Please note that this message comes with a few weeks delay because unfortunately after writing this, I accidentally left my laptop at Istanbul airport, and only got it back today…
I (Marieke) am writing to you from Istanbul airport, on my way back to Maastricht. Over the past weeks we have been in Cyprus to share our research results. The most important goal was to make sure that our findings were brought to the attention of those for whom it could be of use, and to hopefully start a discussion about the rights of children living in northern Cyprus. Did we succeed? In some sense we did. In total, we had meetings at 7 different embassies and consulates, all MPs in the TRNC parliament received a copy of the report, we shared our findings with different ministries, with 3 NGOs and with the EU and the UN. The research appeared in 3 different newspapers and on the radio.
We ended our trip with two events which we organized. First, Ambra presented the research findings to a group of international students. We discussed what rights their children have, and how they can(not) access their rights. There was a very powerful discussion after the presentation. Lastly, we ended our trip with a presentation of the results in the Home for Cooperation, in the UN buffer zone. The event was very well attended and again there was a lot of discussion. It was great to notice that people attended the presentation from both sides (north and south), and that the audience was very diverse.
Will it make a difference? Now, of course, it is up to the people in northern Cyprus to do something with the research. They can decide to use it to claim their rights, or to organize better care for their children. They could try and do something about the persistent discrimination happening on both sides of the island. We already saw some people sharing the report on social media and sharing what they learned. We will see whether they follow up, since now it is in their hands.
On the last day, I saw our friend Can, whom I gave the last Turkish research reports, to distribute after we left. When I was back in the car and driving away, suddenly Can showed up, carrying a bucket. “It is a Turkish Cypriot tradition,” he said, “when someone leaves on a long journey, to throw water at them, so that they may come back.” And so I drove away, with the sound of water splashing behind me in the street.