Letter to the Editor: As response to criticism of the Turkish American Student Association’s bridge painting

We did not intend to make a political statement with the inclusion of the map of Cyprus on our mural. Our intentions were misinterpreted and seen as divisive.

Letter to the Editor

It has come to our attention that the panel we painted on the Washington Bridge has created confusion among some students and faculty at the UMN. As the board of the Turkish American Student Association, we do not intend to make a political statement with the inclusion of the map of Cyprus on our mural. Our intentions were misinterpreted and seen as divisive.

Our intention with the mural was to strive for an authentic representation of the students who are part of our organization. We included both the maps of Turkey and Cyprus, for our Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot members expressed a desire to show where they come from on our mural this year. In our painting of Cyprus, our Turkish-Cypriot member included the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus. The buffer zone was established in 1964 to prevent further inter-communal conflicts that have affected the lives of thousands of Cypriots. 

Cyprus has had a Turkish-Cypriot population well before 1974. The letter overlooks the violence that precedes the events of 1974 and fails to consider all angles of the incidents. We request the writers to be objective in their judgment. 

Unfortunately, the letter reaches biased conclusions about our group based on the current political atmosphere. References to the political role of Turkey in the Middle East in the letter are misleading. TASA is a cultural group, and we are not representatives of the Turkish government and their policies. Therefore, we request not to be affiliated with arguments that arise from politics.

The Turkish American Student Association does not support the conflict in Cyprus or elsewhere. Our mission is to celebrate Turkish culture which includes anyone who feels connected to our culture. We believe that different cultures can coexist in an environment that is peaceful and loving. We will continue to celebrate diversity on campus and express our heritage freely in ways we believe best reflect our experience.

This letter was written on behalf of the Turkish American Student Association.