Exhibition spanning collective memory of Imbros cancelled after pressures
An exhibition documenting the backlash of inter communal violence and rising tensions in Cyprus on the island of Imbros (officially Gokceada), once a Greek-majority settlement, was cancelled on Thursday upon the targeting of the event on social media.
Documents on incidents that befell the members of the Greek community of the island in 1964, when the Cyprus conflict was used by the Turkish government as an excuse for forced demographic change, would be exhibited in the event organized by journalist Melike Capan.
Capan said in Twitter on Wednesday:
"We were compelled to make a hard decision after our exhibition was targeted in social media yesterday. Upon pressures by some groups on state institutions, we unfortunately had to cancel the exhibition, which was intended to contribute to building a shared future. Our priority is making sure that no harm comes upon any community regardless of its identity, faith and language."
Imbros that in 1893 had an ethnic Greek population of over 9,300 and only 99 Muslims, had only 420 Greeks left in 2018, while the Muslim population neared 9,000. Persecution against the local Greek element started intensifying in early 1960s and climaxed in 1964, shortly after rising inter communal violence left hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots dead in Cyprus in 1963.
In 1964, the Turkish government appropriated most of the cultivated land in Imbros, approved the settlement of 6,000 Turks from mainland Turkey, closed the Greek schools, and classified the island as a so-called "supervised zone," meaning expatriates could not visit the island and their family homes without permission. The Greek community was further targeted by means of the construction of an open prison. Many among the inmates were convicts of rape and murder, who were allowed to roam freely on the island and harass locals.