THE FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND CENSORSHIP IN THE TURKISH CYPRIOT PRESS DURING THE BRITISH COLONIAL PERIOD (1878-1960)
By Ahmet Djavit An
Researcher on Turkish Cypriot Political and Cultural History.
With the beginning of the British Administration, various weeklies were published in Cyprus with the building of the first Printing Houses. When these newspapers made critics against the policy of the Ottoman Authorities in Istanbul, they were forced to close by the Turkish Cypriot owners in Cyprus. The weekly newspapers “Yeni Zaman”, “Kıbrıs”, the satirical “Kokonoz” and “Akbaba”, “Feryad”, “Mirat-ı Zaman” were closed after their publishers surrendered to the Sultan’s wishes.
The “Doğru Yol” newspaper was under the censorship in May 1920, when it published some columns as blank. The owner of “Söz” weekly, Remzi Okan, was put into prison for two months, because he wrote critical articles about Sait Molla, who was a pro-British Ottoman, sent to Cyprus for exile by the Sultan.
The “Masum Millet” newspaper of the advocate M.Rifat also had problem with the censorship of the British in the first years of 1930’s. The Kemalist newspapers, “Söz” and “Ses”, which were using the words “fatherland” and “our Atatürk” frequently, were put under censorship before the Turkish military school ship “Hamidiye” made a visit to the island.
There were also other cases of censorship, when a book on the “Turks of Cyprus”, published in Turkey by an author of Turkish Cypriot origin, was not allowed to be distributed in Cyprus and a film about the funeral of Kemal Atatürk was not given permission to be screened again at the end of 1930’s.
The last closure of a T/C progressive weekly newspaper “İnkılapçı” was in December 1955, when the Emergency Laws were enforced and all the left-wing newspapers in Cyprus were closed.
Keywords: Cyprus, Ottoman Sultan, Turkish Cypriots, censorship, Kemalism, British colonial administration
The rule of Cyprus was transferred from the Ottoman Empire to the British Empire in 1878, but Cyprus remained as an Ottoman territory until the annexation of the island by Britain in 1914. The Muslim-Turkish community, together with the Greek-Christian community, continued to have the Ottoman nationality until then.
This paper shows the oppressive character of the Ottoman Sultan, which resulted with the closure of the critical Turkish newspapers published in Cyprus from 1878 until 1914. After the annexation of the island to Great Britain, the situation did not change. Especially the newspapers that disseminated the modern Kemalist ideas from the new Turkish Republic embarrassed the British colonial administration in Cyprus, since it caused a rivalry between the emerging Greek Cypriot nationalism with the aim of Cyprus’s union with Greece and Turkish Cypriot nationalism, which developed a religious community into a national one in this process.
The title of this paper was given to me years ago by my Greek Cypriot friend Andreas Sophocleus, who asked me to look into the old collections of Turkish Cypriot press. I was already doing a research with my Turkish Cypriot friend, Harid Fedai on the history of Turkish Cypriot newspapers. Mr.Fedai was a Turkologist and he could read those old newspapers with Arabic letters published before 1930 and he had a rich collection of Turkish Cypriot newspapers. I remember both of them with respect, who are not among us today. Since this will be the first study on the subject, I used mainly the newspaper material I read in the old collections of Turkish Cypriot newspapers.
First Turkish Cypriot Newspapers
The publication of the first newspapers in Cyprus started with the coming of first printing machine to the island in 1878. Although we do not have a copy that has survived to the present day, the first Turkish newspaper published on the island by a Turkish Cypriot, was the “Saded” (Topic) newspaper. According to the records, the first issue of this weekly newspaper was published on 11 July 1889 by Mehmet Emin Efendi, who was a retired person from the Property Directorate. The “Saded” was published only 16 issues.
Two years later, on 25 December 1891, we see the first issue of the “Zaman” (Time) newspaper, which was published until 2 September 1900 and we have its whole collection. Therefore, some people prefer to begin the Turkish Cypriot press history with this newspaper. The “Zaman” newspaper was published by the “Osmanlı Kıraathanesi” (Ottoman Reading Room), which was established by a group of Turkish Cypriot notables, who were worried about the future of the island. The merchant Hacı Derviş Efendi was the owner of the newspaper and Muzafferrüddin Galip, who was brought from Istanbul, was the chief author. Journalist Mehmet Remzi (Okan) made the following assessment regarding Zaman’s publications: “When we look at the publication of the daily “Zaman”, we can say that the main purpose of this newspaper was to serve Sultan Hamid and to smother the young ideas that were awakened in favour of legitimacy and freedom at the time!”
