Cypriots file war crimes complaint against Turkey

Cypriots file war crimes complaint against Turkey

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - A group of Cypriots on Monday filed a war crimes complaint against Turkey at the International Criminal Court over what they say is its policy of settling Cyprus' breakaway north with mainland Turks.

Cyprus split into a Turkish-speaking north and an internationally recognized Greek-speaking south in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup that aimed to unite the island with Greece. A Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is recognized only by Turkey, which maintains 35,000 troops there.

Cypriot European Parliament member Costas Mavrides, who filed the complaint jointly with the group, said settlement activity contravenes international law and has significantly altered the demographics of northern Cyprus. Turkey did not immediately respond to the complaint.

According to the complaint, it is estimated that over a third of the north's population of around 300,000 people are mainland Turks whose settlement has been "actively organized and supported" by the Turkish government.

The complaint says that Turkey provides settlers with job opportunities and financial aid and allocates to them homes and land, most of which belonged to Greek Cypriots who had fled in the wake of the invasion.

An Israeli-based rights organization, the Shurat HaDin Law Center, helped the group, which calls itself Cypriots Against Turkish War Crimes, draft the complaint.

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