The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy plans to undertake initiatives to highlight the destruction and desecration of Christian monuments in the Turkish occupied territories.

According to a press release by the Cypriot delegation to the IAO, a relevant discussion took place in the House of Representatives, between the Committee of Cyprus Occupied Municipalities, and the IAO leadership, which was in Cyprus to work on the amendment of the Constitutive Act of the institution.

“The issue of our cultural and religious heritage is one of the major issues on which we must inform the international community,” the press release said.

It further noted that what the mayors and representatives of the occupied municipalities said about what is happening in churches, monasteries and cemeteries in the occupied territories “should have stirred up the civilized world, which is supposed to care about universal human values.”

The 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the subsequent occupation of the island, has heavily affected Cyprus’ cultural heritage and despite existing internationally binding treaties regarding the protection of cultural heritage, Turkey chooses to ignore the treaties and continues its destructive agenda.

The damages are grave and in many cases, irreversible. The occupied museums have been looted and so have many private collections of antiquities. Churches have been vandalised; ecclesiastical icons and vessels stolen, church frescoes and mosaics have been removed and in many cases have been traced in Europe’s illegal antiquities trade markets and in auctions around the world.

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