After one year of publication, Derviş Efendi had a dispute with the members of the administrative committee of the Ottoman Reading Room. In the second year, Hacı Derviş Efendi continued to publish the newspaper on his own name. Because his publication was in favour of the Sultan, the merchant Hacı Derviş Efendi, the publisher of the daily Zaman, was rewarded with the rank of “mir-i miran” (grand seigneur) on 10 February 1895 and he was started to be called “Derviş Paşa”. A few years later, when the writers of the newspaper started to criticize the Istanbul government and to publish articles that supported the “Young Turk Movement”, the rank of Derviş Paşa was withdrawn by the Sultan. Thereupon, Hacı Derviş Efendi began to intervene in the articles, published in the newspaper and some of the writers, who did not like this, left the newspaper. “Zaman” newspaper continued for a while, until the publication ended on 2 September 1900, with the issue No. 423.
After the Ottoman Reading House separated its way with “Zaman” newspaper, “Yeni Zaman” (New Time) newspaper started to be published on 22 August 1892. As in “Zaman”, the writers of this newspaper were Muzafferüddin Galib and Mehmed Faik Bey. Faik Bey once again criticized Memduh Paşa and one day he left Cyprus for Istanbul and never came back. As the two writers left the island and settled in Istanbul before the end of the year, “Yeni Zaman” newspaper had to stop its publication on 27 February 1893 with its last issue No. 28.
Upon the closure of the “Yeni Zaman”, Kûfizade Mustafa Asaf Bey obtained permission from the colonial government to publish a new newspaper in his name. On 6 March 1893 he began to publish the weekly newspaper, called “Kıbrıs” (Cyprus). In every aspect, this newspaper was considered as the continuation of the “Yeni Zaman” and therefore its first copy had the No. 29. The “Kıbrıs” newspaper, like the “Zaman”, first published in loyalty to the Sultan of the time, but later was influenced by the “Young Turk” movement and began to be popular among the people with its articles. As journalist Mehmet Remzi (Okan) stated below, these publications continued until 1898 and one day the newspaper suddenly closed down:
“Despite all our research, it has not been possible to learn the real reasons for the closure of the “Kıbrıs” newspaper. However, according to the information given to us by a person, who was involved in these drafts at that time, the Cypriot newspaper owner had an agreement with Memduh Paşa, the Minister of Internal Affairs, and closed the newspaper upon the orders and signs he received from him. If we have to believe the claim of the same person, Asaf Bey agreed to close down “Kıbrıs” on the condition of receiving 500 kurush per month and he received this money regularly until the declaration of the constitution (1908).” 
Ahmet Tevfik Efendi, who was one of the writers that left “Zaman” newspaper after Derviş Paşa interfered with the writers, started to publish the first Turkish Cypriot humour newspaper named “Kokonoz” (Old Man) on 27 November 1896. However, “Kokonoz” ended its publication with the 22nd issue of 17 September 1897. “Kokonoz” was prevented from entering the Ottoman territory, according to an order dated 10 August 1897 and an additional letter sent to the Ministry of Interior, Customs, Zaptiye and the Ministry of Post and Telegraph.
Immediately after “Kokonoz” stopped its publication, a humour newspaper, called “Akbaba” (Vulture), was published by Ahmet Tevfik Efendi on 1 October 1897, which was accepted as the continuation of “Kokonoz”. After a while, the “Kokonoz” adopted the ideas of the “Young Turk” movement and Ahmet Tevfik Efendi started to attack the Sultan with open and very sharp satire. We learned from an article titled “The Consequence of Wrongfulness” published in this newspaper on 27 May 1898 (No: 17) that the “Akbaba” was banned by the Sultan for a second time, because the newspaper “advocated not to give back Thessaly”. Perhaps the transition from “Kokonoz” to “Akbaba” was in order to bypass this ban.
