Aydin Mehmet Ali: Why Cypriots need to break the silence of their unofficial history

Roundup: Talking About History

One of the greatest intellectuals of the Turkish Cypriot community, Aydin Mehmet Ali who is an international education consultant, author and trainer spoke to Toplum Postas? about the need for Cypriots (both Greek and Turkish Cypriots) to break the chains of their silence over unofficial history that has for so long been swept under their Cypriot carpets. Rather than relying on the elite who impose their official history, Ayd?n explains why it is imperative that Cypriots take ownership of their past to heal past wounds and make peace with themselves. Ayd?n asks: “if we are not at peace with yourself then how are you going to face the other person, the other whom you demonise for so?”
Q. Why exactly is unofficial history?
A. Firstly, we need to recognise that there are different pasts. There’s the formal history that is spoken about, written about and celebrated, but there’s the unspoken history that people have actually lived through, but it never surfaces. If it does it surfaces in unofficial corners or it is hidden in some way.

It is only when you are talking to somebody that they might mention something to you that is not in the history books. It is not in the arena of the official history that is being perpetuated. It puts into the question how much of official history actually took place and why a small minority of people are imposing that history, as the only history that exists.
Q. Why are Cypriot silent of this?

A. Many Cypriots today are silent about the unofficial history, the acts and events that had not only been created for them but they have created for themselves. Because every single person, who had to go through a number of wars, or conflict situations were in some way or another involved.
Whether you were a teacher, shepherd, woman or even a hitman, everybody played a role. There are women who talk about taking apart and cleaning guns, or making bread using crushed macaroni. There were women who were raped that are never spoken about; there were Cypriot Turkish people who were killed by other Cypriot Turkish people. It is a part of our unofficial history!
Q. Why is it important to unearth an otherwise forgotten history?
A. I think the importance of unearthing unofficial history is important from a number of angles, firstly to complete the picture presented to us, which is in favour of the power elites in many ways, but also in taking ownership in what we actually did and how we did it. Unless we come to terms with some of those and complete the picture then we will always be living with a lie and I think that does not really create for a healthy society.
So if we want to face some of those issues that are very painful and those who were perpetrating some of those horrific crimes against fellow human rights. We need to find way to come to terms with that to find a way to heal many of the wounds we have created....

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