Sunday, March 11, 2018

Saying goodbye to Pavlos Solomi and Solomis Pavlou from Komi Kepir…

Saying goodbye to Pavlos Solomi and Solomis Pavlou from Komi Kepir…

Sevgul Uludag

Tel: 99 966518

We go to attend the funeral of Pavlos Solomi and his son Solomis Pavlou who had been `missing` from Galatia… They are the father and the brother of my dear friend Christina Pavlou Solomi Patsia… We go to Limassol to be with her and to be present on the last journey of her father and her brother… May they rest in peace…
Christina perhaps will find a little peace in the end: After working together with her for so many years to find the remains of her father, she has fulfilled her promise to her mother: That she would find and bring them home… Home is no longer Komikepir but Limassol now… The tragic partition of our land also stops us from burying our loved ones to places they belong to…
I want to thank my readers who helped us to find the location of the mass grave in the Galatia lake and who followed throughout the years the excavations in the lake and warned us and constantly worked with us in order to get this result… I thank for their humanity and for their help without expecting anything from anyone…
In her funeral speech, Christina Pavlou Solomi Patsia says:
`Today, 3rd March 2018, the page of waiting is closing.
We always had the hope for a different, joyful reunion in Komi Kepir, our village.
The news, however, came 43 years later and we are meeting you smaller than us, frozen in time, only your bones in a small box, here in the church of Agios Loukas in the Agios Athanasios settlement in Limassol, for your funeral.
It was August 15, 1974 when our whole family was arrested from our home in Komi Kepir by Turkish Cypriot co-villagers and they transferred us to the village Galatia.
There, it was the last moment that I saw you alive, and even then in fleeing, since they rushed us away from you, that black day.
Pasias had then personally promised us that in three days you would be coming back to us in our house in Komi. But this never happened.
We had difficult years on our own, my mother and I, always thinking about you and being anxious for some good news.
I want to tell you my dad and my Solo, that God did not throw us away… I came together with a good family who supported me as much as they could during the difficult moments of my life and I thank them.
However, from up there you will be seeing all together and be proud…
From this wonderful family, here is my husband Vasos, who if you were here dad, you would be grateful for his kindness and worthiness…He is so much like you…
My family grew, dad you have 3 grandchildren, and you Solo, nephews and a niece, Pavlos, Argyro and Giorgos. They never had the fortune to meet their grandfather or their uncle, to play with you, to joke or to get your advice.
My mother ran everywhere to learn about you. She was only receiving promises, while she was there present, that they would try. Promises of the moment, I was always calling them. None of them, those in high ranks, came forward to support us, to see if we needed something, to advise us. No one was found to say what he knew about you, what had happened to you. And we were always living in hope.
Too many whys. No matter how hard I struggled, I could not find anyone to give me the answer! The only thing I understood beyond any doubt, is that fanaticism and hatred brought us where we are now! Others, pseudo-patriots, have done what they did to innocent people and unfortunately we paid the great price, like so many others, to be burying you today, 2 great men ("leventes"), 42 and 18 years old, while you were in your village and in your jobs, with your dreams for the future with your family, without hurting anyone and without being involved anywhere.
This was also the reason that you had decided that we were to stay in our village.
We did not have the fortune to bury you at least in our village, in our Komi, which you loved so much and you were making your dreams, the dreams of our whole family there.
We are burying you today, here in Limassol which is hosting us for so many years. So be it, as long as we are all together again! There will be a grave, a point of reference. Your new home, where I will come to light your candle and we will talk about our things. And I have a lot to tell you.
Once I promised to my mother, who could not struggle and seek for you anymore, that I would continue her struggle, that I would find you and bring you to her before she died. There would be a proper funeral according to our religion, and a grave to light your candle. The promise that I gave is fulfilled today.
Today, here in front of your sacred bones, I make a new promise. To struggle as much as I can for Peace, Reconciliation and the Reunification of our Cyprus. A Cyprus for all of us, as you always said dad. It is small to be divided, but big enough to fit all of us.
No more crying! No more blood to be shed unjustly! No more women in black and orphaned children! Enough!
Finishing off…
The biggest "thank you" I have to express to the Turkish Cypriot investigative journalist Sevgul Uludag, a simple person, with a big Cypriot heart, who stood by me since 2008 and supported me morally and psychologically during the difficult times, as my friend until today. Writing our stories in newspapers YeniDuzen and POLITIS where she works, she brought me in contact with the witnesses and slowly-slowly we managed the impossible.
