Decision to bar world’s top Turkish student from South Cyprus for awards ceremony branded “racist”

Greek Cypriot authorities were slammed for preventing a bright young student from collecting her exam certificate.

When Berilsu Meral, 15, a high school student at Bülent Ecevit Anadolu Lisesi, heard she had scored the highest mark in the world in her IGCSE Turkish exam, she was delighted. But her joy turned to frustration when the Greek Cypriot authorities prevented her from crossing into South Cyprus to attend an awards ceremony in Larnaca and collect her certificate.

The issue came to light when Meral went to the Metehan Crossing with her teachers on 12 Dec., but was refused entry because she was born in Ankara. The teenager left the checkpoint in tears when it was clear she was banned from crossing over due to her place of birth.

Talking to the DHA news agency, Berilsu’s father Mustafa Meral said: “What will this racist approach bring to the Greek Cypriots? Under what nationalism is it ok to prevent a 15-year-old child from receiving her award, to make her cry at the border crossing? What [dangerous act] could Berilsu have done to the Greek Cypriots had she have crossed into the South?”

The decision was also condemned by TRNC FM Kudret Özersay, who wrote to the United Nations about the incident. He said: “This approach, which first dashes a child’s hopes and then enthusiasm, is at best a shame in this century and [also] a violation of human rights; it is far removed from a [decent] human being. I condemn this shameful [political] action against a young child.”