AHMP Letter to Rand McNally, October 21, 1995


Henry Doyle
Rand McNally
Box 7600
Chicago, IL 60680-9913

Dear Mr. Doyle:

We are in receipt of your boiler-plate response to our letter regarding your misrepresentation of Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus as "Northern Cyprus" in your maps. Although your response is greatly appreciated, our organization must take issue with Rand McNally's less than compelling rationale for its decision.

Your World War II analogy is not only disingenuous but wholly incongruous to the tragic circumstances surrounding Turkey's 1974 invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus. You may indeed have depicted "the lands occupied by the Axis powers while the United States and its allies were fighting to defeat these powers" but you depicted them as lands occupied by the Axis powers. Were you to genuinely and fairly apply this principle to the issue at hand, you would not depict the occupied zone as "Northern Cyprus" but rather as "Turkish-occupied Cyprus". In this manner, your concerns over "accurately show[ing] the borders [a] student should understand" _ and especially your concerns over "presenting an accurate picture of the real political situation" _ would be far better satisfied than with your "Northern Cyprus" nomenclature. Furthermore, your purported goal of effectively conveying that "[t]here is clearly a government in place in the area", and that the occupying government is indeed a reality, would also clearly be met with the "Turkish-occupied Cyprus" designation.

Your statement that "[t]here is clearly a government in place in the area despite personal positions on its legitimacy" is not only a wholly insensitive one to the thousands of civilian victims killed or ethnically cleansed from their ancient ancestral lands due to Turkey's savage invasion, an invasion rife with horrifying atrocities, but embarrassing to Rand McNally as well. The protests you have received are not founded upon "personal positions on [the TRNC's] legitimacy", but rather, on international law and the international community's unanimous refusal to recognize this illegal state.

Although international recognition and legality under international law may not be "the determining factor[s]" as to whether to include a de facto government in a political map of the world, one would be hard-pressed in finding more relevant and important criteria.

In defense of your position you further state that "[f]or years our maps of South Africa showed the government-established homelands, which were unrecognized by the rest of the world." That this second example you offer in support of your decision is so completely incongruous to the question of whether to depict Turkish-occupied Cyprus as an independent nation-state evinces the indefensibility of your position. The South African enclaves were internal, independent governments, dubbed "homelands", voluntarily created by the South African Government. They did not unilaterally secede from South Africa through military force or other means. Just as with sovereign Native American nations/reservations depicted in your U.S. maps, and unlike Turkish-occupied Cyprus, these homelands had legitimate political legal status, including the right of self-rule, within the host country which created them regardless of whether or not the international community formally recognized them as independent nation-states.

In fact, a host of far more analogous situations reveal your application of a double-standard with regard to Cyprus. To name a few:

In none of the above examples which comprise but a fraction of a far longer list have Rand McNally maps depicted these long-standing de facto governments as separate from their recognized host nations. This even though, unlike with Turkish-occupied Cyprus, some of these have indeed been given international recognition by other governments and have been in existence for far longer periods than the TRNC (which, as you are aware, unilaterally declared its existence in 1983).

To summarize, your legitimate concerns regarding the depiction of the geographic reality of a de facto government in northern Cyprus do not require you to label this entity "Northern Cyprus". The descriptive name "Turkish-occupied Cyprus" would not only more than amply represent the geographic reality but, unlike your "Northern Cyprus" designation, would better portray the political reality as well. You have yet to offer a legitimate rationale for Rand McNally's decision to defy not only the unanimous consensus of the United Nations, but the unanimous consensus of the individual positions of all governments Muslim and non-Muslim alike (excepting Turkey of course), of all reputable international legal scholars, of all judiciary bodies which have ruled or commented on the subject,[*] of all officially recognized Non Governmental Organizations. Given the overwhelming consensus against your decision, it is thus your burden to present an extremely compelling justification for your renegade position or risk your company's credibility and place its intentions in question.

Very truly yours,

Phillip Spyropoulos, Esq.

P.S. As I am a regularly contributing writer, this letter will be submitted for publishing to the GreekAmerican, the Hellenic News of America, Odyssey Magazine, the Orthodox Observer and the Hellenic Times, periodicals which reach tens of thousands of educated and affluent Greek-Americans as well as other interested subscribers. I would like to invite your company to submit a letter in response, to be published with the present letter, providing Rand McNally with an opportunity to present a more compelling rationale than the wholly unconvincing one outlined in your October letter.

[*] E.g. Autocephalous Church v. Goldberg & Feldman Arts, (decided in 1990 by the Federal Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit), reaffirming unrecognized status of the TRNC.

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