Cyprus Mail

Commandos who took part in coup given funeral

Twelve National Guard commandos, killed in action during the assault on the Presidential Palace on July 15, 1974, whose bones were found in a mass grave at the Constantinou and Eleni cemetery and identified via DNA testing, were buried on Saturday.
In his eulogy at the God’s Wisdom church in Strovolos, Interior minister Sokratis Hasikos said the soldiers fell victim to circumstances created by others, specifically referring to the Greek junta-inspired coup that overthrew Archbishop Makarios’ government.
“They bear none of the responsibility,” Hasikos said. “They had the misfortune of serving their military service at the wrong time.”
Hasikos argued that the soldiers were called into armed service by the state, which also asked of them to obey their seniors’ orders unquestioningly.
“They fell while following orders during the coup,” he said.
He said the funeral was the least the state could do to undo the injustice the soldiers have suffered, by being equated to those who organised and carried out the treasonous coup.
“United and unwavering, we will continue to protect and expand our democracy, its institutions, its shield and sword,” Hasikos said. “United and unwavering, we will continue the fight to free our enslaved land. So that the souls of all those who sacrificed themselves for the country may finally rest.”
But the government’s decision to restore the honour of the fallen soldiers did not go unopposed.
AKEL deputy Aristos Damianou said the Anastasiades’ government decision to hold a funeral with state and military honours for the commandos who sided with the Greek junta against democracy in 1974 under the pretext of following orders is “provocative and condemnable.”
“At a time when Turkish provocations are escalating and unity should be everyone’s goal, and especially the President’s, the government chooses to vindicate coupists,” he said.
“We strongly condemn the effort to equate democratic resistance with illegality,” he added. “Forging historical truth is an insult to the memory of all who fought and sacrificed themselves for Freedom and Democracy.”
The Pancyprian Association of Democratic Resistance Fighters was equally indignant.
“Invoking orders from superior officers does not absolve anyone, nor does it allow laurels for those who fought democracy,” it said in a statement.
The fighters said Hasikos’ eulogy is an “unbearable insult” and an effort to forge our country’s modern history.
“It equates those who resisted fascism with those who turned their guns at democracy,” they argued.
“On July 15, 1974, the highest treason in our modern history was carried out by some, who have a name and a surname,” the association said.
“Unfortunately, the government and DISY, which housed the coupists, are attempting to equate the perpetrators with the victims, and erase the treasonous role played by EOKA B’.”

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