According to Mehmet Remzi, “That is why the number of readers of “Akbaba” has decreased and poor Tevfik Efendi has fallen into a very affectionate state. As if this problem was not enough, Sultan Hamid sentenced him to death and has prohibited him to go to Turkey with this decision.” After three months, Akbaba had to stop its publication on 19 August 1898 (No.23).
The pro-Young Turk “Feryad” (Scream) was a fortnightly newspaper, published by Hocazade Osman Enveri, only four issues between 11 December 1899 and 31 January 1900. Mehmet Remzi made the following assessment regarding the “Feryad” newspaper: “Although Feryad appeared as a genuine Young Turk newspaper, it stopped after 4 issues and never appeared later. According to the information we received privately, the newspaper “Feryad” was again closed on the sign of the Ottoman Government and the owner was allocated three hundred kurush per month! At that time, while the Greek Cypriots established newspapers one after another, we were setting up printing offices in order to grab a few kurush and closing it at the first opportunity. When one examines these events, one feels like to curse the Sultan and the vizier of that time!” 
According to the information provided by Mehmet Remzi, the first four issues of “Mirat-ı Zaman” (Mirror of Time), the first issue of which was published on 3 March 1900, were published by Ahmet Tevfik Efendi, the owner and director of the newspaper, as a stone print. Later, he interrupted his publication and published regularly every week after 27 April 1901. The newspaper “Mirat-ı Zaman” ceased its publication between 25 November 1901 and 16 June 1902. Later, the publication continued at intervals. The writers of “Mirat-ı Zaman” were Ahmet Tevfik Efendi and Rıza Bey from Vize. According to a document, dated 19 June 1901, they were tried in absentia, on 14 July 1901, according to the Ottoman Penal Code. It was alleged that “they dared to make some harmful and treacherous publication” in this newspaper. They were sentenced for “a life-long stay in a walled city” and “to be rendered from the civil law” and “the already-foreclosure of their property has been decided to be managed.”  But despite this decision, “Mirat-ı Zaman” continued its publication with intervals and eventually stopped its publication on 18 April 1910 (Issue No.368)
The pro-Young Turk “Mirat-ı Zaman” newspaper, which had mutual discussions with the “Sünuhat” (in Arabic it means “the issues that came to mind”) newspaper, published in 1906, was supporting the “Vatan” (Fatherland) newspaper of Bodamyalızade Mehmet Şevket Bey, a member of the Legislative Assembly, which appeared in 1911 and it was opposing the pro-Evkaf newspaper, Seyf (Sword). According to Harid Fedai, “Because of the influx of the Turkish newspapers, coming to the island after the Second Constitutionalism in Turkey, the circulation of the “Mirat-ı Zaman” fell down. Ahmed Tevfik Efendi would also try his luck again by publishing the humor newspaper “Kokonoz”.  Between 2 May 1910 and 28 June 1910, Ahmet Tevfik Efendi re-published the weekly humour newspaper “Kokonoz”, but he stopped publishing after 9 issues. Mehmet Remzi made this evaluation for him: “Regarding the difficulties he was confronted for the sake of his profession and his persistence and strength, we are in the opinion that Ahmet Tevfik Efendi was the most valuable deceased Cypriot journalist.” 
Hacı Mehmet Arif Efendi was the owner of the “Sünuhat” newspaper, which had 246 issues, published between 1 October 1906 and 3 November 1912. His son, Professor Ahmet Şükrü Esmer, in an interview with Cemalettin Ünlü, described the Sünuhat’s political attitude as follows: “As for our newspaper, being pro-Sultan at that time, meant being on the side of the Sultan and being from Istanbul. The loyalty to the meant loyalty to Turkey. As a matter of fact, the policy of our newspaper changed after the 1908 Constitutional Monarchy and started to publish articles in favour of the Committee of Union and Progress. That is why our newspaper opposed the British policy of Evkaf, confronted Musa Irfan Bey at the head of Evkaf and started a fight with the newspaper Mir’at-ı Zaman, which supported them. (...) There was freedom in the Cyprus press, I can say. The British were tolerant to the press. In fact, this was their traditional attitude towards the press. I can say that they would never interfere.” 
