By Serpil Kadirlar
Leader of the struggle for existence and freedom for the Turkish Cypriots, Dr Fazıl Küçük, will be commemorated this week what is now the the 35th anniversary of his death.
Founding President Rauf Raif Denktaş will also be commemorated today (13/01/2019) on the 7th anniversary of his death.
A ceremony has been organised and will take place at Anıt Tepe and Atatürk Culture Centre for Founding President Rauf Raif Denktaş, while Existence and Freedom Struggle Leader of the Turkish Cypriot people, Dr. Fazıl Küçük will also be commemorated with a ceremony at the Dr Fazıl Küçük Monument on Tuesday 15th January.
Dr. Fazıl Küçük was the founder of the Turkish Cypriot National Union Party. Following a 15-year struggle, Küçük helped for the transfer of the Evkaf rights from British to Turkish Cypriot control, after it had been usurped during colonial Cyprus.
During the 1959 London and Zurich Conferences for the creation of an independent Republic of Cyprus, Küçük represented the Turkish Cypriot community and was able to secure constitutional safeguards for the people. On December 3, 1959 Küçük was elected Vice President of the new Republic. Following Greek Cypriot attempts to modify the constitution, Küçük continued as the Vice President of the Republic of Cyprus until 1973 when he was succeeded by Rauf Denktaş.
Despite ill health, Küçük continued to support Turkish Cypriots through his Halkın Sesi newspaper. Küçük died in a Westminster hospital on January 15, 1984, less than a year after the Unilateral declaration of Independence of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
Rauf Raif Denktaş was born in Paphos to judge Raif Mehmet Bey and Emine Hanim. He graduated from The English School, Nicosia in Cyprus. Following his graduation he worked as a translator in Famagusta, after that as a court clerk and then as a teacher for one year in the English School. He later went to Istanbul and London, training first as a teacher and then as a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. He graduated in 1947 and returned home to practice law.
In 1948 Denktaş served as a member of the Consultative Assembly in search of self-government for Cyprus and became a member of the Turkish Affairs Committee. He was a crown prosecutor between 1949–1958. In 1957, Denktaş played the lead role in the founding of the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT), which was formed to resist EOKA’s attempt to proclaim Enosis (union with Greece)
In 1958, he attended the U.N. General Assembly on behalf of the Turkish-Cypriots, and in December of that year he advised the Turkish Government on the rights of Turkish Cypriots during the preparation of the London and Zurich Agreements (signed 19 February 1959). In 1960, Cyprus won independence from Britain, and the Republic of Cyprus was established. Denktaş was elected as the President of the Turkish Communal Chamber.
Then the paramilitary action against the Turks began in December 1963, after which Turkish-Cypriots were forced to withdraw from government. Upon these events, Denktaş went to Ankara for consultations with the Turkish government. His re-entry to the island was prohibited by the Greek-Cypriot leadership between the years 1964–68 due to his involvement with TMT. During the 1973 vice presidential elections, he replaced Dr Fazıl Küçük.
Denktaş was subsequently elected President of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in 1976 and for a second term in 1981.
He played a key role in the 1983 Unilateral Declaration of Independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and was elected as the President of the TRNC in 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000.
Denktaş’s health gradually deteriorated throughout the 2000s. He had a heart condition and on 25 May 2011 suffered a stroke. He died on 13 January 2012 of multiple organ failure at the Near East University Hospital in Nicosia.