A very big "thank you" I should also publicly express to those Turkish Cypriot unsung heroes, who with the murderers being alive in their region, risked a lot, but came near us, without expecting anything in return and with their information and insistence, the Missing Persons Committee was able to locate the burial site, do the exhumation and the funeral to happen today.
A big "thank you" I should also say to the members of the Missing Persons Committee, who with their anthropologists, archaeologists, geneticists from both communities, helped to collect and document the information.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you, Greek Cypriots but also Turkish Cypriots, who with your presence honour their memory in their last journey.
May the soil of the foreign land which will cover you be light!
We will always remember you!"
And the cousin of Christina, Kyriacos Paschali also speaks at the funeral and here is what he says:
"Dearest Cousin,
It was 12th of August 1974 when I received your last letter. One letter that I have always kept with me and will always do. Not only you were my cousin but also my best friend.
You knew that both myself and my brother were away at the time so you made it your duty to check on our parents too.
You wrote;
Komi Kebir, 9th August 1974
Dear Cousin Kyriacos hello. We are all well and wish the same for you. It is with so much joy that I have just now received your letter. Not long before I wrote this letter, I passed by your house and your mother told me that they are all ok and that she, herself, will also write to you.
I want to write to you so much but let's leave the rest another time. You have all our regards, with Love Solomis Pavlou.
The envelope is marked, Komi Kebir August 10th, 1974.
Little we knew that there was not going to be another opportunity to talk later on. Little I have known that it will take 43 years before we meet up again.
The persistence of your mum and your sister have made it possible to find you and bring you home to us.
It is no surprise that you were found together with your dad, my uncle. You were all a close knit family and lived by example.
I am so lucky and proud to have played a little part in your short lives, enough however to get to know you both for your kind and considerate characters.
I will never forget the summers that we have worked together in the fields whether harvesting or collecting Carobs.
I will never forget the sound of the tractor coming to our house to pick me up and all three of us go to the sea. We will be swimming at the shore and uncle will go fishing. He would never come back unless his fishing line was loaded with fish. I am not sure what impressed me most – his fishing or Hunting charisma. He was our idol.
It is no secret that I have always looked up to you Uncle and always wanted to be an achiever in life like you. A progressive farming entrepreneur in a small farming community, and well respected by both communities, Turkish and Greek Cypriots at the same time.
The whole family has shown and shared so much respect to our mix community and has always believed in co-existence and equal opportunities.
Unfortunately as the story unfolds such values not only did not help and did not count but also proved to be the beginning of a tragedy that would take 43 years to resolve.
Auntie Panagiota has given all her life looking for you, wanting to bring you home safe. She has never left any opportunity go by, whether in Cyprus or abroad. She never held back in seeking for that someone that can help bring you home.
I have heard her many times blaming and asking herself why she didn't challenge your decision to stay back. I am sure however, considering the trust and respect you shared with our Turkish community you would have taken the same decision again.
I hear Christina, my cousin, saying we must offer our hands and help heal the open wounds. Enough is enough she says. If from what we see today, this family can still stand up and say that they can forgive for the sake of peace and co-existence then surely we all owe to give it a chance.
I personally struggle to understand how they can manage that and how they can forgive.
It all started from their own home, by our Turkish Cypriot neighbours, our friends.
It is also sad that for such a long time none of them had the courage to come forward to help find the location of the mass grave.
The silence over 43 years deepened the wounds of the initial crime.
It is not too late to try and make up lost time. Unfortunately there are many more missing Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Only co-operation and individual initiatives can help bring them back to their loved ones, Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots.
We have all, in our own way missed you so much and for so long we have been living with the glimmer of hope that one day we will meet up again.
In reality you were never away and certainly you will never be away from now on.
Rest in peace. We will always love you and will never forget you."
(Christina's funeral speech was translated from Greek to English by Gina Chappa).

Photo: Christina and her mother Panayiota at the funeral...

(*) Article published in the POLITIS newspaper on the 11th of March 2018, Sunday. A series of my articles about the funeral were published in Turkish in our newspaper YENİDÜZEN on 5,6,7,8 and 9 March 2018 and here are the links to these articles:

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