By George Psyllides
CYPRIOTS should pay their dues to those who gave their lives for freedom, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday, as Cyprus marked the 59th anniversary of the EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) uprising which sought to get rid of British rule and unite the island with Greece.
Church services and other events were held across the island to celebrate the anniversary of the 1955 to 1959 armed struggle.
“It is a day of honour for the heroes and the fighters of the freedom movement,” Anastasiades said. “A day of honour for Ethnarch Makarios (the island’s archbishop at the time and first president) and General (Georgios Grivas) Dhigenis, who led the struggle, and a day of reflection for us.”
Speaking after the service at the church of Ayios Ioannis in Nicosia, Anastasiades said Cypriots must unite and “give what they owe to those who gave their lives so we can live free.”
Anastasiades later attended a memorial service at the Imprisoned Graves, led by Archbishop Chrysostomos.
The Imprisoned Graves is a small cemetery, inside the Central Prison compound, where 13 EOKA fighters are buried.
Nine were hanged by the British, three were killed in action, and one died from battle wounds in hospital.
“The united few are victorious, this is the message the 1955 to 1959 fighters are sending,” Chrysostomos said.
In a speech in Larnaca, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said the best memorial for the EOKA heroes would be the liberation and reunification of the island.
“We are ready for a viable solution that will liberate and truly reunify the country, our people, the institutions, and the economy,” Kouyialis said. “We will exhaust all possibilities at the negotiating table, despite the difficulties, so that the entire people of Cyprus would be able to live freely in their country and build a common peaceful future together.”
EOKA’s aim to rid Cyprus of British rule was met when on August 16, 1960 Cyprus achieved independence from the United Kingdom.
However, its primary aim of Enosis, union with Greece, was denied, sowing the seeds of instability in the new republic.
A successor organisation, EOKA B, undermined the new state, and with the support of the right-wing military junta in Greece, carried out attacks on government targets, left-wingers and Turkish Cypriots.
Its actions eventually led to the July 15, 1974 coup and the Turkish invasion five days later, which split the island.