By Heidi Trautmann……
The very sad Story of the International Cemetery in Girne, opposite the Pia Bella Hotel.
My husband died in 2018 and his grave is in the International Cemetery. This is to explain why I am taking a special interest in this cemetery which has no lobby at all I had to find out. Since that time, I have been in continuous contact with the local authorities to do something about the appalling conditions the cemetery was and still is in. I delivered long reports with photo documentation which led to some reactions.
Broken crosses all over the place were repaired and once a year the grass was cut. But that was all.
I was also complaining that the cemetery had become a party place for people from the casinos for example and other night guests throwing bottles on the graves, breaking benches, and leaving all their dirt where they partied, in the winter months fire was lit among the graves. From all sides passers-by throw their waste – bottles – food cases – hundreds of casino cards – cigarette buts – paper and plastic and whatnot over the walls and where they sit and stand. Wild dogs came and destroyed fresh graves for the smell that came from it.
The water tank is about to collapse, so we closed the incoming water tap so as not to waste water overnight should it break. We will have to bring our water from home.
Due to careless cutting of the tree branches during maintenance, my husband’s sculpture was damaged and had to be repaired.
Visitors to the cemetery came to talk to me and asked why the place is in such a sad condition. There is a man who had lost his wife a year ago and he and I who regularly visit the graves and felt something needed to be done about it.
Now we have decided to take up garden tools and start cleaning the cemetery ourselves, but as elderly people, we do not have the energy anymore so we do what we can.
In the Bronze Ages people were taking care of their dead in a better way and there was more respect. We must not forget that cemeteries are a place of culture; in this place, people of all nationalities are buried who have lived here and perhaps contributed in some way to the country’s culture, so I think that we all owe them something.
I think that the photos speak for themselves and you can see more on my Facebook page.
Summary by Chris Elliott
Reading Heidi’s letter about the International Cemetery in Girne troubled me greatly and we had a long telephone conversation about it and I said I had a water tank in my garden I was going to have removed and would donate this to the cemetery if the managers wished to have it.
On Saturday 23rd of September, I visited the cemetery and I observed a small area that had been cleaned by volunteers but there may be more rubbish to clear and continue collecting on a weekly basis as people continue to litter the place with rubbish but like the adjacent old British Cemetary which whilst now closed but open for access, is in need of good cleaning of weeds and other vegetation growing around the graves but by who?
I had a look at the water tank mentioned by Heidi and found that was standing on a frame without any solid foundation so when filled with water it was digging into the ground and had became unstable plus the frame was very rusty and perhaps weak.
Cemeteries can be a source of controversy and some have been in the news in the UK for lack of attention so if the dead and their relatives are to be respected it takes responsible people and money to ensure good maintenance and I was surprised when I visited Green Hill cemetery where my late partner was buried just over a year ago only to find low walls had been built and the ground around the graves had been covered with crushed stone which will help reduce weed growth and looks very peaceful.
In publishing Heidi Trautman’s letter of complaint and with my own observations about the cemetery I pray that those who can deal with the problems of lack of control and inadequate maintenance will now be seen to be taking the necessary action without delay and in the future to maintain our cemeteries in good order.