Sunday, October 6, 2019
“How the Turkish Cypriots of Paphos helped Makarios supporters and the Left against Junta during the coup…”
Tel: 99 966518
Our good friend from Paphos, researcher and author Ulus Irkad sheds light on something not many people know: How the Turkish Cypriots of Paphos had helped the Makarios supporters and the Left against Junta, during the coup… Today I want to share what he wrote about this… Here is what Ulus Irkad says:
"Today I would like to tell the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots a few things that they would not find in any books of history: That we had saved the life of Makarios…
After the coup of the 15th of July 1974, on the 16h of July, I was called to the military post and I was 16 years old. I served at the Paphos Mosque Area with an English made automatic Sten gun in my hand until the 17th of July 1974.
During the coup, the units of the Greek Cypriot National Guard and EOKA B were fighting in the streets of Paphos. The units of Makarios and the left that they had formed… There were resistance at various places. I will never forget that as the Junta Units and their supporters attacked Limassol, a group of Makarios supporters and some left wing Paphidians had got on a truck to go as support to Limassol and they would be ambushed at Kolossi and most of them would be killed.
Since the Makarios supporters and the left were the victim, I will say openly that both myself and my friends were feeling sympathy towards them. The youngsters who were the two kids of our neighbour from Vretcha who used to work as construction workers in the Greek Cypriot side had come home in fear – they had witnessed to the killing of two policemen by EOKA-B and I would never forget how worried they were.
Our house was just on the border and in those days it had been turned into a military unit for the Turkish Cypriot fighters and close to our street, I will never forget the screams of a woman whose young son was shot and killed by some Greek soldiers.
Makarios had escaped the coup and had took refuge in Paphos… In those days I remember the following broadcast from a radio transmitting from Chloraka until the 17th of July around noon:
-Ime Makarios, ime zondanos, ohi inenekros… (Meaning this is Makarios, I am not dead, I am alive…)
I remember the last broadcast from this radio on the 17th of July in Arabic like this:
-Yahya Guprus, yahya Demokradiyedde Milliyedde Guprus.
And this was the last announcement. I will not forget that the assault boat called "Leventis" would bomb this radio station and silence it. It may be the same day or a day earlier, I think the same assault boat would be bombing the units in the Paphos Castle and they would exchange fire… One of my friends who was on top of the Ebubekir Mosque would call down to one of our police friends and say "Hey! One of the artillery just fell down in your garden and your garden is burning" and this friend would be worried since his father had gone towards that garden… Their orchards were in Ktima Paphos (Dip Baf) in 1963, where the Paphos Airport is now…
Again, after the Pirate Radio had stopped its transmissions, with the permission of the Turkish Cypriot Military Command (Sancaktarlik) of Paphos, Makarios would pass over us with two English helicopters towards the sea and from there would fly to the Akrotiri British Military Bases. The clear and exact order of the "Sancaktarlik" (The Turkish Cypriot Military Command) in Paphos was that there would be no firing at the helicopter of Makarios and we had protected Makarios in this way against the fascist Junta.
When the civil war began among Greek Cypriots in the area called Mavrali (this area had been occupied in 1964 and 9 Turkish Cypriots had been killed) two Greek Cypriot policemen became trapped there and again with the orders of the Turkish Cypriot Military Command of Paphos (Sancaktarlik) some of our Turkish Cypriot friends would bring food to these policemen. I personally saw Aygun Necip and Arif Ruso (who would later be killed in the war and become a martyr) bringing food to these policemen. I want the young generations to know these… During the war, our sympathy was towards the Makarios and the Left in general and we supported them against the Junta. This was the general trend among Turkish Cypriots in Paphos. And we were ordered to be kind to those leftists and Makarios supporters when they would seek shelter in Paphos. It was as though the Makarios supporters and the leftists were on our side and this was the general trend. I will say it even more openly… During the civil war, we heard that the owner of a farm from Paphos who was a supporter of Makarios would go on the hills and there was this feeling that if the civil war continued like that, we would be with him…
When the civil war was continuing and we were digging trenches near the water depot of Lazana Front, an older acquaintance who is not alive now but whose son is a close friend of mine was saying "Let NATO come and let it partition Cyprus so that we can rest" and I had found what he was saying very interesting. I remember as a 17-year-old of being against such a view. As we deepened the trenches at the Lazana Front, I would witness the strong resistance of the Makarios supporters of Chloraka against the Junta Units as they were entering Chloraka.
After taking over the Mavrali Area, on the 20th of July I remember the Turkish Cypriot Military Command (Sancaktar) of Paphos upon seeing us kids in military positions that he would start crying and that we would surround the Greek Cypriot policemen as brothers and as friends and we would tell them that we would not do anything to them, that we would give them to the UN soldiers and I remember the Greek Cypriot policemen embracing us after we said these…
I saw one of these police friends in Pyla and we would embrace each other just as we had done years ago on that day… (His name was Glafcos, on my last visit to Paphos, I learned that he died, may he rest in peace I say…) And on the 22nd of July 1974 as Paphos fell, an EOKA guy would point a gun at me and he would prevent that and show that he knew me… He too had saved my life.
On the 20th of July 1974, inside the Mavrali stream I was with the late Mustafa Tarkush, we were putting some canvas cloth so that the airplanes would see and not far from us at that moment thousands of Greek Cypriot militia and soldiers were at the Melano… The Commander Osman Karshili was looking to find some volunteer people to carry three shells of artillery to go together with our friend Arif Ruso. The place they would be sent was an extremely dangerous area – it would be certain death going there. I knew that because my father always showed me this area… When the commander asked, no one volunteered so he had to throw a coin for heads and tails and a friend called the English Doghan (since his looks were like English) had to go and he would lose couple of fingers and Arif Ruso who was using the artillery, would lose his life… Most of us were very young kids and we struggled until the last moment so that the Junta supporters would not take over Paphos. But the truth was this: They had long ago given up Paphos, those who had made the partition plan, had planned it that way. I wish that from the very beginning we would have had known all of this consciously and so that we would not go through so much pain as the two communities. From now on as both communities, we should be careful not to fall into the same mistakes again…
As it became clear on the night of the 20th of July that Paphos would fall the following day, my late uncle Omer Ayral would come home and cry – he had been the founding director of the Gazi Baf Radio since 1965 and he had broken all the equipment and had come home in sadness, crying… I will never forget that…
I also remember this very clearly: My late father had come home briefly before the war began and would show me units of ELDIK who were landing and said to me, "They too have humans inside them… No human being is born guilty when he or she is born… Be careful but don't be cruel…"
War is a terrible thing… Young people dying is a bad fate… After 45 years, the point I have come to is this: Now is the time for peace, time to embrace, time to talk, time to draw lessons so mistakes will never be made again, time to make empathy… I say peace now, immediately…
In memory of all our people whom we lost in July and August with respect…"
"Two friends we lost in the area of Mavrali in Paphos: Arif Ruso and Ihsan Kilich…"
Ulus Irkad remembers two of his friends whom he lost during the war in 1974 in the area of Mavrali in Paphos… He says:
"On the 20th of July 1974, in the Mavrali area of Paphos we lost two of our friends… One of them is Arif Ruso. He was going to the frontline with an artillery. We had a draw and the person who went with him also lost some of his fingers… The other friend was Ihsan Kilich… He had come from England to see his wife and his three-year-old son. Due to the war, he ran to the military posts… Just before the war, I had said to him, "Today you look very handsome…" And he had replied "I am always handsome…" That was it… A few hours later he would be shot… And unfortunately where his father fell in 1964 and died, he too died in the same place as his father in 1974… We were together with both until their last moments… May they rest in peace… May there be no war again I say…"
Photo: When Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots of Paphos meet...
(*) Article published in POLITIS newspaper on the 1st of September 2019, Sunday. A similar article was published on my pages entitled "Cyprus: The Untold Stories" in the YENİDÜZEN newspaper on the 26th of July 2019 and here is the link: