Recognition of conscientious objector status

Dr. Gregoris Ioannou To: the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus, Competent Authorities of the National Guard 22 September 2017

I am not willing to participate in any way in any future activities of the National Guard, as my conscience and my philosophic and moral beliefs prevent me from contributing in any way in a future war conflict in Cyprus or anywhere else in the world. Therefore I am not in the National Guard’s disposal to serve as a reservist or in any other alternative military service and based on the relevant existing legislation I apply to be recognised as a “conscientious objector”.

Supporting documents/evidence

I served a 26-month military service from July 1998 until September 2000. Then I studied modern international history in the United Kingdom. My course at the University of London gave me the opportunity to study a number of national, regional and international conflicts which took place in the last two centuries. This allowed me to realise how devastating wars can be for humanity and the environment. Moreover, I realized the conditions upon which citizens’ recruitment is based and their transformation into death tools. Lastly, I realised each citizen’s responsibility in every country to prevent war and build peace.

From the end of 2000, in parallel to the beginning of my studies, I started participating in international anti-war movements, the rapprochement movement of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for peace and reunification on the island and later in the movement for the demilitarisation of Cyprus. I wrote many public articles over the past 15 years against war and armies, against recruitment and the National Guard and I have participated in a number of events demanding the abolition of all Cypriot military forces and the withdrawal of all foreign troops, something apparent from supporting biographic evidence provided at the end of this document.

I oppose using military violence in general and the use of military force in Cyprus specifically. I have dozens of close friends and collaborators and hundreds of friends of Turkish Cypriot and/or Turkish origin and I am not willing to fight against them under any circumstances. I interact with them on a daily basis both socially and professionally and we share common values, views and visions.

I oppose the ongoing ethnic conflict in Cyprus which started in1963 and I refuse to participate in structures which maintain, reproduce and accentuate it. I am of the belief that the National Guard is a Greek Cypriot army and, as the opposite Turkish Cypriot force, serves the continuation of the country’s division on an ethnic basis. Additionally, I consider that the National Guard’s operation gives Turkey the justification to claim that the presence of its own army in Cyprus is necessary because the Turkish Cypriots’ security is jeopardised. As a result, Cyprus is sadly one of the most militarised areas of the planet. I directly oppose any participation in extending the ethnic conflict, the division and the ongoing militarisation of the country I come from and in which I live and work.

The National Guard, as every organized army, is based on cultivating the nationalist ideology with all its racist and chauvinist elements, reproduces gendered, sexist and patriarchal stereotypes and views and promotes the diffusion of authoritarianism in society. Moreover, the National Guard absorbs a relatively huge percentage of Cyprus’ GDP, one of the highest in the world, public money which is spent on military equipment and maintenance expenses and paying thousands of mercenaries, conscripts and reserves; money which could be better utilised for social welfare purposes, especially under the current circumstances caused by the crisis. I consider the National Guard as an institution which harms Cyprus’ society, the society which I serve as a citizen and a scientist.

Serving in the army is by definition an exercise for war, i.e. the systematic preparation to participate in murders. I refuse to participate in any training programmes and exercises which aim to transform individuals to inhumane machines willing to kill or help those who are ready to kill. I refuse to participate in any military interventions which could arise from alliances and/or interstate or multinational agreements between the Republic of Cyprus and the European Union in the Eastern Mediterranean or elsewhere in the world.

Summing up, for reasons of conscience and moral beliefs, ideological consistence and philosophical views, I cannot take part in military structures and I am not willing to do any reserve military service. I am not willing to fight against any human of any ethnic origin.

Selected references to anti-war and antimilitarist initiatives in which I actively participated and public statements I made:

2001-2004: Anti-war movement in London and Cyprus (against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) and rapprochement initiatives (Ledra Palace, Pyla and island wide after the opening of checkpoints in 2003). 2004-2007: Member of the coordinating committee of the Common Cultural Centre “Gardaş” (bicommunal social space for meeting and collaboration of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot youth in Nicosia) 2005-2017: Participation in every anti-war demonstration rally in Cyprus against wars in the region (Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Turkey - Kurdistan, Syria) 2008-2017: Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot Teachers Platform “United Cyprus” (initiatives for reunification, developing peace culture and tackling the spreading of nationalism in GC and TC schools) 2011-2017: Initiative for the demilitarisation of Cyprus (events, actions, rallies and demonstrations both in areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus and under Turkish state rule against all armies in Cyprus). In February 2011, representing the Initiative for Demilitarisation I gave public statements to the CyBC which were transmitted in the channel’s 20:00 news.

Additional references from: 1) My article titled«The demilitarization of the country as the first and final act of reunification», published in March 2010 in the sixth edition of local magazine “To Revma” and posted on my personal blog

“[…]The demilitarization of our country,one of the most militarized areas of the planet, is not only a long-term reunification objective, the process of building that is lasting peace, but also a short-term objective in its achievement. Demilitarisation could start before a settlement agreement, serving as a booster and catalyst for reunification. Demilitarising Cyprus is an absolute necessity and this should be realised by all. Since a military “solution” has been rejected from both sides which reckon there’s no other way out than the peace talks, keeping troops on the island is an anachronism and a mockery of the people. Especially so after the opening of the checkpoints in 2003 and the entry into the EU in 2004. […] The National Guard has only brought damage to Cyprus. It has systematized and legalized nationalist violence from GC paramilitaries and staged the coup which led to the disaster in 1974. It has since become a mechanism of nationalist indoctrination to those who serve and learn to hate the ‘Turkish enemies’ (completing the work of the ethnocentric education system), a vehicle of self-service for those with “contacts” and “connections” in a field of corruption and opacity, dissipating public money in commissions and bribes at the expense of Cyprus’ economy, holding thousands of men on annual basis outside the labour market. To those who serve, it causes psychological issues and cultivates insensitivity or even brutalisation, permeating interpersonal relations with the poison of authoritarianism. It’s time to get rid of that which is harmful and irrational. If we are serious about seeking a settlement and reunification and if we really want a healthy society, let us demonstrate this in practice”.

2) Personal article posted on my blog in July 2011 titled“Nor weapons, nor ammunition, nor deaths!”:

“[…]Disengagement, destruction of ammunition and demilitarization should start now and we should at last proceed to a settlement of the Cyprus issue and reunifying the country. Full disarmament now! Nor weapons, nor ammunition, nor deaths! [Cyprus should be] An example of peace for the Middle East, not a military warehouse for militarised antagonisms, whether ethnic or geopolitical”.

3) “Peace Pact between the people of Cyprus”: an online petition I co-prepared and co-signed in August 2017:

“[…] we, the signatories, are determined to take things in our own hands and build the Cyprus we dream of. We claim the individual right to live in Cyprus without a Cyprus issue, a problem which casts shadow over every other political matter. We demand the right to live together peacefully, without the threat of war, without the shadow of weapons. The culture of militarism contributes and strengthens division, while supporting and prolonging other oppressing structures connected to nationalism, gender and sexuality, the destruction of the environment, our ecological commons and the commons of our cities in general. We hereby state that: • we refuse to take arms against any individual living on the island something which would prolong ethnic conflict in Cyprus • we will not participate in any military activity (including civil defence)[…]”.

I also refer to my signed posts on my blog in February and December 2014 to expresss solidarity and support to Turkish Cypriot conscientious objectors Murat Kanatli and Haluk Selam Tufanli.

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Author: aristerikinisi

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