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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Vote on Cyprus

Allow Cypriot refugees to vote in a Cyprus settlement referendum
As a result of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, approximately 200,000 Cypriots (one third of the population) were forced out of their homes and lands in the northern area of the Republic of Cyprus.

Thousands of displaced Cypriots fled for their lives and sought sanctuary outside of Cyprus as refugees. The refugees and displaced persons have lived in hope that one day they will be permitted the right to return to their towns and villages in the Turkish-occupied north of their island.

Despite United Nations resolutions such as 37/253 endorsing the right to return, the fate of refugees and the displaced will be decided in a negotiated political settlement. We expect a proposed negotiated settlement to be put to the people of Cyprus in referenda.

While displaced persons who reside in Cyprus are permitted to vote a Cyprus settlement referendum, the refugees who reside outside of the island are currently denied that right. Non-resident citizens are also denied their right to vote in referenda that will finally decide the fate of their country.

The right to vote in Cyprus settlement referenda should be extended to those refugees who live in exile and all those Cypriots in the disapora. They are victims of war, invasion and occupation and should not be denied the right to participate in shaping the future of their homeland.

Cypriot law stipulates a six month residency requirement in order to qualify an individual to vote. But that is a major obstacle for those living in the diaspora and in particular for the refugees whose homes are under Turkish military occupation.