Sacrilege, plundering, desolation, destruction, illicit trade in antiquities, smuggling
"It is important to distinguish between random damage that might have been caused by drunks after a night out, and the demolition of crosses, tombstones and heavy marble slabs which weigh several hundredweights and would need men with sledgehammers to destroy them. We found nothing to fit the first category. In fact, at Dhavlos, on the north coast, now occupied by mainland Turks, even the graveyard wall was partly demolished. Not a single tombstone remained standing[...] ..the process of obliterating everything Greek has been carried out methodically. The churches and graveyards have suffered severely."
"The Times", 5.27.1976
"The little treasure house of Antiphonitis Monastery, in the mountains north of Lefkoniko, had sustained the most comprehensive looting and damage....the 11th, 12th and 15th century icons..all had vanished or had been destroyed. The nineteenth and twentieth century icons were smashed, the furniture broken. In the corner were bags of cement and the remains of a fire. Furniture had been lugged outside onto the grass, and the whole place was a strewn with bottles and filth. Somebody was clearly proud of this work, for the wrecked iconostasis the date was chalked March 6, 1975."
"The Times", 5.27.1976
"The Turkish Cypriot Arts Society leader, Ali Atakan, in a statement issued on May 20 revealed yet more antique smuggling. According to this revelation, a valuable Byzantine mosaic has been stolen from a Byzantine Church in the village of Lythrangomi. There are two inter-connected churches in the village and the mosaic was stolen from the apse of the older church which dates back to the 8th century..."
Turkish Cypriot newspaper "Yenidyzen", 6.1.1982
"You will see chambers cut out of the rocks, lighthouses, the remains of baths, layouts and the military camps set up on the ruins both before and after 1974... Today Lambousa is a military zone closed to tourists. Here are many important churches and the mythological Akhiropietos Monastery. Now you cannot see it because it is being used as a military warehouse. The icons stolen from Lambousa were retrieved while being smuggled out of Ankara airport."
Turkish Cypriot newspaper "Olay", 'Perishing Cyprus', 4.26.75 - 5.17.1982
"Haven't you heard that the 2000 year old Christian church in Cyprus, St Barnabas' Church, has been robbed? Haven't you heard that 35 icons were stolen, that 11 of them were found in Kythrea, that 11 were retrieved at Ankara airport while being smuggled out, and that the rest are lost? Haven't you heard what's happening in Varosha (Famagusta)? Haven't you heard that figurines belonging to the Catholic period and kept in the Archaeological Museum have been stolen and smuggled to London? What about the icons in the other churches; the mosaics, the private collections, the illegal digs? Why have they stopped the digs started before 1974 at the city of Gastria, which belongs to the geometric age? Do you know what happened since then? The government [sic] has issued permits to certain businessmen from Turkey to set up a gypsum factory there. The tombs were destroyed and plundered."
Mehmet Yiasin, "Perishing Cyprus", in the Turkish Cypriot Review "Olay", April 1982:
"The antiques are illegally exported from the northern part of the island, especially rich in archaeological sites."
"Le Monde", 12.27.1978
"The Cyprus Arts Society [in the occupied areas] issued a press release saying that the antique smuggling in the occupied areas has reached enormous dimensions and that measures should be taken to protect the destruction of the antiques."
Turkish Cypriot "Bozkurt", 7.4.1982
"...The vandalism and desecration are so methodical and so widespread that they amount to institutionalized obliteration of everything sacred to a Greek [...] In some instances, an entire graveyard of 50 or more tombs had been reduced to pieces or rubble no larger than a matchbox...we found the chapel of Ayios Demetrios at Ardhana empty but for the remains of the altar plinth, and that was fouled with human excrement[...] At Syngrasis [...] the broken crucifix was drenched in urine.. At Lefkoniko [...the interior of Gaidhouras church...] was overlooked by an armless Christ on a smashed crucifix.. Tombs gaped open wherever we went... crosses bearing the pictures of those buried beneath [...] had been flattened and destroyed."
"The Guardian", 'The Rape of northern Cyprus', 5.6.1976
"The trial of the director [sic] of Kyrenia Museum, Mehmet Rasih, has ended with the case being referred to the "criminal court". The trial is connected with the 3 chests of antiques discovered in Turkey on their way to Germany, on 16.3.1981... The number of the missing icons or substituted icons were 225 ...[later] it was found that large icons had been sawn down to smaller sizes and thus entered in the books."
Turkish Cypriot "Ortam", 5.6.1982
"Two icons estimated to cost around TL 1 million were stolen from Kyrenia "Court". The icons stolen from the village church of Karmi 5 months ago were found in the Famagusta district and 4 persons were arrested in connection with the incident. The icons were locked away in Kyrenia "Court-House" to be stolen again."
Turkish Cypriot "Bozkurt", 3.9.1979
"Confidential United Nations military documents, circulated to officers in the United Nations peace - keeping force in Cyprus, disclose that looting is being systematically carried out on a massive scale by the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities in the north of the island."
"The Times", 12.13.1976
"Scotland Yard and Customs Officials are uncovering a highly organized smuggling network behind the trail of antiques looted in Cyprus."
"The Sunday Times", 4.25.1976
"...historic churches have been seized, stripped and whitewashed and converted into mosques [...] Others have been desecrated. [...] we came across a desecrated church in the center of a busy village between Famagusta and Nicosia. Fresh excrement and urine lay on the smashed altar and the floor. The church Bible had been used as toilet paper and the wall paintings gashed and disfigured. The icons had vanished. From the state of the place it was clear that this was not a single act of violation. The place obviously had been a public convenience for months. [...] On the Greek side all the mosques I have seen are securely locked and protected."
"The Times", 8.19.80
"About 10 kilometers to the west, the road leads to a valley where the Armenian monastery of Sourp Magar is situated.... Nightmarish scenes. But this is the reality in October 1989. The monastery is a pile of ruins. It has not been destroyed by bomb explosions. It has been destroyed deliberately. One wanders who went to this isolated hill area in order to loot, plunder and destroy. Nothing has been left as it was. The doors and the windows are broken. The sanctuary and the iconostasis have been desecrated. On the walls of the Church, the graffiti of the "victorious executioners", who caused this chaos."
Klaus Gallas, "Where the heavens are plundered", Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin, 3.30.1990