9 December 2020
On Saturday December 5th, we were informed through the “social media” about a re-desecration of the church of Archangel Michael, a historic building, in occupied Lefkonoiko. The Christian temple, which is a 12th century three-church basilica with expansions from the 15th and 19th century, includes parts of frescoes from the 12th, 16th and 19th centuries. Preservation works were carried out by the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Culture, with funds by the European Commission, and the intervention of UNDP/PFF. The restoration was completed in 2017. Despite many requests to celebrate the divine liturgy in the church, the occupying regime only allowed it once, on the feast of Archangel Michael.
The re-desecration was organized by the “Municipality” of Lefkonoiko, along with EVKAF and the “EVKAF Goodness Volunteers” organizations, who set up a bazaar inside the temple and around it.
Unfortunately, the recent re-desecration of a Christian monument, after its preservation and restoration, was preceded by a re-desecration of the Cathedral of Virgin Mary (Panagia Odigitria – Bedestan) in occupied Nicosia. The occupying regime converted the church into a cultural center in 2009.
It is well known that the European Union is funding the work of the Technical Committee on Culture seeking to preserve the cultural heritage of Cyprus and to restore trust between the two communities, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot. The re-desecration of the church of Archangel Michael undermines the aforementioned approach, and seriously damages the efforts towards a peaceful coexistence of the two communities. It is also a manifest violation of the religious freedom and dignity of the Greek Cypriots.
We urge the President of the Republic of Cyprus, and also the responsible parties within the European Commission, to reevaluate the terms under which the Technical Committee on Culture functions as soon as possible, and to establish provisions for the respect of the use of monuments according to the original purpose for which the monuments were built. Any other use is considered a desecration, and is against the human rights and the religious freedom of their lawful owners.
The Synodal Committee for Church Constructions, Monuments and Christian Art of the Church of Cyprus