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Staten Island Young Cypriots United after Elected Politician Betrayed their Trust!

By on May 1, 2016

by Philip Phytides

Staten Island may be a small community, but in the recent years we have come to realize just how many Cypriots live on the island. As a result, Staten Island Cypriots have shown the desire to come together to form a united club and demonstrate the traditions and strength of those who are immigrants and descendants of the beautiful island of Cyprus. Unfortunately, in our society, there are politicians who allow the power and temptation of monetary reward to overtake the morality of helping those in need.

There has been such an example on Staten Island with one politician in particular. For a large sum of money, this person has made it his mission to “fight for people who need help to have their voices heard” as he has been quoted as saying. Unfortunately, the “poor people” he is referring to are not the Cypriots who were thrown out of their homes in the Northern part of Cyprus. He is giving a voice and supporting the Turkish invaders of the Northern part of Cyprus. How about those “poor people” that had their homes destroyed, husbands lost, and churches burned to the ground? There is no mention that these people are the Greek Cypriots, NOT the Turkish forces that took what was not theirs. He also took the side of the Azeri Turkish to condemn the freedom of Armenian Nagorno Karabakh from Azerbaijan Turkish persecution. He continues to support the Turkish side’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. How can Greeks or Cypriots trust or support a man who would defend and support the Turkish invasions?

From left, Petros Gregoriou (Treasurer), Penny Phytides (Secretary), Philip Phytides (President), Joanne Kouros (Co-treasurer), Andrew Panayiotou (Vice President)

From left, Petros Gregoriou (Treasurer), Penny Phytides (Secretary), Philip Phytides (President), Joanne Kouros (Co-treasurer), Andrew Panayiotou (Vice President)

It is stories like this one that further make Cypriots of the United States, and specifically the Cypriots of Staten Island, want to unite and make others aware of these types of injustices. We cannot continue to support any politician that overlooks the struggles of our homeland. If the Cypriots of Staten Island unite, they can make a difference and show politicians that support the Turkish invasion of Cyprus that we will not stand for it and not support them in any way, monetarily or otherwise. Many times, these stories are not told and are not made public for everyone to hear. How many Cypriots on Staten Island know what this politician or other politicians are doing in favor of the Turkish forces? How many Cypriots know what their campaign contributions are used for and what that candidate actually stands for?

More politicians are needed in Congress that are willing to stand up for Cyprus and do something about the island being divided for so long. Just because Cyprus is a small island as compared to other European countries, it does not mean there are not enough of us here in the United States that have never forgotten what happened in 1974 and want it to be known to everyone. It is important to teach our children about the invasion of our beautiful island on July 20, 1974. As generations grow, sometimes traditions and the history of your roots gets faded or even lost. When a Cypriot Club is formed and becomes part of a greater and respected group such as the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations, it gives them the resources for their voices to be heard.

As a Staten Island Chapter, our goal is to promote the traditions, culture, and language as well as many other aspects of the Cypriot heritage. It gives our children and grandchildren a place to meet and socialize with others from their island. In this way, it promotes the longevity of Cypriot culture and provides enthusiasm both to the young and old generations. The United States is such a “melting pot” that sometimes it becomes very difficult to associate and find others from your homeland. Once a chapter is established, it gives a common place for everyone to meet and socialize and unite for a common cause. An intervention on the part of United States’ politicians is long overdue to help the cause of the unjust overtaking of the Northern part of Cyprus by Turkish troops.

The more chapters we can form and the stronger our membership becomes, the more our “voices” will be heard. We cannot allow this to continue. Our children and grandchildren should be able to visit the entire island of Cyprus and see its beauty and feel safe and free to travel to “other” side, as it is referred to by many. Staten Island members are both confident and enthusiastic about the future success of a Staten Island Chapter of Cypriots and feel that this club is long overdue. One thing that all Cypriots have is pride for their homeland and the desire to show others the beauty of our traditions and culture as well as to preserve it amongst our present and future generations. The hope of this chapter is to bring out more Cypriots from the island that we have not even met yet. It is our hope to unite and make this a vibrant and successful club with as many members as possible. We would like to become a diverse group from every part of Cyprus, especially those who became refugees and lost their homes in the invasion. It is important for the youth to hear their stories and understand the impact that the invasion had on families, perhaps being the reason that they migrated to the United States for a better life.

Eventually, the Staten Island Chapter hopes to become strong enough to be able to raise enough funds to be able to send Cypriot youth who desire to see the homeland and all its beauty but may not be able to afford such a luxury. We would also like to form a Cypriot dance group that can learn traditional dances and perform them not only for the club and any events we may have, but branch out to others to show them the beauty of the dance and its costumes. Another goal is to have a large group of Staten Island Cypriots represent Cyprus in the Greek Independence Day Parade that takes place in New York City every year.

Over the years, more and more people are becoming aware of where and what Cyprus is and it is our desire to continue this by bringing more and more awareness to the island of Cyprus. With the initiation of Stacey Anastos, who envisioned the formation of this group for many years, Philip Phytides (President) and Andrew Panayiotou (Vice President), with the help of the Board Members consisting of Penny Phytides, Petros Gregoriou and Joanne Kouros, will take on the challenging task and leadership to make this group a strong and valuable asset to the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations. Any questions can be directed to Philip at pphytides@hotmail.com

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