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Massacre at Christmas

FIFTY years ago this week, agents for the Greek Orthodox Church began the implementation of the infamous Akritas Plan which amongst other things, called for the ‘removal of Turkish Cypriots from Cyprus by all forcible means’. The period of December 21st-25th has thus become known as “Bloody Christmas” and now, half a century on it is a particularly poignant time for many Turkish Cypriots, the survivors and their families against a backdrop of a wholly unrepentant nation state just a few miles away, ostensibly led by an equally unsympathetic church, who enjoy full international recognition and patronage. That no official statement in relation to this period of Cypriot history has been issued by the government thereof, and with only former foreign minister Loucas Charalambous, with the courage to pen an article that expresses his countrymen’s shame, this clearly shows Greek Cyprus to be as morally moribund as they are financially bankrupt.

Christmas came early to Küçük Kaymaklı, and a bloody one it was too: Küçük Kaymaklı lies just south of Nicosia at a location which is now be-straddled by the UN buffer zone. Our story begins around the fourth day of what might be described as the ‘Makarios Purges’ which began in this area around December 18th 1963. The first indications of the intentions of the Greeks was made known when a party of them shot up the local high school and the Ataturk memorial statue. The children, all terrified, were sent home from school. 

Former Eoka terrorist operatives and uniformed Greek Cypriot irregulars had positioned themselves on the Greek side of the main street and were shooting at the Turkish Cypriot dwellings, the inhabitants of which were trapped in their houses, sporadically under deadly fire which included bazooka rockets and bombs, for three days and nights. Şehit Hüseyin Ruso was a teacher who sacrificed on December 22, 1963 his life trying not to allow advancing Greek Cypriot EOKA hordes cross a bridge into the Küçük Kaymaklı area of the Turkish quarter of Nicosia... He lost his life but, so too did many other brave Turkish Cypriot freedom fighters defending their posts to the death whilst helping thousands of people escape to safer areas for their protection

But in what was to be not an unusual twist of fate, the village midwife, Irenau, a Greek Cypriot neighbour came one night to warn as many Turkish Cypriots as she could reach of their impending doom at the hands of the Makarios’s marouding squadrens. It is entirely due to this woman's brave humanitarian initiative, that a great many Turkish Cypriot’s were able to escape. Accordingly, but reluctantly, they abandoned their home, leaving all their possessions behind them. Their homes and properties were systematically looted and many destroyed completely. Many of the villagers fled on foot to a nearby Turkish village and for a time many people took shelter in open fields and even in a mosque. But being farmers, some of the villagers went back to Küçük Kaymaklı to retrieve livestock; this proved to be fatal for all of them were executed by the Greek Cypriots. 

Damage to Turkish Cypriot property was extensive with over 200 dwellings being destroyed and/or demolished. The overall conflict of 1963 to 1974  saw 103 villages substantially destroyed and an excess of 30,000 Turkish Cypriots were rendered homeless, comprising some twenty-five percent of the Turkish Cypriot population of Cyprus at that time. 

Today, Greek Cypriots still play the ‘injured party’ card in the international poker game of regional politics. Perhaps in 2014, a Truth and Reconciliation tribunal could be convened under the auspices of the UN so that all of the events of the period can be aired and recorded and at the end of these, the UN should pack their bags and leave, their 50 year vacation being over.

Chris Green for Turkey Star










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