Letter to the editor: Regarding the Turkish American Student Association’s painting

The student group painted a divided Cyprus during this year’s paint the bridge event.

Letter to the Editor

We are a group of UMN faculty and students who wish to publicly express our objection and concern over an act of provocation by the Turkish American Student Association. As part of the annual painting of the campus bridge by student associations, the Turkish Association chose to paint the picture of a divided Cyprus on its logo. Cyprus was subjected to a military invasion by Turkey in 1974, and has ever since been divided, with 40% of its territory occupied by Turkish forces.

In short, the 1974 invasion resulted in:

· 200,000 refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods

· Over 3,000 people killed and 1619 missing to this day

· Museums, churches, historical sites and cultural artifacts desecrated and destroyed, an irreplaceable loss to all of humanity

Cyprus is an independent state recognized by the UN. Turkey’s illegal occupation of Cyprus is in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions and is not recognized by any country other than Turkey.

Therefore, the bridge painting constitutes a direct insult to us as members of the UMN community. Some of us have experienced the invasion as young children and count relatives amongst the dead and missing. At a time when Turkey’s aggression in the Middle East is in full swing, we emphasize that we do not want this conflict to reach our campus community. We celebrate the right of our Turkish and Turkish Cypriot colleagues to demonstrate their heritage, but we demand that they do so in a non-divisive way.

We are calling on all students, staff and university authorities to denounce the act, and ask for the immediate removal of the drawing.

Students and staff of the University of Minnesota:

Dr. Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, professor, Interior Design

Dr. Nikos Papanikolopoulos, McKnight Presidential Endowed Professor

Dr. Theofanis G. Stavrou, professor of History

Dr. Vassilios Morellas, director, Computer Science & Engineering

Dr. Daniel Demetriou, associate professor, current philosophy discipline coordinator

Dr. Katerina M. Marcoulides, assistant professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Spyros Charonis, research associate, Department of Neuroscience

Dr. Marinos Kosmopoulos, postdoctoral fellow, Division of Cardiology

Dr. Panagiotis Traganitis, postdoctoral associate, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Theodore Christoforidis, postdoctoral associate, College of Biological Sciences

Dr. Diamantis Tsaggaris, M.D.

Alexandros Giannelis, graduate student

Vasileios Litsakis, undergraduate president of the Hellenic Student Association

Vasileios Ioannidis, graduate student, member of the Hellenic Student Association board

Konstantinos Mavromatis, graduate student

Lambros Tassoulas, graduate student

Thomas Louvaris, past president of the Hellenic Student Association

Apostolos Kotsolis, undergraduate student

Editor’s note: two names have been removed post-publication.