TRNC President Ersin Tatar participated in the inauguration of Birkan Uzun Remembrance Forest where about 2,000 saplings were planted and was held under the auspices of the Presidency in the Kalkanlı region.
Hundreds of school children, family members and friends of Mr Uzun as well as local officials took part in the event where about 2,000 saplings were planted, provided by the Forestry Department.
President Tatar paid tribute to Mr Uzun, aged 28, who died following a tragic skiing accident in Oregon, USA, on January 1, 2022. The President described Mr Uzun as a Turkish Cypriot of exceptional academic and professional success, as well as his mountaineering successes after he successfully climbed five summits across different continents and raised the TRNC flag, under the ‘7 Summits, 7 Continents’ project. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mr Uzun had last climbed Antarctica Massif on December 16, 2021, and was planning to climb Mount Everest this year.
President Tatar, in reference to the video clip recorded by Mr Uzun during his summit climb in Antarctica, said: “The words of Birkan, where he underlined that he was explaining to people the story of the TRNC and the injustices faced by Turkish Cypriots; that anything can be achieved when a person puts their minds and hearts to it; that the world will understand, sooner or later, that Turkish Cypriots exist. . .has become ingrained in a very special place in our hearts.”
“Birkan Uzun will forever live in the most exceptional place in our hearts”
President Tatar stated that Birkan Uzun, under his “7 Continents, 7 Summits project”, believed in the struggle of the Turkish Cypriot people at a young age and gave great services to his country and people with his heart, adding that “Birkan is a very valuable son of the Turkish Cypriot people, his name will be kept alive. The pain emanating from this great loss will continue to exist for the rest of our lives,” he said.
“The legacy left by Birkan is one that provides hope for our youth,” the President stated. “He went to the US from Güzelyurt and became a shining example of the successes that can be achieved despite the unjust isolation on the Turkish Cypriot people, irrespective of whether it be in the academic, professional or sports field.”
The President referred to the great fire in the Kalkanlı region two years ago and said the tree planting activity was also very important in teaching the youth the importance of our forests. “I hope that the tree planting activities will contribute to the regeneration of our forest,” he said.
President Tatar stated that a part of the allocated area was named after Birkan Uzun following the application of his father, Cengiz Topel Uzun, and that forestation activities were started.
“It is important to keep such precious names alive…”
Stating that the forest will grow green after many years with the planting of a large number of saplings in the region, President Tatar noted that this is “important for protecting the greenery, protecting the environment and keeping the name of Birkan Uzun alive”, and thanked the non-governmental organisations and students who participated in the tree planting event.
President Tatar said that “painful events can also occur in life, it is necessary to keep such valuable names which have played a very important role in the struggle of the Turkish Cypriot people alive. Birkan Uzun is one of those names”.
Cengiz Topel Uzun: “Our son has become an iconic figure and embraced by the public; we are proud, we will always feel pain”
Cengiz Topel Uzun also thanked President Ersin Tatar, who accepted his application for the allocation of forest land in memory of his son, Birkan Uzun, adding that “President Tatar has embraced Birkan as his own child”.
Cengiz Topel Uzun said: “Trees turn into forests and forests turn into homes; Our son has been embraced by our society. We are proud of this. We will always feel the pain of this devastating loss.”
Uzun stated that it is “important for young people to grow up knowing, understanding and embracing the legacy left by Birkan”, and noted that the forest will play a vital role in preserving his name for future generations.
Expressing his gratitude to everyone who contributed to the event, Cengiz Topel Uzun emphasised the “importance of Birkan Uzun’s message when he held the TRNC flag on the summit in Antarctica”, saying, “Birkan has become a beacon of pride, hope, and a role model. His academic, professional and mountaineering successes have shown people that despite the isolation of TRNC, summits, and successes can be reached in all walks of life.”
About 2,000 Pine, Cypress, Acacia and Oleander saplings were planted
In addition to President Ersin Tatar, Güzelyurt District Officer Savaş Orakçıoğlu, Mayor of Güzelyurt Mahmut Özçınar, Birkan Uzun’s family and some officials attended the sapling planting event.
The Forestry Department, Cyprus Foundations (Evkaf) Administration ‘Goodness Volunteers’, Lefke Aid and People’s Association and students from some schools contributed to the planting of saplings.