Let us continue with the Printer Mehmet Akif’s account of the events: “(After the closure of the “Kıbrıs” newspaper on 21 December 1914, due to World War I) no Turkish newspaper was published in Cyprus until 1919, because England was at war with Turkey. Already the Turkish community was not used to giving money for a newspaper. The newspapers appeared to the benefit of the community, but in fact, they were simply snatching a cone or holding a personal grudge or hunting the community for someone else’s account.” 
According to an article, titled “Apology to our readers” published in “Doğru Yol” (Right Path) newspaper on 14 April 1920 (Issue: 29), it was understood that some of the articles of the newspaper, published at that time, were censored by the British colonial administration and therefore the censored places appeared in white. The referred article wrote the following: “The profession that “Doğru Yol” has followed since its first publication is known to our readers. For this reason, we do not say much about it, we leave the appreciation to commentators. From now on, our newspaper will not be able to subjugate the readers’ view as pleasant as before. Therefore, we ask that they have no bad opinions about us. On the ground that our newspaper has been subjected to censorship by the Directorate of the War Department since this week, the places of the free articles seen in our previous issues will be seen as white. We hope that our readers will appreciate our position under this obligation and will not spare the abundance of affection they have shown for us until so far.”
In 1925, the advocate Ahmet Raşit, editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Doğru Yol”, was opposing to İrfan Bey, the Director of the Department of Evkaf and he also published dissenting articles by Dr.Eyyub Necmeddin in his newspaper.
Kemalist “Söz” newspaper of Mehmet Remzi Okan
According to the information quoted by Oktay Öksüzoğlu from Vedia Okan, Mehmet Remzi Okan’s article, titled “There are treacherous and seditious persons among us, beware” was published in “Söz” (Word) newspaper on 3 April 1926, which caused the imprisonment of Mehmet Remzi Okan for two months.  In “Söz” newspaper of 15 June 1926, Mehmet Remzi Okan announced to his readers his two months’ imprisonment, because of a personal attack on Sait Molla, who was a pro-British Turkish statesman, residing in Cyprus.
After the declaration of the Republic of Turkey, “Söz” and “Doğru Yol” newspapers were supporting the right of the Turkish Cypriots to immigrate to Turkey, according to the Lausanne Treaty. On the other hand, the “Birlik” (Unity) newspaper of Hacıbulgurzade Ahmet Hulusi was against the immigration.
I continue with Printer Akif’s account, as he describes these two tendencies:
“On 4 September (1926), Mr. M. Fehmi and his brother A. Retmi went to the prison with some of his friends and took Remzi Okan out. When Remzi Okan saw the article against the immigration in “Söz” newspaper that they gave him in the carriage on the way, he became angry against Fehmi Bey and he could not calm his anger until he came to the printing office. As a reaction to Remzi Okan’s angriness against Fehmi Bey, Fehmi Bey only responded with the following short sentences: “Remzi Efendi, my conscience orders me to warn the Turks of the island by writing against such embarrassment. If you are happy with it, OK. If you’re not, it’s your problem.” Akif continues: “On the other hand, “Birlik” newspaper continued its seriousness. At that time, an article was sent by the Pharmacist M. Münir to the newspaper “Söz” and “Doğru Yol” against the immigration, but neither of the newspapers published this article. Since its author had a copy of the article, the same article was sent to “Birlik” newspaper and it was published there.” 
The first issue of “Masum Millet” (Innocent Nation) newspaper was published on 11 April 1931. After its issue, published on 14 March 1932 (No: 43), it did not come out due to censorship for more than 5 months. On 18 August 1932 (No: 44), there was only a publication of a “Supplement to “Masum Millet”. The main newspaper was not published again for three and a half months. The owner and the editor of the newspaper “John Rifat” (nick-name of Cengizzade Mehmet Rifat) explained this interval as follows: “Since the censorship intervened to our articles, which were not related with the government, but with our national affairs, we put our publication on holiday in the first week of April until 3 December 1932, when the new governor arrived.” 
“Masum Millet” was re-published on 3 December 1932 as a “Supplement to “Innocent Nation” (Issue: 45). (This time the title of the newspaper was not printed in Arabic letters, but in Latin letters.) “John Rifat”, who learned from the British press the arrival of Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs as the new governor of Cyprus, said “Welcome” to him in this issue and introduced the problems of the community to him in 11 points. “John Rifat” published 13 open letters addressed to the Undersecretariat of the Colony of Cyprus in the issues published between the 10 December 1932 (Issue 46) and 11 March 1933 (Issue 59).
