Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

A tragic example of the media’s tainted role

Markos Drakos statue near Paphos Gate.

By Loucas Charalambous

LAST SUNDAY I wrote about the miserable behaviour of the news media, pointing out they had never played their role properly. On the contrary, instead of objectively informing the public they systematically misinform and mislead it.

I gave as an example a five-minute contribution on Sigma TV news by a self-styled political analyst which ended with the conclusion that the Russian fighter jet had been downed by Turkey with the approval of Moscow. Today I will give another striking example of this sick media attitude, one that relates to a historical event that literally shaped our country’s dramatic course.

On December 4, in its daily feature ‘Like today’ which carries stories from the past, Phileleftheros published a copy of its front page of December 4, 1963. This covered the bombing of the statue of EOKA hero Markos Drakos at Nicosia’s Paphos Gate the previous day, with the banner headline “Bomb at the statue of Markos Drakos”. The strap-line above the headline said: “Cowardly and barbaric action condemned by everyone.” Below it said: “We are all prepared for every sacrifice.”

Below the copy of the page, the paper wrote the following as an explanation for today’s readers: “Uproar was caused by the bomb explosion at the statue of Markos Drakos in Nicosia which Phileleftheros described as a cowardly and barbaric act condemned by all. The paper also carried a statement by the Interior Minister Polykarpos Yiorkadjis, calling on the people to stay calm and composed towards this uncivilised act. The Union of Fighters said in a statement that ‘the bomb which contaminated the statue of the fighter Marcos Drakos constitutes a barbarous provocation by the Turkish minority.’ These generalisations stirred, even more, the anger and hostility between the two communities.”

That the bomb had not been placed by the “Turkish minority” but by the Greek Cypriot Akritas organisation, on the instructions of Yiorkadjis is now an indisputable fact. It has been confirmed by an officer in the Cyprus army, Chrysafis Chrysafis who told two journalists that he had been present when Yiorkadjis was giving the orders for the bombing.

This, of course, was known to the journalists of Phileleftheros who wrote the explanatory note. After all, their paper had published in March 2009 the remark about the explosion by Makarios’ right hand man Andreas Azinas who also said this “was the work of Yiorkadjis”. This is what makes the paper’s current commentary on the event so objectionable.

Despite knowing the truth, it consciously hides it. It does not dare to write, even 52 years later, the most important aspect of the story – that the bomb had not been placed by the Turkish Cypriots but by Akritas, the “invisible” leader of which was Archbishop Makarios, as revealed by the organisation’s “chief of staff” Christodoulos Christodoulou and his assistant Nicos Koshis. Even the lies of the Union of Fighters, blaming the Turkish Cypriots, the paper describes as “generalisations”.

Apart from this pitiful level of journalism, it should also be noted that the objective of this act was to provoke armed conflict between the two communities and it started 18 days later. Even on its own, this abominable act showed the scale of criminal irresponsibility with which the then Greek Cypriot leadership threw Cyprus into the hell of a bloody armed confrontation between the two communities that cost the lives of thousands of people and the devastating consequences of which we are still living through today, 52 years later.

The ineluctable conclusion is that with the political dwarves that governed us and with the news media assisting them through misinformation and the conscious distortion of events, it was unfortunately impossible not to end up where we are.

And Nicolas Papadopoulos would do well to keep quiet now instead of going on about the danger of the dissolution of the Cyprus Republic. The Cyprus Republic (all of it, not half) was dissolved by the hideous actions, such as the bomb at the Markos Drakos statue, and the brainless political acrobatics of our then leadership which included his father – the deputy chief of Akritas, Tassos Papadopoulos.

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