Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

April and Easter, freedom and death



For Cyprus, Ireland and Palestine, Easter and April carry ongoing significance, their history still a living thing because of unresolved political issues. Cypriots and Christian Palestinians revere the Easter Light in similar ceremonies. Catholic services are close to those of the Orthodox Church. All three peoples have seen lands stolen by the enforced settlement of strangers, have suffered unlawful evictions from their homes and properties and have mourned their resulting dead.

In 1870s Ireland, ruthless landlords forced out desperate tenant farmers who were trying to recover from the famine of the 1840s. Rental problems, destitute people and evictions have recently raised this subject in an Ireland that (like Cyprus) boasts of evolving economic prosperity. Lack-of-caring jibes are lobbed at wealthy, governing Irish past and present, considered to have utterly failed to social-house the poor as rents and property prices relentlessly soar, and homeless families sleep in police stations.

Cyprus faces housing/rent worries too, the poor usually overlooked by consecutive governments and their ‘let them eat cake’ attitude while they service(d) expensive nepotism and job creation for the chosen few. Refugees’ status and housing are now causing controversy, the pros and cons of foreclosures, ad infinitum, hotly debated.

Israeli right-wing settlers’ uncontrolled rampaging through Palestinian properties, disgusted decent Israelis, drawing comparisons, albeit it on a lesser scale, with the violent rampaging of Nazis destroying Jewish property on Kristallnacht in 1938 Germany.

April 10 in Irish politics, North and South, is viewed as a triumph of reason over bloodshed and old feuds by all sides concerned and known as the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Bill Clinton’s respected envoy Senator George Mitchell chaired meetings that contributed sound support. President Joe Biden visited Belfast this April on its 25th anniversary. The most heartening aspect of speeches on the Agreement’s bringing peace to people tired of fighting, deaths (3,000+), bombs and murder, was when politicians from the Republic and Biden expressed genuine willingness to assist the northern economy become more prosperous. Biden assured northerners, regardless of varied identities, that there was more help to come towards greater economic wealth and job creation, as with the Irish Republic which has become one of Europe’s technology hubs due to US input.

The unlimited possibilities of mixed identities agreeing to work together for common good is absolute economic sense, an example our government here could emulate in moving our division forward. The Irish rose up against British rule at Easter, 1916. The rising failed but the merciless executions of Irish freedom fighters by the British, some very young, as they were in Cyprus, changed the mood of a formerly passive Ireland to sympathy for rebellion.

April saw Cypriot Greeks declare their guerrilla war against Britain to take back their island. April too, is when the junta in Greece took power with all the consequences that had for Cyprus when the Turkish army invaded in 1974. Britain, which took over Palestine from the Ottomans after WWI, played a role in its history. Today, the UK has good relations with both former island colonies, Palestine is in limbo.

We began and continue as tribals. The purposely dithering Democratic Unionist Party in the North doesn’t want Sinn Fein to take power there. Irish Catholic voters, once a discriminated Northern minority, have increased in vote numbers, but thankfully, peace prevails. Sinn Fein, now an elected presence North and South, was seen as aligned to the IRA struggle in the North. Some now welcome SF as an alternative to established parties that haven’t delivered for the poor.

All three races above split into factions, turning on their own as well as the enemy. After a (1921) treaty with the British to enable Ireland’s freedom, those accepting the deal and those who did not came to civil war, atrocities were committed by both sides. During the 1974 coup, Greek Cypriots turned against their own kind and Turkish Cypriots, unpunished crimes were committed. The US played its role in Israel’s formation, so if Joe Biden wants an impressive legacy he could try to succeed where former US presidents abysmally failed, in helping to achieve for Palestine and Israel what Clinton did for Northern Ireland.


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