Starting from 8 April 1933 (Issue: 63) onwards, the “Masum Millet” newspaper was published two times in a week. On 23 August 1933 (Issue: 102), “John Rifat” complained about “Söz” newspaper and wrote the following under the title of “Söz’s derived reign of censorship”:
“Mr. “Söz” must know well that the “Masum Millet”, who succeeded in abolishing the Government’s censorship administration with bayonet, will no longer submit to the derived reigns of censorship that have emerged as such.” The last issue of “Masum Millet” newspaper had the date of 29 August 1933 (Issue: 203).
As stated in British secret reports, when World War II began, “Söz” newspaper was described as Turkish nationalist and against the British colonial government. According to a report, dated 29 October 1937, from Governor Palmer to the British Secretary of State, the publication of the “Söz” was suspended for a month in 1937 (between 17 August 1937 and 17 September 1937). In an article published in “Söz”, it was written that “there was a life of imprisonment on the island and the only way to escape from this prison was through Turkey”. Therefore, the newspaper had been placed under constant censorship since June 1938. The British officials stated that no other newspaper, except the “Söz”, was subject to constant censorship on the island. Mr. Remzi had petitioned the authorities to abolish this censorship.
When the Turkish Cypriot newspaper “Ses” (Voice) wanted to publish on its issue of 14 June 1938, an article with the title “Turkish Cypriots Help to the Earthquake (Victims)”, originally published in Cumhuriyet newspaper on 7 June 1938 (in İstanbul), it was censored. In this article, “The greatness of the feelings of brotherhood between the Turkish Cypriots and the homeland Turks” was mentioned and the attitude of the Evkaf administration was criticized.”
It is known from the official records that both “Söz” and “Ses” newspapers, which were being published on the same ideological line, were censored on the occasion of the arrival of Hamidiye School Ship to Cyprus on 20 June 1938. Censorship began before the ship arrived in Cyprus and “Söz” newspaper announced this on 4 June 1938 as follows: “CENSOR: By the order of the Reverend Colonial Undersecretary, our newspaper will be censored from yesterday onwards until the order that will terminate it.”
The censorship was also applied on the “Ses” newspaper of 14 June 1938. However, Hasan İzzet Asım Bey, owner and director of “Ses” newspaper, died on 23 June 1938 and the publication of “Ses” ended.  The headline of the “Söz” on 21 June 1938 was “Hamidiye in our Island” and since the news was censored, the underneath of the headline was blank. In a secret report, dated 24 June 1938, sent from the British Colonial Governor Palmer to MacDonald, the following was reported: “The “Söz” and “Ses” newspapers have been making propaganda for Turkish nationalism for a long time, while they attack the Evkaf administration and frequently include concepts such as “Motherland” and “Our Atatürk’. Therefore, these newspapers were censored before Hamidiye arrived.”
The following information was included in a “secret and personal” letter, dated 30 June 1938, sent by the British Colonial Governor Palmer from Nicosia to the British Ambassador in Turkey Percy Lorainne: “The arrival of Hamidiye spurred the feelings of nationalism (among the Turks here). Moreover, the articles of the “Cumhuriyet” (Republic) newspaper (published in Turkey) on 24 May and 7 June issues are also of concern. The “Cumhuriyet” is a publication that can find a considerable readership in Cyprus. Finally, the Cyprus Governing Council had to take a decision, advising me not to forbid this newspaper from entering the island. I wanted to get your opinion on this issue before taking this prohibition and preventing it from entering Cyprus. Probably, the Republic of Turkey does not want its relations with Cyprus to be deteriorated. The “Söz” of 27 August 1938 wrote the following: “The Jubilee of the “Söz” will not be held.” The newspaper also published a letter signed by “Acting Colonial Secretary Stanley”. Censorship continued.
The “Söz” Newspaper of 18 October 1938, published the following news: “According to what is announced in the official newspaper, published on Friday, the importation to the island of the book called “Turks of Cyprus” (Kıbrıs Türkleri), printed and published in Turkey, has been called strictly forbidden. The police administration carried out research in some businesses and establishments, but could not find the book. The author of the book is İsmet Konur, History Teacher of Denizli (city).” The writer was born in Cyprus.
A letter, dated 12 January 1939, sent to the Minister of Colonies by Mehmet Remzi Okan, owner and editor of “Söz” daily, included the following complaint: “The Cyprus administration censors my newspaper without giving any reason, and I am not allowed to publish even the articles on Cyprus published in the Manchester Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Morning Post. I hope you will justify my belief that freedom of the press and thought within the Commonwealth is not an empty concept.” 
The following information from Battershill to Acheson was sent from Nicosia with a record of 15 September 1939 (Confidential): “Söz” is the only newspaper in Cyprus today under censorship. You shouldn’t answer Remzi for another two months. It is not appropriate for us to remove censorship for now. Moreover, we believe that the sister-in-law of the new Turkish consul is behind this “Söz” headache. Let’s implement the “wait and see” policy on this issue.”
The Turkish Cypriot press announced in December 1938 that the film, containing scenes from Atatürk’s funeral and life, would be brought to Cyprus and screened at the Papadopoulos cinema in Nicosia. But Governor Palmer forbade the film to be shown. This film about the funeral could only be screened in the mid-1940s. On 3 May 1939, speaking at the British Parliament, Mr. Foot criticized the Colonial Minister: “It is not right to prohibit the screening of the Atatürk film and the wedding film of the Greek Royal family, while films showing fascist movements and events are permitted on the island.” Colonial Minister MacDonald said in his reply that there was a censorship committee of civil and official authorities in Cyprus and that he had no control, and that he did not know why the film was banned.
M. Necati Ozkan started a series of articles, entitled “What are the real reasons for our tendency to head autonomous administration?” in “Söz” newspaper on 5 June 1937. Despite the fact that it was said at the end of the second article “to be continued”, “Söz” newspaper made the following statement in its copy on 12 June 1937: “Open information for Mr M. Necati Özkan: We hereby declare that we will not be able to publish the further parts of the precious articles that you have sent to be issued in the sequence, and we kindly ask you to excuse us. Director of “Söz”: M. R. Okan.”
On 22 July 1937, the Cumhuriyet newspaper (of Istanbul) published a news, written from Cyprus, under the title “An event that causes for the Turkish Cypriots excitement” and the event was announced to the Turkish public opinion as follows: “The “Ses” newspaper is the publication organ of those who attack and accuse with national betrayal the ones who seem to support the autonomous administration. (…) A second and stronger front of them was emerged with the Manifests, published by a personality called, the advocate Cengizzade M. Rifat, who studied law (!) in Turkey, knows very well Greek and English.”
The “Söz” newspaper referred in its issue of 4 August 1937 to the above news in its headline “The Cyprus correspondent of Cumhuriyet gives false news to its readers” and wrote this: “We stopped the articles of Necati Özkan, because what we think is sufficient for now. When the time and the day comes, we will never hesitate to publish the further parts of the article. Let us also add that there were no complaints by any of our readers for publishing Necati Özkan’s articles, on the contrary, there were many who wanted us to continue publishing those articles.” 
M. Necati Özkan wrote a letter on 19 February 1939 to the Secretary-General of the Republican People’s Party in Turkey and complained that Mr. Remzi’s family was under the influence of the British and therefore his articles were no longer published. He would like to ask for help in setting up a newspaper himself.
Advocate C.M.Rifat, one of the prominent figures of the Turkish Cypriot press, explained why he opposed giving autonomy to the administration of the island, with a series of manifests (Declarations), he issued in 1937. As Mr Rifat did not like the publication policies of the Turkish Cypriot newspapers “Söz” and “Ses”, he wrote in the “Kıbrıs” newspaper on 21 November 1949 the following about these hand-outs: “We had to publish these four manifests, since there were no other Turkish publication organ.” 
When Mehmet Remzi, the owner of “Söz” newspaper, went to Istanbul on 16 November 1941 for his illness, he died there on 22 January 1942. Vedia and Bedia, two of Mehmet Remzi’s daughters were not old enough to have a licence for a newspaper, therefore the publication of “Söz” had to stop on 10 February 1942. But a month later, this time, they put Dr. Fazıl Küçük as the licence owner and started to publish a new newspaper called “Halkın Sesi” (The Voice of the People) on 14 March 1942. According to Vedia Okan, 9 months later, because of an article by the columnist “Yavuz”, criticizing the government’s decision to move the schools to Lapta, the “Halkın Sesi” was sentenced to 3 months of closure and was forced to suspend its publication from 21 January 1943 until 21 April 1943. On the day, when the newspaper re-appeared, the “Halkın Sesi”, in an article titled “Getting Started Again” and signed by Dr. M. Fadıl Küçük, explained that “the newspaper had been closed for 3 months by the order of the Undersecretary. After that, the newspaper started to be published three times in a week, on Sunday-Wednesday-Friday. Dr. Küçük argued that this punishment was imposed by the British, who would allow the “Söz” to be published once again. Vedia Okan, one of Remzi Bey’s daughters, who had a disagreement with Dr. Küçük, got the licence of “Söz” newspaper, after she completed 25 years of age and started to publish “Söz” together with his sister Bedia on 5 March 1943, but this time on a daily basis.
Last years of British Adminstration
M. Necati Özkan, who was one of the Turkish Cypriot members of the Legislative Council, which was abolished in 1931, began to publish a daily newspaper called “İstiklâl” (Independence) on 28 October 1949. The newspaper informed its readers on 5 February 1950 as follows: “There was an ugly assault on our editor-in-chief by Enver Mustafa, the brother of Mehmet Ali Pamir, the Vice-President of the Turkish Cypriot Cultural Association in Ankara, This incident aroused sadness and hatred among our people. Necati Özkan’s glasses were broken in the first move and his right eye was seriously and dangerously injured.”
On 4 June 1950, Necati Özkan founded the “Turkish Cypriot Union Independence Party” and continued his political struggle for leadership against the political views of Dr. Küçük and his newspaper “Halkın Sesi” until the beginning of 1954. However, Necati Özkan had to close his newspaper with the its last copy of 13 January 1954 and withdrew from politics after his cigarette factory was burned “by unknown people” on the night of 6 December 1953.
The first issue of the newspaper “İnkılapçı” (Revolutionary) was published on 13 September 1955. It was owned by the Revolutionary Press Company Ltd. and its director was Fazıl Önder. In the first issue of the weekly “İnkılâpçı”, the purpose of the newspaper was described as follows: “The name of our newspaper is “Revolutionary”. We are revolutionaries. Our inspiration comes from the people of Turkey, who revolted against the internal enemies and external attackers in 1918-1922 and from Atatürks, who guided and led this movement.”
The newspaper began to be published on Mondays starting from its 11th issue of 21 November 1955 and wrote: ‘Now our goal is to come out twice a week very soon. We trust our people’. However, after the 14th issue, the Revolutionary had to stop publishing. In its final copy of 12 December 1955 (No: 14) there were the following news: “On the occasion of the 7th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, we invite the administrators of the Court to respect the human rights (Revolutionary)”. An article had the title “On the occasion of Cox’s visit to our island” by Fazıl Önder and another article, titled “Threat”wrote as follows: “We observe that random letters of threat have been sent here and there recently. Two weeks ago, we received a letter from Mr. Sevim, a prominent sportsman, from Limassol. A letter of the same setting came to our office the other day. Contents: ‘Stop the “Revolutionary” newspaper’, ‘you will be killed’, ‘your head will be crushed’ etc. “
The “İnkılapçı” was among the newspapers that the British colonial administration banned in December 1955 when a state of emergency was declared on the island. The “Hürsöz” (Free Word) newspaper provided the following information in its issue of 16 December 1955: “The weekly Turkish newspaper ‘İnkılâpçı’ was officially declared illegal. Other newspapers, banned for one year, were the Greek newspapers “Neos Demokratis” and “Aneksartitos” in Greek”. On 8 January 1956, Hürsöz reported as follows: “The Greek Cypriot communist newspaper “Embros” was closed yesterday. Its rooms in the Zavalli Printing House were sealed.”
Fazıl Önder, the 32-year-old owner and editor-in-chief of the Turkish “İnkılapçı” newspaper suffered a brutal murder on 24 May 1958. In this first wave of terrorism, initiated by the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT), an underground organization affiliated with the Turkish Cypriot leadership, other Turkish Cypriots known as left-leaning were either killed or injured. From now on, TMT intimidated both the Turkish Cypriot press and those, who thought differently from the leadership. Freedom of thought in the Turkish Cypriot community was suppressed for a long time after the British colonial rule ended in 1960.
The above narrative of events shows that the critical Turkish Cypriot newspapers were not tolerated either by the Ottoman Sultan or by the British colonial administration. The newspaper owners were bribed to stop their publications. The newspapers used blank columns in order to show the censored news or articles. There were cases that newspaper owners were put into prison or killed.
(This paper was read at International Conference on Colonial Cyprus (1878-1960) in memory of Aristides Coudounaris, held on 7-8 February 2020 at the University of Nicosia, organized by The Cyprus Society of Historical Studies in collaboration with the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Cyprus; the School of Law, University of Nicosia; and the Department of History, Political and International Studies, Neapolis University of Pafos.)
Bibliography (in Turkish):
1. An, Ahmet, The Political History of the Turkish Cypriots (1930-1960): The Forgotten Political History of the Turkish Cypriots and the Struggles for the Leadership in the Mirror of the Press, Nicosia 2006
2. An, Ahmet, The History of the Turkish Cypriot Press, Volume: 2, The List of Newspapers and Journals published by Turkish Cypriots (1878-2013, Nicosia 2013
3. Fedai, Harid and Ahmet An, The History of Turkish Cypriot Press with Excerpts (1891-1963), Volume: 1, Nicosia 2012
4. Gazioğlu, .Ahmet C., The Turks in the Circle of Enosis, Nicosia 1996
5. Gürel, Şükrü S., The History of Cyprus (1878-1960) Colonialism, Nationalism and International Politics, Volume: 1, Ankara 1984
6. Öksüzoğlu, Oktay, Portraits from the Turkish Cypriot Press: 1, Mehmet Remzi Okan, Nicosia 1990
7. Ünlü, Cemaleddin, The Press Event in Cyprus (1878-1981), Ankara 1981
 Harid Fedai and Ahmet An, The History of Turkish Cypriot Press with Excerpts (1891-1963) Vol:1, Nicosia 2012, p.7
 Asst. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Demiryürek, Turkish Cypriot Press and the Government of Turkey (Ottoman Period) (1878-1910), Ankara University, Journal of the Institute of Turkish Revolutionary History, May-November 2000, Issue 25-26, pp.128- 129
 H. Fedai and A. An, The History of Turkish Cypriot Press with Excerpts (1891-1963), Vol.1, Nicosia 2012, p.26
 From the writings of “Söz”, which were rude and mischievous and were similar with a Thief’s Lantern, Masum Millet, 25 October 1933, Issue:120
 Şükrü S. Gürel, History of Cyprus (1878-1960) Colonialism, Nationalism and International Politics, Vol:1, Ankara 1984, p.182
 Cited by Şükrü S. Gürel, ibid, p.189
 Since the last copy of the “Ses”s collection in the National Archive in Kyrenia is dated 21 January 1938, the last issue of “Ses” newspaper should be dated 14 or 21 June 1938
 Cited by Şükrü S. Gürel, ibid, p.190
 CO 67/300/4, Governor’s Dispatch, 3 February 1939 (secret) Enclosure No.1, cited by Şükrü S.Gürel, ibid, p.182
 A.C.Gazioglu, The Turks in the Circle of Enosis, Nicosia 1996, pp.312-313
 Cited by Ahmet An, Political History of Turkish Cypriots (1930-1960), Nicosia 2006, pp.91-95
 ibid, p.90
In order to draw useful lessons for the future, we have to have a good knowledge of our history and a multi-perspective approach to our past without any prejudice. For this purpose, it is necessary to have well-educated historians; rich archives open for all; multi-communal platforms, where everything can be discussed freely; and a democratic environment free from all taboos. Without all these, it would be very difficult to bring historical realities to light. Even then, it cannot be said that the Cypriot communities are likely to be at ease discussing these subjects.
A new “History of Cyprus” was published in November 1970 by the new President of the Cyprus Turkish History Association, Vehbi Zeki. This 180 paged book was approved by the Cyprus Turkish Directorate for Education on 1st February 1971 as the “textbook” for the lessons of History of Cyprus at the secondary schools’ first, second and third classes. More than 10 reprints of this textbook were made and it is still in use.
Additional information about the book of reference, mentioned above: