Photo Exhibition Illustrates Religious Relics from Occupied Areas
Nicosia, Jan 20 - Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II inaugurated on Monday a photographic exhibition, titled “Hostages in Germany”, in the presence of President Demetris Christofias.
The focus of the exhibition is the looting of Cyprus’s cultural and religious heritage in the northern Turkish occupied areas of the country by Turkish antiquities dealers and mainly the well known art dealer Aydin Dikmen. The exhibition reveals the extent of looting at 50 churches in an area from Karpass peninsula and Famagusta town on the east to Kythrea, Nicosia, Karavas and Morphou, on the north and northwest of the island.
Addressing the event, Archbishop Chrysostomos II stressed that the photographs “shock our consciences.”
“The photographs depict church relics which were found in 1997, when the German police and Interpol swoop in the apartments of the well known Turkish antiquities dealer Aydin Dikmen in Munich. A German court decided in 2004 that the evidence which had been presented was not enough to prove the Cypriot origin of all the stolen treasures. The court was however convinced about the Cypriot origin of 169 photographs,” the Archbishop said.
Archbishop Chrysostomos also pointed out that for many years these stolen treasures of Cyprus, which come from approximately fifty churches in the northern occupied areas of the island, are in fact hostages in Munich and are waiting for the “sacred day”, as he said, of their return to Cyprus.
The primate of the Church of Cyprus welcomed seven religious icons which, having been looted and taken abroad, are now repatriated and on display with the photographs.
Finally, Archbishop Chrysostomos wished that all religious relics which have been stolen from Cyprus are repatriated.
Since the 1974 Turkish invasion, illegal art dealers, with the help or tolerance or cover of the Turkish Cypriot occupation regime, have often taken religious and other treasures out of the country to sell them on the black market. The Church of Cyprus and the government of the Republic of Cyprus have made and are making great efforts to locate and repatriate such relics.