By George Koumoullis
At 5.55pm on October 21, I couldn’t believe my ears when, on a programme on Astra radio hosting (veteran pro-reunification politician) Takis Hadjidemetriou, the following message from an unknown listener was read out: “I was a member of EOKA B and I killed quite a few Turkish Cypriots in 1974. If my case were to be opened, would I be tried in north or the south state?”
Let us ignore the mentality of the listener seeking to stress how patriotic, macho, ruthless and brave he is, as opposed to the rest of us. Apparently he is possessed by narcissistic audacity or confessional passion.
Since the listener claimed he killed quite a few Turkish Cypriots in 1974, he was probably referring to the three villages in the Famagusta district – Maratha, Aloa and Sandalaris – where members of EOKA B killed 126 women and children in cold blood after raping the women and young girls repeatedly. Of course, who doesn’t know this now?
In countries that respect human rights such statements or confessions on the radio are inconceivable. However, for the sake of discussion, let us assume that in one of these countries an anonymous man with mental problems confessed in public that he had killed an ‘x’ number of people.
Within minutes, police would have launched a manhunt to arrest the murderer, while the public, the media and the political leadership would have condemned with abhorrence, the crime, the lawlessness, and the cruelty.
What happened in Cyprus after this admission of a crime?
Neither the government, nor the opposition, or the media, or any member of the public bothered to condemn or comment on the confession of someone who committed a crime in a bloodthirsty rage. Instead of a storm of demands for the murderer to be arrested and justice served, there was absolute silence on the matter, or, as Thomas Harris would say, there was the silence of the lambs.
I wonder, perhaps it is not our fault we remain mute and idle when hearing of such crimes. From childhood our brain is pumped with false knowledge, controlled information, twisted facts and deceptions. A sociologist would conclude that we are the products of our socialisation, thus our behaviour is considered natural.
Despite this, the Republic of Cyprus can be censured because it does not wish to prosecute the murderers of civilian and innocent Turkish Cypriots. If it sought to do so it could easily arrest the perpetrators, the majority of whom come from the (neighbouring) villages of Peristerona, Ayios Sergios and Monarga. There is already ample material concerning the gruesome murders in the three Turkish Cypriot villages.
Most appalling is the fact that known murderers are free to live among us and have the nerve to publically boast about their ‘achievements’.
Alas, no effort was made to arrest the perpetrators. No one went to jail. No one was arrested. No one was questioned.
Some say that 1974 was a chaotic situation and law could not be enforced. Why though haven’t there been any criminal proceedings in the past 41 years? Passage of time does not alleviate any crime. In Europe they are still hunting down World War II criminals. Why aren’t the perpetrators prosecuted now that the republic has matured and the aura of democracy has appeared?
The reluctance of all administrations to solve the monstrous crimes committed in Tohni, Maratha, Aloa and Sandalaris is tantamount to complicity in a national crime.
We rightly condemn Turkey’s war crimes that no one disputes. However, these crimes in no way justify our tolerance of the crimes against our innocent Turkish Cypriot compatriots. Everyone knows that tolerance of the crime amounts to guilt.
Some nationalist MPs insist that we didn’t do anything wrong during the invasion and that just “a few foolish lads may have killed two or three Turks.” These MPs, who cannot get rid of their blinkers, ought to know that it is unwise to speak of rope in the house of a man who has been hanged, or of blood in the home of those killed.
To achieve catharsis for all the criminal acts perpetrated by Greek and Turkish Cypriots in 1974, our leadership must apologise to the Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriot leadership must apologise to us. A Day of Reconciliation (or something similar) should be established, so that we can all honour the memory of our innocent compatriots who were murdered and demand the punishment of the guilty without exception.
After that, you can be certain that the murderers – Greek and Turkish Cypriot – will start hearing the footsteps of the Erinyes (Furies in Greek mythology who punished the perpetrators of crimes) with dread.
Footsteps that will become louder and louder with time; very loud, deafeningly loud.
George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist