The last Greek Heroes
Anastasios (Tassos) Isaac (Greek: Αναστάσιος (Τάσος) Ισαάκ) (1972 - 11 August 1996), was a Greek Cypriot refugee that participated in a civilian demonstration against the turkish occupation of Cyprus with the demand of the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops, and his return to his home. He was murdered by a mob of Grey Wolves in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus. He is considered a national hero in Cyprus and Greece.
In August 1996, in order to commemorate the 22nd year of Cyprus being a divided country, over 200 bikers from several European countries had organised a rally from Berlin (the last divided city in Europe except Nicosia) to Kyrenia. They left Berlin on the 2nd of August and were planning to arrive at their destination on the 11th where they would be joined by Cypriot bikers. Simultaneously, around 2,500 members of the right-wing organisation Grey Wolves were planning to travel to the occupied north of Cyprus from Turkey in order to confront the European and Cypriot bikers.
Due to heavy political pressure (even by the U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali) being applied to the Cypriot Motorcycle Federation to cancel the 11th August event, CMF finally succumbed. This was met with disapproval by a large portion of the bikers and other protesters, who decided to march on their own. Among them was Tassos Isaac, who together with other demonstrators, entered the UN buffer zone near Dheryneia, just south of the occupied town of Famagusta.
During the confrontaion in the UN buffer zone between the Cypriot bikers and the Turkish Grey Wolves, Isaac found himself trapped in barbed-wire without his co-protesters noticing he was left behind. Soon, a large group of Grey Wolves, realising he was helpless, run towards him and started clubbing, punching, kicking and throwing rocks at him. They continued for several minutes, unchallenged by the nearby UN peacekeepers. By the time the Cypriots managed to take him back from the mob, Isaac was dead.
Tassos Isaac's funeral was held on the 14th of August and was attended by thousands of people. Protests after the funeral led to the murder of Isaac's cousin, Solomos Solomou.
On the 22nd of November 1996, the Cypriot Police issued international arrest warrants for the murder of Tassos Isaac against Hasim Yilmaz, a Turkish settler and former member of the Turkish Secret Service, Neyfel Mustafa Ergun, a Turkish settler, serving in the illegal Turkish Cypriot police, Polat Fikret Koreli, a Turkish Cypriot from Famagusta, Mehmet Mustafa Arslan, a Turkish settler, leader of the Grey Wolves in the occupied areas and Erhan Arikli, a Turkish settler from the former Soviet Union.
When Isaac was killed, he left behind his pregnant wife. As a token of gratitude for his services to the Greek nation, the Hellenic Republic decided to be the godparent of the yet unborn baby. When the baby girl was born, she was baptised Anastasia (after her father), by the then Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Pangalos. The Greek singer Haris Alexiou has dedicated to her the song "Tragoudi tou Helidhoniou" ("Swallow's Song").
Solomos Solomou (Greek: Σολωμός Σολωμού) (1970 - 14 August 1996), was a Greek Cypriot refugee who died after being shot five times , while trying to climb the pole in order to remove a Turkish flag from its mast, in the aftermath of the funeral of his cousin Tassos Isaac, who was also killed by Grey Wolves a few days earlier.
Solomos Solomou was originally from the town of Famagusta, which, in 1974, fell under the control of the Turkish military. Just like thousands of other Cypriots, Solomos Solomou and his family became refugees and moved to the nearby town of Paralimni. Solomou therefore grew up in Paralimni.
Following the funeral of Tassos Isaac who was beaten to death by a Turkish mob in the UN buffer zone three days earlier, a group of unarmed Greek Cypriots re-entered the area where Isaac was murdered in order to demonstrate against his unlawful killing.
Among these demonstrators was Solomou who was a second cousin of Isaac.. At around 2:20 pm, Solomou distanced himself from the rest of the demonstrators and walked towards a Turkish military post in Dheryneia. With a cigarette in his mouth, Solomou climbed the flag pole with the intention of removing the Turkish flag but was shot by Turkish snipers three times; in the mouth, in the neck and in the stomach. The whole scene was taped by bystanding journalists and was seen on live television. Solomou's funeral was held on the 16th of August in Paralimni, among thousands of people and an official Cypriot day of mourning.
A few days after the killings of Isaac and Solomou, the then Prime Minister of Greece, Costas Simitis came to Cyprus and together with the then President of Cyprus, Glafcos Clerides visited the homes of the families of the two cousins.
On her part, the then Turkish Foreign Minister, Tansu Ciller who also visited Cyprus (the occupied north) a few days after Isaac and Solomou were killed, addressed a rally saying that Turks would "break the hands" of anyone who insulted their flag.
According to Cypriot Police, Solomou's killers were identified using photographic evidence as Kenan Akin and Erdal Haciali Emanet, members of the unrecognised TRNC administration (the first Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the second Chief of Special Forces). Warrants were issued for their arrest by the Cypriot government, along with three other people, Attila Sav, Chief of Police of TRNC, Hasan Kundakci, Lt. Gen. of the TRNC military and Mehmet Karli, Maj. Gen. of the Turkish Army..
In October 2004, Kenan Akin, wanted by Interpol for the murder of Solomou, admitted he had pulled the trigger, however he accused the former Turkish Military Commander Halil Sadrazam as the person who gave the order. Sadrazam denied the accusation.. Akin was later arrested in Istanbul not for shooting Solomou but for smuggling. He was however released from the Turkish authorities despite being wanted for murder by Interpol, prompting a question on Turkey's judicial cooperation from the Greek MP Dimitrios Papadimoulis in the European Parliament.
The photo of Solomou climbing the Turkish flagpole has often been used as symbol of protest against Turkey's presence in Cyprus. Solomou's courage has been praised by a number of Greek politicians, with several prominent Greek composers and singers dedicating their songs to him. Dionysis Savvopoulos dedicated "Odi sto Georgio Karaiskaki", Dimitris Mitropanos/Thanos Mikroutsikos dedicated "Panta gelastoi" and Stelios Rokkos dedicated "Gia to Solomo Solomou".
Two sources also cited the Turkish singer-composer Zulfu Livaneli as having sung in an on-the-spot concert in Solomou's memory (particularly his famous song "Yigidim aslanim burda yatiyor"), but the singer denied it in all civility, stating "he was yet to go to Dheryneia".
He is considered a national hero in Greece and Cyprus, where he's often referred to as "hero-martyr" (Greek: ηρωομάρτυρας).
On June 24, 2008 the European Court of Human Rights decided in favour of Solomou in the case of "Solomou and others v. Turkey", awarding 12,000 € to the family of the deceased...
The Turkish actor Atilla Olgaç confesses war crimes committed against Greek Cypriots in 1974 invasion
Turkish actor confessed that he executed in cold-blood ten Greek Cypriots during the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island.
Under the title I have killed 10 persons in Cyprus! Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (23.01.09) reports that the actor Atilla Olgac has confessed for the first time that he executed in cold-blood ten Greek Cypriot prisoners of war during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
In statements during a television program in Turkey, Olgac, who is well-known in Turkey for participating with the name of Kilic in a serial under the title Kurtlar Vadisi (The Valley of the Wolves), said the following:
According to the requirements of the scenario, we have killed people as the character of Kilic, but unfortunately in the real life I have killed ten persons for this country.
One day was remaining before I was discharged from the army. Then the Peace Operation in Cyprus happened. They sent me to Cyprus from Mersin. They gave me duties in the cleanup operation where the most merciless and the bloody part of the war was taking place.
I cannot do it, I cannot kill people, I am an artist, I said to the commander. Art ends here. The real life is here, the war. When I command you, you will kill, he said.
The fist boy I executed was a 19 year- old soldier, who was taken prisoner. When I pointed the gun at him, he spat on my face. I shot him on the forehead. He died.
In the clashes that followed I killed nine more people. After I killed them, I used to go to the headquarters and cry. The next day I was killing again. I cannot stop seeing them in my dreams.
I have undergone psychological therapy for a long time. Because of this, I still cannot eat meat. I cannot see blood. The boys I have killed, the smelly bodies come to my mind. .
Under the title He shot at the forehead prisoners with their hands tight in Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot journalist Cenk Mutluyakali refers to the same issue in his daily column in Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (23.01.09) and points out, inter alia, the following: Of course, it was a war and in this manner innocent Turkish Cypriots and innocent Greek Cypriots-children, older people and young people-were killed. Mutual pain was experienced.
Pain was experienced, deep pain, unforgettable. Therefore I do not call it Peace Operation. I cannot call it, we cannot call it. For this reason we are experiencing the peace process all together. So that smelly bodies come to no mans mind again in the future. So that no one is forced to point the gun at the forehead of a 19 year-old young person. .
The story is also reported in the Turkish daily newspapers (23.01.09) under the titles:
Milliyet (daily): I killed ten persons in the war.
Sabah(daily): It is not a scenario; he killed ten persons for real.
The prominent Turkish actor Attila Olgac, a star in the popular Valley of the Wolves series, which spawned a notorious anti-American and anti-Israeli film of the same name, admitted while being interviewed on Turkish Star television, that during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 he cold-blooded murdered 10 Greek Cypriot prisoners.
'The first one I killed was a 19-year-old soldier taken prisoner. As I extended by gun towards him, he spat at me. I shot him in the head and he died. Later, I killed nine more. And every time I killed them, I went to the barracks and cried, but the next time, I killed again. I can't get these images out of my dreams.'
The European Commission on Human Rights issued two reports on the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, one in 1976 and the other in 1983.
Here’s an excerpt from the 1976 report on mass rape:
‘Turkish troops were responsible for wholesale and repeated rapes of women of all ages from 12 to 71, sometimes to such an extent that the victims suffered haemorrhages or became mental wrecks. In some areas, enforced prostitution was practiced, all women and girls of a village been collected and put into separate rooms in empty houses where they were raped repeatedly. In certain cases, members of the same family were repeatedly raped, some of them in front of their own children. In other cases, women were brutally raped in public. Rapes were on many occasions accompanied by brutalities such as violent biting of the victims causing severe wounding, banging their heads on the floor and wringing their throats almost to the point of suffocation. In some cases, rape was followed by the stabbing or killing of the victims. Victims included pregnant and mentally retarded women.’
And here’s an extract from Turkish Cypriot journalist Sevgul Uludag’s 2006 book, Oysters with the Missing Pearls, recording events in an unnamed (presumably mixed Greek/Turkish) village during the invasion in which a priest and his daughters were held prisoners in a church. Uludag, whose humanity and honesty is exceptional among Turks, interviewed a Turkish Cypriot villager, who recalls:
‘They were making announcements each night in the village… They were calling the men to go to the church… “Those who want to rape the daughters of the priest, come now!” they were saying. My father was angry and was telling me to get inside the house and remain there… 30 of them, 40 of them would go to rape the girls inside the church… They kept the priest there to watch… Now, no one pointed a gun to their heads to do this. These were the ordinary men of the village that you see every day… Later the Red Cross or some other organisation came to the village to take the girls. The girls were brought outside on stretchers; they were covered in blood and they were taken away. I remember those announcements, people going round the houses and saying, “Who wants to come tonight?” Now if we told these stories, imagine how a 10-year-old boy who loves his chubby grandfather and finds out that he had been part of the raping of the girls in the church, would feel… How his world will be crushed if he finds out that in fact his grandfather had killed seven or eight persons.’
Turkish poster over Cyprus 1974
The Peace Operation (!!!)
(I wonder what poster would be if it was ...war operation)
Nikos Deja Vu