Nicosia 9.12.16

Office of RTCYPP hosts release event of the Religious leaders of Cyprus’

joint appeal on the missing persons


The Office of RTCYPP, which facilitates the dialogue of the religious leaders of Cyprus, released the first ever joint appeal on the missing persons from the religious leaders of Cyprus at Ledra Palace Hotel, Nicosia. The event was hosted in support of the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).


Members of the CMP, religious leaders and representatives and family members of missing persons addressed the event together with the Ambassador of Sweden and the Executive Coordinator of RTCYPP. Find the opening address by the Executive Coordinator below.


Among the participants were the religious leaders of Cyprus together with the members of the CMP, family members of missing persons, different associations or organizations for the missing, the diplomatic corps, UN, civil society actors, political parties and members of different faith communities in Cyprus.


In February 2016 the Office of RTCYPP in cooperation with the CMP, facilitated and organized the first joint visit of the religious leaders to the CMP Anthropological Laboratory.



Opening address by Salpy Eskidjian, Executive Coordinator


"Your Excellencies, Your honours,

SRSG , dear Mrs Spehar,

Reverend fathers, Representatives of the religious leaders,

Distinguished guests, dear friends


As we gather here today to bring the united contribution of the religious leaders of Cyprus for the missing, could I kindly ask everyone to stand up for one minute and to think of all those whose fate is still not known and for the loved ones.


Can we ask our reverend fathers and all believers to pray in silence for the souls of those who were killed, for all who suffered and still do as well as for all who have information to open their hearts and minds


What a privilege to gather here with all of you on the eve of Human Right’s Day, observed every year to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.


Many of us are fearful about the way the world is heading. Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe.


Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears.


Humane values are under attack.


The articles 3 & 5 of the UDHR which was established almost 7 decades ago, by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all the regions of the world, as a common standard of achievements for all people and all nations - refer to the right to life, liberty and security or the right that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


The right to truth is new right enshrined in Int. HR law and it supposes a state obligation to investigate.


When we initiated the Religious Track – what is now referred to as RTCYPP in the world of abbreviations, we used the framework of human rights as the basis of this peace building initiative of the religious leaders of Cyprus who have expressed and shown their full commitment to work together for human rights, peace and reconciliation.


HB Arch. Chrysostomos II and HE Mufti Talip Atalay are the first religious leaders of Cyprus in over 5 decades who established working relationship with each other with the help of Swedish supported facilitation.


Since 2012 they have been joined by the religious leaders of the Maronite, Armenian and Latin faith communities.


A quiet initiative that started in 2009, RTCYPP has evolved into an active peacebuilding effort in Cyprus where religious leaders now advocate for the right of the other.


The role of the facilitation is to assist the religious leaders to work together in order to bring their constructive contribution to the Cyprus peace process.


The issue of missing persons has been on the agenda of the RTCYPP since 2014.


In February 2016 we were very honored and proud to be able to facilitate and organize the first joint visit of the religious leaders of Cyprus to the Anthropological lab in cooperation with the CMP.


The primary aim of the efforts of the religious leaders of which the visit was part of was to support the most pressing need of the relatives of the missing since the tragic events of ‘63-64 and ‘74.


There is nothing more important than the need and right to know the fate of your loved ones.


Nothing more painful than not knowing the fate of your loved one - The human need to put a closure to pain, to mourn, to heal can’t be taken lightly.


Truth is also one of the key pillars of forgiveness and part of a process of reconciliation and hence important on a macro level as well.


I have been personally touched by the full commitment of all the religious leaders to do whatever they can to assist the work of the CMP and the associations of relatives in the process to encourage all those who have information to come forth and share it.


Instead of a written statement we decided to have their first- ever joint appeal in a video message.

Today we are here with the religious leaders or their representatives and you to release it and show it publicly for the first time.


I would not have been able to produce this if it was not for a young Danish editor assisted by a Swedish young sister and brother, one who composed the music and the other who assisted me, as well as the editor and the composer.  Kasper, Linnea and Mattias.


I thank them wholeheartedly. They worked with me with all their hearts.


I also want to express my thanks to my friends and colleagues at the ADHR and H4C, Avgi Stavrou at the Embassy of Sweden , Elsie & Aris Utidjian of the Armenian community who volunteered to do the translations. Thanks also to the staff members of the CDF.


Sincere thanks to the CMP members and colleagues who guided us and worked with us.  We could not have asked for better partners.


Thanks also to UNFICYP, especially the communication and civil affairs dept.s for all their assistance in dissemination and communication.  Sincere gratitude to the UNFICYP peacekeepers at Ledra Palace for their great assistance and hospitality by providing us the space and all their efforts to set it up as we wanted it.


Last but not least appreciation to the Government of Sweden, Ambassador Olsson Vrang, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus and my programme assistant Linnea Franda without whom this evening would not have been possible.



This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights.


The mere fact that a diverse group like the one we have here, has gathered here today for us is a testimony for Human Rights.


“We the peoples” can take a stand for rights.


And together, we can take a stand for more humanity.  It starts with each of us. .


Together let us step forward for the rights of the relatives of the missing to know the fate of their loved ones, today and every day.


Wherever we are, we can make a real difference.


Thank you.


© Office of RTCYPP 2017

Home for Cooperation, UN Buffer Zone

Nicosia, Cyprus