Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A shining example of how we should handle our past…

A shining example of how we should handle our past…

Sevgul Uludag

Tel: 99 966518

Dr. Loizos Loizos, shows us how we should look at the past and how we should handle the past… He has been writing about Gouphes – a small, mixed village next to Lefkonico – on his social media page… I try to translate what he writes to Turkish and to publish it on my pages called "Cyprus: The Untold Stories" in Yeniduzen newspaper so that Turkish Cypriots can also know that such people exist among the Greek Cypriot community… I also want to share what he has been writing so that the Greek Cypriot community too, can know that such a wonderful person exists…
Dr. Loizos Loizos living in Athens has been active in the bi-communal contacts of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots living abroad, in Athens and in Istanbul… Together with Kivanch Diren who leads the association of the Turkish Cypriots living in Istanbul, they have had many activities expressing the desire for peace and reconciliation in Cyprus…
Dr. Loizos Loizos has lost two of his relatives from Gouphes – they had gone "missing" in 1974 and their remains were later found outside Gouphes and returned to the family for burial last year…
So when Paska came, Dr. Loizos Loizos remembered how it was in the past, in Gouphes and in other mixed villages and he wrote:
Those who have lived in mixed villages in Cyprus before 1974 have nice moments to remember from living with the Turkish Cypriots.
My father lived and grew up in the mixed village Gouphes of Famagusta district, very close to Lefkoniko. From his childhood, he was together with the children of the Turkish Cypriot community and learned Turkish fluently with the Cypriot idiom. He was working in the fields with Turkish Cypriots and he always kept his flocks together with his friend Mustafa Mulla.
At Easter, my father went to church and was following the festive program of the Christians of the village and Mustafa was minding the flocks. The opposite was happening during the Muslim Ramadan (which is the Bayram – religious festivities of Turkish Cypriots).
Mutual respect to each other's mutual religious beliefs was granted and both were enjoying the foods and souvla both at Easter and Ramazan.
The Muslim women of the village were helping their Christian co-villagers to prepare the house, to make breads and flaounes. The Christian women were offering flaounes and village breads to the Turkish Cypriots as well, who were wishing them "Happy Easter".
The schools (Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot) were following the program of the religious celebrations of their communities. I remember my joy when I was visiting my grandparents in Gouphes during the Easter holidays and I saw the children going to the Turkish Cypriot school while I was enjoying my holidays.
I was nostalgic for all this and last year I invited at the Easter meal, at my mother's house in Nicosia, the family of my Turkish Cypriot friend Mustafa Murat. He came with his wife Ismet, his son Ali, his daughter-in-law, his daughter and his grandchildren Ismet and Bairam. We had a very good time with our families and our grandchildren and we also had the blessing of the neighbourhood priest. This family celebration on Easter day for me was the best memorial I could do for my father.
The religious holidays are days of joy, reconciliation and brotherhood among people and this spirit was dominating in the mixed villages during the days of Easter and Ramadan (which is the Bayram – religious festivities of Turkish Cypriots).
Love and mutual respect between people is something that is built on by both sides. Only in this way can we acquire a culture of peace, mutual understanding, coexistence and cooperation.
We can achieve it if we try.
I hope that we can live similar moments in a reunited common country…."
Recently he did something that shows how we can treat the past, how we can retain our humanity and how we can show the other community that we understand and we share their pain… With his friend Mehmet Terzi from Gouphes and another co-villager, a Greek Cypriot friend of his, Dr. Loizos Loizos went to the Gouphes cemetery to lay flowers on the grave of Kemal Mehmet Emin who had been "missing" from 1964… One of my Greek Cypriot readers not wanting to be involved with the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee or the authorities had called me and asked me to go to Paralimni so he could show me the well where some Turkish Cypriots "missing" from 1964 had been killed and buried. Since he did not speak any English, my dear friend Christina Pavlou Solomi Patsia would help us communicate and together with Christina we would go to Paralimni to meet him and he would show us the well… We would show respect for his wish to stay anonymous… He would tell us