12° Nicosia,
27 January, 2021

There is truth behind every crime

A sober assessment of how Cypriots talk about war crimes of the past

Andreas Paraschos

Andreas Paraschos

In 1989, I went to the north for an interview with Sener Levent and the memorable Arif Hasan Tahsin.

I said back then that a precondition for solving the Cyprus problem would be the cleansing of blood that separates the two communities due to crimes committed on both sides and the need to confess so that justice could be served.

The abbreviated Turkish translation whipped up a storm in the Greek Cypriot press, which tried to “burn me at the stake” like an “arrogant person ignorant of history” who got “trapped by the Turks.”

You see, people back then had never heard of Levent. Except Ploutis Servas, the most brilliant mind in Cypriot politics of the 20th century, who told me: “Don’t be afraid. Never compromise what you know to be true. The reactions simply confirm it.”

This truth is vindicated today by overdue reactions to last year’s revelations by 84-year-old Turkish Cypriot Turgut Yenagrali or Hasan, who bragged about having turned murdering Greek Cypriots into an art form back in 1974.

Levent had written about him.

We wrote about many war crimes and nobody was moved. Now the government is calling for an investigation of the 84-year-old. This is pathetic

And as we say life will often repeat itself, Levent wrote last Thursday more or less what I had said in 1989.

“We will not be able to make peace if this blood is not washed away [...] and without holding accountable those who did it.”

In his article last week, Levent was addressing a Greek Cypriot colleague whom he had invited on his television talk show.

“We are on TV and you ask about the 84-year-old murderer. But you don’t even want to talk about the village of Maratha. Whenever I say Maratha, you turn away and try to change the subject. There are killers on both sides. Whenever I say that all of them have to face justice, you would simply hear none of it.

And then you ask me ‘will there be a solution’ – there won’t be my friend, there won’t be.”

“Neither solution. Nor peace. So what then? War again. Blood again!”

And then Levent made a reference to me.

“My dear friend Andreas Paraschos wrote about this a long time ago. In fact, he wrote the names of the killers in Maratha.”

And it’s true.

I did write about the massacre of 126 women and children (14/8/1974) in the tiny Turkish Cypriot villages of Maratha, Aloa, and Sandalaris. I wrote about the EOKA B rapists and killers. I wrote (18/8/2007) an eight-page study in daily Politis with Turkish Cypriot colleague Sevgul Uludag.

Sevgul had written about the murders of the men from Asha (21/8/74).

It was right then and there, at Ornithi, that Turgut Yenagrali might have perfected his “art” on 80 Greek Cypriots following orders by Major Mehmet Gungormus.

And apparently in Tziaos, too, along with Brigadier General Hakki Boratas who “stopped him from killing more people in Karpas.”

Boratas was present at the murders of the five Greek Cypriots in the legendary photograph known as “the last cigarette.”

We wrote about the Turkish Cypriot killers from Epicho who wiped out the Sioupouri and Liasi families in Palekythro, killing a total of 18 people.

We wrote about the 83 Turkish Cypriot captives in Tochni and their EOKA B murderers, as well as the 39 Greek Cypriot captives at the Kyrenia Botanical Gardens and their eight Turkish Cypriot killers from Templos.

We wrote about many war crimes, especially Sevgul who wrote extensively, based on witness accounts.

Nobody was moved. Not even governments, not the UN, not even the Red Cross.

Now the government will turn to the UN and the Red Cross, calling for an investigation of the 84-year-old.

This is pathetic.

Under the terms and mission of the bicommunal Committee on Missing Persons (CMP), which was set up by the UN in April 1981 with consent from both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, it was noted that "the Commission will not attempt to assign responsibility for the deaths of any missing persons or investigate what was behind those killings."

We also wrote about those who crafted the agreement. Alas!

But I wonder why the CMP, for a whole year now, has yet to ask Yenagrali to learn where are his murdered victims buried?

Personally, I know why.

But isn’t the government curious to know?


Published in Kathimerini Cyprus on 3 June 2018

Cyprus  |  war crimes  |  Paraschos  |  Uludag  |  Levent  |  Greek  |  Turkish  |  Cypriot  |  CMP  |  missing  |  EOKA  |  TMT  |  Turkey  |  Greece  |  ethnic conflict  |  UN  |  Red Cross  |  Yenagrali

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