Greek and Cypriot Community condemn suspension of Kat Theophanous MP in letter to Premier of Victoria

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Greek and Cypriot Communities of Melbourne have sent a letter to the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, to oppose the suspension of Kat Theophanous MP from a sub-faction of the Victorian Labor Party.

Northcote MP, Kat Theophanous, was suspended after giving a speech in Victorian Parliament on the Turkish invasion of Cyprus earlier this month, which triggered conflict within the party. 

“It has been 49 years since Turkey invaded Cyprus, illegally seizing and violently occupying 36 per cent of the island, displacing hundreds of thousands of people,” she said.

“I am proudly Cypriot Australian, and this year, along with eight other Hellenic Australian parliamentarians, we passed a resolution at the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association’s general assembly.”

The comments made during the address infuriated Senior minister Natalie Suleyman and sparked rage among the ALP’s large Turkish base.

A motion to suspend Ms Theophanous was moved by minister Melissa Horne.

In the letter, 20 Greek and Cypriot Communities of Melbourne are calling for the reversal of the suspension of Ms Theophanous. The letter also includes an appeal to the Premier to confirm the long-standing position of the Victorian Labor Party government in support of Australia’s official position on Cyprus.  

Full Open Letter below:

Dear Premier,

We write to you as numerous Greek and Cypriot Communities of Melbourne to express our deep concern and strong opposition to the reported suspension of Kat Theophanous MP from a significant faction of the Labor Party. 

It is unacceptable for Ms Theophanous to be suspended as punishment for her speech in Parliament on the 49th Anniversary of the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation of 37% of Cyprus. 

The speech was entirely in keeping with United Nations resolutions that call for the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops and a peaceful, just, and viable Cyprus settlement negotiated through United Nations processes. 

The Greek and Cypriot communities form an integral part of Australia with a combined population of more than 500,000, and these matters are deeply felt. 

Ms Theophanous description of the atrocities committed in her mother’s hometown of Asha by Turkish troops are personally felt and are fully documented. She had every right to speak of this in Parliament without being punished for so doing.

It is also worth noting Premier that Ms Theophanous in her speech stated that both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have suffered and that to this day Nicosia tragically remains the world’s last divided capital.

Given what has occurred we call on you Premier to:

  • Confirm the long-standing position of your government in support of Australia’s official position on Cyprus.  
  • Call for the reversal of the suspension of Ms Theophanous. 

Premier, in a modern multicultural nation, it is imperative that citizens and Members of Parliament can speak of generational trauma and deeply felt injustice without being punished for speaking the truth.

We therefore call on you to reaffirm your government’s commitment to freedom of expression and against racial discrimination. We also seek an urgent meeting with you and a delegation of the below signatories to discuss these matters.

Your Sincerely,  

John Christou 

President 

The Community of Cypriots of Northern Suburbs of Melbourne 

On behalf of all organisations and communities listed below:

1. Cyprus Community of Melbourne & Victoria  

2. Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne  

3. SEKA Victoria – Justice for Cyprus

4. Cyprus Greek Community “Apostolos Andreas” Sunshine

5. Greek Cypriot Parent and Youth Club, Sunshine

6. National Union of Greek-Australian Students  

7. Thessaloniki Association “The White Tower”  

8. Zenon Education Centre  

9. Greek-Australian Cultural League of Melbourne 

10. Panarcadian Federation of Victoria 

11. The Greek Community of Oakleigh & Districts  

12. Australian Hellenic Council Federation of Pontian Association of Australia

13. Food for Thought Network Inc 

14. Panepirotic Federation of Australia 

15. Central Pontian Assoc of Melbourne and Victoria (Pontiaki Estia) 

16. The Pontian Community of Melbourne

17. The Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commence and Industry (Vic) Inc

18. Creta Brotherhood of Melbourne & Victoria

19. The Hellenic Orthodox Community of Geelong

20. The Greek Elderly Club of Geelong

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