the story of how when he had been a young child he had seen them from on top of a tree, bring some Turkish Cypriots and execute and bury them in that well… We would thank him and after he would be gone, we would call the officials of the Cyprus Missing Persons' Committee and show them the well that our reader had just shown us… CMP would start digging there and would find the remains of three Turkish Cypriots in the well… They would be identified and returned to their families for burial. I would go to the funeral of Kemal Mehmet Emin from Gouphes together with Christina Pavlou Solomi Patsia and the son of the "missing" Kemal Mehmet Emin would thank me and Christina and our reader for helping in this humanitarian task totally voluntarily…
Kemal Mehmet Emin and his father in law Ahmet Karaca had been kidnapped from their work place in NAAFI, Famagusta by some Greek Cypriot paramilitaries and they would "disappear" – only to be found in wells like the one we had shown…
Dr. Loizos Loizos writes on his social media page about his visit to the grave of Kemal Mehmet Emin… He says:
Gouphes before the invasion in 1974 was a small mixed village in the area of Lefkoniko. The peaceful and productive coexistence and cohabitation of Christians and Muslims, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots was undisturbed until 1964.
In the intercommunal clashes of December 1963 and the first three months of 1964, Gouphes remained undisturbed to continue their peaceful journey.
In May 1964 after the murder of the Greek officers Poulios and Kapota and the Greek Cypriot Constantinides, quite a large number of Turkish Cypriots were arrested in Famagusta and were then murdered by paramilitaries as retaliation.
Amongst the innocent victims were two workers, inhabitants of Gouphes, Kemal Emin Demyroz and his father in law Karatzas. Since then the poison of revenge came between the people of the community. In 1966 Kyriakos Solomou was murdered outside the village. The Greek Cypriot residents of the village because of the fear that prevailed they had gradually abandoned the village and settled in the Greek Cypriot communities of the Lefkoniko area.
In 1974, there stayed only one organic family of Greek Cypriots, that of my uncle Michalis and my pensioner grandfathers. After the mass murders of Turkish Cypriot civilians in the villages of Mesaoria Santalaris, Aloa and Maratha, among which there were former inhabitants of Gouphes, TMT men murdered in retaliation my uncle Michalis 52 years old and my 16-year-old cousin Loizos on 22nd August.
None of these victims, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, did not participate in the intercommunal clashes. None knew the use of weapons, none was involved in the violence between the communities. They were all people of labour and everyday struggle for survival. They were people who served cooperation, the peaceful and productive coexistence. There were also the victims of an abnormal situation that others stirred up, others nourished and others gave it uncontrollable dimensions.
I feel the need to honour today these innocent victims in their whole, with my post and to give them the status of a martyr of the Cyprus issue.
In the past I had met in Lefkonico, Hasan, son of Kemal Emin Demyroz and I expressed my sadness for what happened to his family and he expressed his for what happened to our family. After the finding of the bones of Kemal and his burial in Gouphes, I visited his grave at the Gouphes cemetery with my friend Mehmet Terzi and my co-villager Christakis Tapinos and put flowers in his memory. I am completing this action today with my post, in memory of all the victims, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Consider the magnitude of the problem created in the two communities of Cyprus, if in such a small village of a total of 200 residents, we had so many innocent victims in ten years, without any confrontation or conflict in the village itself.
It is time for the two communities to overcome the anxieties, fears and prejudices, to feel the need for a mutual apology and to move forward together to building the common homeland.
The mosque and the church can coexist, as they continue to coexist today in Gouphes. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can cooperate and live together as our parents and grandparents did. All together we can enjoy the goods and joys of life. We do not deserve separation and barbed wires.
Cyprus is too small to remain divided and too big to accommodate us all."

Photo: The mosque and the church side by side in Gouphes...

(*) Article published in POLITIS newspaper on the 4th of June 2017, Sunday.

(**) Link to the article published in Turkish in YENİDÜZEN newspaper on the 28th of April 2017 on the same subject on my page called "Cyprus: The Untold Stories":

and on the 24th of April 2017:

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