Sunday, July 3, 2016

Friendship of relatives of `missing persons`…

Friendship of relatives of `missing persons`…

Sevgul Uludag

Tel: 99 966518

On the 11th of June 2016 Saturday early morning we meet at the Agios Dometios checkpoint with relatives of `missing persons`, Sevilay Berk with her husband Mustafa to go to Limassol. We pick up the daughter of a dear friend, Androula Kaminara at the checkpoint… Hara, the daughter of Androula Kaminara is a photo-journalist and when she had called me saying she wanted to do some work on `missing persons`, I had suggested to take her to the funeral of a `missing person`… So she is coming with us as well…
We are going to the funeral of Kyriakou Karasavva who had been killed in the yard of her house together with three other elderly persons and all four had been buried in that yard in Trikomo… They would demolish her house over this mass grave so no one would see where the bodies of three women and one man had been buried.
We go to the Agios Nikolaos Church in Limassol and meet the Karasavva family…
Christina Pavlou Solomi Patsia from Komikebir whose brother and father are `missing` from Galatia also comes to meet us…
Actually such funerals of `missing persons` are quite heavy for Christina since she keeps on thinking of her father and brother during the whole ceremony, her old mother who had been waiting for them all these years, all our efforts at finding their remains… Christina has been a `role model` of someone who could overcome her own pain in order to help others… She works constantly, voluntarily, in order to find any information concerning both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot `missing persons`…
This is a sad funeral – as the small coffin is taken out of the military car to be taken to inside the church, Pepa, the daughter of Kyriakou Karasavva starts crying… This is `the end` and Pepa feels it in her soul and so do we… Maybe not as much as her but still we feel how much pain she is in…
Six years ago, Pepa had called me and we had spoken… Later I would meet her husband Tasos Georgiou in the house of Sevilay Berk… Sevilay's parents too had been `missing` from Trikomo from 1964 and they were very good friends with Tasos Georgiou and his family… Tasos would tell me about the burial site of the four elderly `missing persons`, among them his mother-in-law Kyriakou Karasavva. I would call one of my readers in Trikomo and I would go with him to check out the place and later on, exactly six years ago we had shown this possible burial site to the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee together with Tasos Georgiou. After 3 years from showing this place, the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee would start to dig in this possible burial site in Trikomo and they would in fact find the remains of the four `missing persons` buried there: Three women and a man, among them Kyriakou Karasavva… Three more years would need to pass for the DNA identification and that is how we will come to the funeral on the 11th of June 2016…
The granddaughter of Kyriakou Karasavva, Katerina Georgiou would make the funeral speech:
"Kyriaki Karasavva, born to Stasos and Efrosyni, for all of us our grandmother, "Hatzina" or Kakoulou of Sitarenos.
She was born in 1900 to worker-farmer parents.
She married Anastasis Karasavvas and they had 7 children who grew up with great sacrifices and suffering. Four of their children had to emigrate due to difficult times, in order to find a better future, very far away, to Rhodesia.
Woman, wife, mother, grandmother, Wonderful, we remember her after 42 years, greeting us with love and a sweet kiss, hugging us and welcoming us to her home.
Housewife, mother, took the responsibility to raise the 7 children, since grandfather Anastasis had to be absent for days in the various villages due to his profession, as a building contractor.
A good neighbour and faithful to church, she was appreciated by the parish and the Trikomo people in general.
First among the first, with the ringing of the bells, she was present, on Sundays and other holy days, at her favourite church of Panayia, and was always last to leave.
I specifically remember even though I was very young then, that she always stopped all the funeral processions that were passing from her front door, to throw water, according to the village custom and was stressing that she wanted a "big" funeral and we were joking her saying:
Grandmother, all these people that you go to their funerals, be sure that they will not come, since they are already dead.
Ironically, she was killed in the summer of 1974, on the first day that the Turkish invaders stepped into the village. For 42 whole years, we did not have the opportunity to bury her and we did not even know where she was buried.
It was on the 17th August when the Turkish troops were stepping into Trikomo. One military vehicle stopped in front of my grandmother's house and a fully armed soldier entered the house violently and with an automatic gun killed 4 of the 7 persons who were gathered – for company – in my grandfather's house. One person was injured and the 4 dead are:
Grandmother Kyriaki Anastasi Karasavva
Agamemnon Soteriou
Maria Agamemnonos
Meletta Dimitri Ntirri.
When they were leaving they tried to demolish the house by bombing but because it was made of mud bricks, they only created small ruins.
They four dead were buried by Turkish soldiers in 2 graves in the garden of my grandmother's house, without anyone knowing the exact place of burial. Their bones were found in the end of 2013.
On the same day another 3 elderly people lost their life:
Georgios Tziortzis
Evripides Hatzivarnava
Panayiotis Yianna
On 3rd September 1974 they shot the village priest Papaioakim Filippou at the entrance of his house.
But the price the Trikomo community paid does not stop here.
15 young reservists and conscripts 18-30 years old were reported missing and most parents are still waiting for their bones to be found and buried.
My grandfather survived after his unfair loss and after many troubles with his health, he died in Limassol in 1980, with the big "marazi" that he was the reason that grandmother was killed so unfairly, since their grandfather's health kept them in their parent's house.
Grandfather, the promise that we gave you is fulfilled today.
The funeral that she always wanted is taking place today, and all those, that grandmother was escorting to their last home, are up there with her.
Goodbye grandmother, farewell, and may God rest your soul.
Your memory will be eternal my Hatzinou.
Allow me to mention that it was the family's decision that the burial ceremony to be kept simple without formalities and other procedures.
Also on behalf of the family, I would like to thank the Representative of the State, Mr. Victoras Papadopoulos, assistant Government Spokesman, for his presence here. All those that offered their services in finding and identifying the bones, the National Guard for transporting the bones. I would especially like to thank Mr. Xenofon Kallis and Mrs Sevgul Uludag, who is amongst us today, who along with other collaborators, managed to find the exact locations of our people.
We also thank all of you who with your presence, are honouring grandmother Kakoullou Karasavva, are honouring our family.
I thank you."
During the funeral, Sevilay and Pepa would stand together, the two relatives of `missing`, sharing the pain and tragedy… Sevilay had gone through this when remains of her parents were found in a well in Trikomo that we had shown to the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee with the help of a Turkish Cypriot reader and a Greek Cypriot relative of a `missing person`. After the funeral many Greek Cypriots would come and hug Sevilay and tell her stories of her parents, how they knew them, their memories…
After the funeral we go to the family house in Limassol and there too, this would continue…
`I knew your father and mother` they would come and tell Sevilay…
Hara, our photo-journalist would be amazed with the whole picture…
`We never saw this before` she would tell me… She would be so touched seeing the friendship among the families of Sevilay Berk and Pepa, the daughter of Kyriakou Karasavva…
Perhaps this is the best picture that we can show to youth, the friendship of those who have suffered most in this country…


Photo: Pepa and Sevilay, symbol of friendship…

(*) Article published in POLITIS newspaper on the 3rd of July 2016, Sunday.

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