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Tensions rise during T/C cemetery visit (update 2)

Turkish soldiers take up positions during the invasion

Tempers flared at the village of Santalaris in Turkish occupied Famagusta during a visit by Greek and Turkish Cypriot political party delegations, at a cemetery where civilians murdered in 1974 were buried.

The Cyprus News Agency said a small group of people protested during a visit by an AKEL delegation, headed by party leader Andros Kyprianou, and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot party United Cyprus Izzet Izcan.

The parties placed flowers at the graves of 126 civilians murdered by Greek Cypriot members of the EOKA B paramilitary organisation in August 1974.

The protesters shouted abuse in Turkish and asked Izcan how he could visit the place in the company of Greek Cypriots when he never attended any other events in the village.

Izcan said they were doing this for peace and because they wanted a settlement.

The protesters responded “we do not want peace with these people.”

Izcan said it was their choice, but the majority of Greek and Turkish Cypriots wanted peace.

Earlier, the two delegations had visited the Constantinou and Elenis cemetery in Nicosia where they paid their respects to Greek Cypriots killed during the coup and the invasion.

Izcan said Greek Cypriot civilians were also killed.

“We condemn those who perpetrated these mass murders, Greek and Turkish Cypriots,” he said.

The Turkish Cypriot politician said they were working for peace on the island.

He said he expected respect for all the people who lost their life, stressing that they would not allow such crimes from happening again.

Izcan said he shared the pain of the families but such approaches were wrong.

Kyprianou later said it was a group of around 10 people “blinded by hatred and fanaticism — the same kind that exists in the in the Greek Cypriot community.”

The group moved against the Turkish Cypriots that accompanied the AKEL delegation but were held back by Turkish Cypriot officers, Kyprianou said.

In a written statement issued later, the party said it had been warned that its visit would prompt reactions, but it insisted in making the trip.

“We believe that this step should have been taken at some point. We thought we owed it to history to be the ones to do it.”

The party said it did not believe that the people involved in the incident represented the majority of the Turkish Cypriot community.

“The same way like-minded individuals do not represent the Greek Cypriot community. Let us not let anything stop peace in Cyprus,” the party said.

The victims were from the villages of Santalaris, Maratha, and Aloda, inhabited entirely by Turkish Cypriots, which were located next to each other in the Famagusta district.

Reports said the shooters came from the neighbouring village of Peristeronopigi.

The men of the three villages had been rounded up and sent to Limassol on July 20, the day Turkey invaded the island.



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