MP Kat Theophanous suspended after Cyprus speech causes party friction

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Northcote MP Kat Theophanous has been suspended from a sub-faction of the Victorian Labor Party after giving a speech in Victorian Parliament on the Turkish invasion of Cyprus that has triggered conflict within the party.

According to The Herald Sun, the MP was suspended from a sub faction of the party’s Right, the Cons faction, after sparking anger with the speech.

There had been a push to expel her but an indefinite suspension was negotiated instead.

As reported in The Greek Herald earlier this month, Ms Theophanous spoke in Parliament seeking support for a just solution to the Cyprus issue after the 1974 Turkish invasion.

“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.”

“Together we condemned the illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkey, which contravenes international law and UN resolutions, and we called for the right of return for Cypriot refugees to their ancestral homelands. The resolution appeals to all parliaments, including this one, to fully support the UN-led efforts for a peaceful, just and viable Cyprus settlement.”

Ms Theophanous explained that her mother’s village, Asha, remained under Turkish control.

“It is occupied by Turkish military, who rounded up the Greek civilians, executed them and dumped their bodies into mass graves,” she said.

“The international community has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus and a peaceful resolution – a chillingly similar scenario to Ukraine now. I stand in solidarity with them.”

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

Natalie Suleyman MP.

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

“It’s pretty extraordinary she’s been penalised internally for a position that is held by many countries.

“It’s akin to moving on a First Nations person who raises concerns about the history of their people.” a source said.

Members of the faction have downplayed the suspension.

The suspension has also prompted fears of broader implications for the party including calling on the Victorian branch to formally recognise Greek and Armenian genocides.

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