creates a sense of inverse power which bestows contempt for the law and a psychology that you can get away with it and that you are clever to do so and perhaps a sense of invincibility like that of a cocaine rush, or the justification of a thief that he is entitled to steal. With that philosophy, you can build anything anywhere, can disregard environmental, town planning, neighbourhood, health and safety regulations.
As a police officer you can traffic women for prostitution, promote pornography, be on the mafia payroll. As a community you can indoctrinate your young to hate, discriminate and be racist towards all ‘others’ based on a selected constructed history and superiority.
You can hold onto title deeds of homeowners, to borrow unpayable bank loans; use government offices and positions to buy and sell favours, principles and influence with impunity; defraud banks and government, property and assets; mistreat vulnerable ‘foreign’ workers and not pay them for work done and rejoice in cruelty inflicted on others.
You can destroy the environment, allow the stranglehold of mafia multi-billion business deals across the island in prostitution, human trafficking, gambling, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking and large-scale tax evasion, aided and abetted by bent lawyers and accountants, politicians, government officials, civil servants.
And then there is the militarisation of our lives, societies and geographies while having uncritical, cordial even servile, financial power-relations with regional military dictators like Egypt’s el Sisi, the aggressor state of Israel under Netanyahu, who invaded and annexed Palestinian land and property and drove off the legal owners to bring in around a million “settlers”, and of course the brutal unelected sheikdoms of the Middle East who stone women to death and all based on financial gains while Cyprus plays the little-boy victim looking for friends amid the continuing power-jostling in the Middle East.
Why don’t we focus on these matters that blight our lives as local, regional and global citizens? Why do we so easily get trapped in nationalisms and ethnic conflicts, prejudices going around in mindless circles losing our communal ethos in favour of destructive individualism, masquerading as free-will, freedom to choose, the abortive child of neo-liberal philosophy.
And why do we define ourselves as Europeans? It is but an illusion, escapism, fantasy-world to justify our willed blindness to our location in the Middle East. As “Europeans” we can pretend to be miles away and civilised, while WWIII is raging in the “East” and refugees are washed up on our shores.
I refuse to be aligned with “sides”, political parties or groups, power elites and mainstream thinking, and political values systems. I refuse to recognise borders, ascribed ethnicities and nationalities, diktats as to where I should live, to which ethnic, language, religious grouping I should belong, or who should be my family.
I live in the north and in the south, and in London, where I have created the woman I am. I have been defying and sabotaging borders and definitions since the early 1960s. I continued to stay both in the north and south before and after 1974. I refuse to allow anyone or any authority to dictate where I should live or not live, in the country of my birth. The whole of Cyprus is mine and always has been. I never gave up on any part of it, despite harassment, threats and intimidation, which continue even today. I have given myself the right to live wherever I want. No one asked me if I wanted Cyprus divided.
Aydin Mehmet-Ali is a well known intellectual activist and award-winning author and educationalist. Her most recent book is Forbidden Zones, collection of short stories, Cyprus and the Diaspora.