Exhibit in Naples on 'forbidden memory' in Northern Cyprus

Destruction of cultural heritage after occupation

30 October, 11:12

     NAPLES - Cyprus' ambassador to Italy, Tasos Tzionis, stressed the importance of memory during the inauguration in Naples of the exhibit ''Cipro - Memoria interdetta'' - or Cyprus, forbidden memory, organized by the local community, which focuses on the destruction of the island's northern side cultural heritage after the 1974 Turkish occupation.

    ''Without memory there is no civility'', he said. ''In the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus there is a will to kill memory, kill history with the use of violence. But the main motto of Cypriots that side against this crime is 'I don't forget'. And this is the duty of civil people against those denying freedom''.

    The show, which will remain open until November 14 at the monumental complex of San Severo al Pendino focuses on the dissolution of Cyprus' identity, which was systematic, organizers said. At least 55 churches were converted into mosques, another 50 became shops, museums, hostels while many churches and monasteries were demolished. The cemeteries of 25 villages were destroyed. Icons, altarpieces and archaeological treasures were stolen and sold abroad, creating an illegal market for local artwork. Organized in a setting that means to evoke the wall that in Nicosia still divides the Republic of Cyprus from the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the exhibit showcases the local cultural heritage and highlights methods that have allowed so far to recover and restore stolen artworks that are key to the historic memory of Cyprus.

    The inauguration coincided with a congress which was attended by Ambassador Tzionis as well as the president of the Society of Cypriot Studies Charalampos Chotzakoglous, who then stressed the efforts of his agency, in cooperation with Cypriot institutions and Interpol, to take back to the country masterworks that were illegally taken abroad and sold, recalling the final objective: ''We hope for a reunification'', he said.

    The director of the Byzantine Museum of Nicosia, Ioannis Eliades, stressed instead a strong point of contact in the millennial connection between the Hellenic culture and Naples: the Museo Nazionale Partenopeo in Naples hosts masterworks that were returned also thanks to the battle of Cypriots to obtain ''the tassels of a mosaic that is our memory, which was prohibited after the Turkish occupation'', he said.

    Eliades wanted to send out a message of hope: ''People in Cyprus celebrate every small icon, every artwork returning home.

    We are recuperating memory''.

    (ANSAmed).

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