THE GENOCIDE FILES- H.SCOTT GIBBONS
WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS MEAN TO YOU , A TIME OF GOODWILL TO ALL MEN, A TIME TO SPEND WITH YOUR FAMILY AND A JOYFULL TIME FOR ALL CHILDREN THIS IS WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANT TO ME . UNTILL CHRISTMAS 1963 IN CYPRUS.
On Christmas Eve, 1963, there were 120 Turks living in the mixed hamlet of Ayios Vasiliosstraddling the road between Nicosia and Myrtou in the Northwest. Some time that evening, cars and trucks drove into the village From the direction of Nicosia. Armed men poured out of the Vehicles. They had a brief discussion at the coffee shop at one end Of the village, then they moved purposefully towards the Turkish Quarter. Shots rang out, rifle butts smashed against locked doors, people Were dragged into the streets.
A 70-yr-old Turk was awakened by the sounds of his front door Splintering. Tottering out of his bedroom, he found several young Armed men inside the house. "Have you any children," they asked. Bewildered, he replied, "Yes." "Send them outside," he was ordered. His two sons, 19 and 17 years old, and his granddaughter, aged 10 hastily dressed and followed the gunmen outside.
They were lined up outside the cottage wall. The gunmen, Without another word, coolly machine-gunned them to death. In another house, a 13-yr-old boy had his hands tied behind his Knees and was thrown on the floor. While the house was being Ransacked, his captors kicked and abused him. Then a pistol was Placed at the back of his head and he was shot.
Altogether, 12 Turks were massacred that evening in Ayios Vasilios. The others were rounded up and kicked and punched along the Highway to Skylloura, a few miles further in the direction of Myrtou, to seek refuge with Turks there. In night attire and bare Feet, they stumbled along in the cold, the Greeks shooting after Them in the darkness. Then the gunmen turned their attention to the Turkish houses. They looted and destroyed and finally, exhausted, they set the Houses on fire.
The Greek inhabitants of the village, roused by the Noise, stood watching the orgy of destruction.
None protested. After the gunmen had gone, they rushed to the Turkish houses And began to loot the remaining possessions of their neighbours Before the flames took too firm a hold. In isolated farmhouses in the same region, nine more Turks Were murdered.
When the Turks of Skylloura saw the flames of Ayios Vasilios, They sent their women and children across the fields to Phota and Krini in the north. As the Vasilios refugees arrived, they too were taken north. By Midnight, Skylloura was also evacuated. Left behind were the Turkish houses, their possessions and their Greek neighbours. The Long, ragged lines plodded wearily north, seeking safety, sanctuary, Respite from this terrifying savagery that had descended on them, Stumbling along in the darkness of the cruel, cold, Christmas morn.
At the same time, over 150 armed Greeks descended on the Turkish Suburb of Kumsal, Northwest of the Nicosia walls near the Turkish village of Ortakoy which straddled the road to Kyrenia. That evening, Hasan Yusuf Gudum, an elderly Turkish Landlord was visiting one of his clients in Kumsal.With him was his wife, Ferideh, his neighbour Mrs. Ayshe Mora with her one-year-old daughter, Ishin, and her married sister, Novber.
They were paying a call on the family of Major Nihat Ilhan, the Chief medical officer with the mainland Turkish army contingent. The major was on duty that "night with his unit. His wife, Muruvvet, was with their three children, Murat, Kutsi and Hakan, aged seven Four and six months. The nine were having supper in the dining room when one of the Greek private armies, augmented by workers from the Severis flour Mill whom had - willingly or under coercion - joined their ranks, Crossed the dry Pedieos riverbed. The conversation around the dining table cut off abruptly when Bullets began to spatter the outside walls, sounding like heavy rain.
The group rose hurriedly, the women dragging the children and Gudum ushered them to the back part of the house.They all, four women", four children and Bathroom and closed the door. The landlord's wife suddenly Changed her mind, left the Bathroom and went into the separate toilet where she locked herself.
Mrs. Ilhan, the major's wife, stepped into the bath, and holding Her baby stood facing the door, her other two children clinging onto her legs.
The two other Woman and Cudum crawled terrified into the Corners beside the door. Mrs. Ayshe Mora held her baby close. There was a crash as the front door burst open and a continuous roar as machine-gun bullets Spewed through the house. Footsteps came to the locked bathroom, an unknown hand Impatiently rattled the knob, and a voice called in Greek, ` "How would you like Enosis"
Then a hail of bullets tore through the wood and Mrs. llhall and Her children, caught directly in its path, were lifted off their feet and Dumped on to the bottom of the bath. The killers smashed the door lock and jumped inside. One of The major's children moaned and was scolded into permanent Silence by a short peremptory burst. Then the raiders saw the others Huddled on the floor.
They played their guns on them like impatient Children forced to water the garden flowers. The three Turks were All wounded some seriously. A bullet struck the foot of the baby Ishin. The locked door of the toilet drew the gunmen's attention to The landlord's wife. The door was beaten in by machine-gun butts And the woman was dragged out whimpering. A pistol was placed To her head, one shot was fired, and she slumped to the floor, dead.
The killers whooping and jeering, charged through the house, Machine-gunning cupboards, smashing furniture, slipping and Sliding on the dark red blood that crept out of the bathroom. lshin Mora, the baby, survived, and after several operations her Foot was saved. Today, aged 35, lshin is married with a young son. She owns the supermarket Can (pronounced Jan) Kan on Shakespeare Avenue in Nicosia. Her limp reminds her of the Atrocity she was too young to understand.
Ozer Jambaz was one of the Fighters who went with the retreat Through the Greek quarter. "As the long column straggled past, he told me, "the Greeks Went up to their lofts and removed some of the red roof tiles, not Enough for themselves to be seen, Just enough to stick a gun Through. And then they began shooting down on those defenceless People. We had no ammunition and had to take the punishment.
For the Greeks, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. They were our Neighbours, the same ones who say today that they had always Lived peacefully with us. They were bastards, absolute bastards! There were many injured. But it could have been worse. We could All have died. "If Sampson and his army had had the courage to attack us - as He alleged he did in his memoirs - he could have killed the 5,000 of us. We were completely defenceless by this time. We would have been at their mercy and we were finding out , through those neighbours of ours that the Greeks had no mercy".
Ever since Sandys had literally forced the Greeks to return the Turkish hostages from Kykkos school, lrene Checkley of the St John's Ambulance Corps and the International Red Cross Representatives on the island had been touring the country armed With a list of missing Turks. Among them were the names of the 21 Patients who had vanished from Nicosia Central Hospital Eventually, they received information that the patients had died And had been burried in the little cemetery at Ayios Vasilios
On Monday morning, a group of Turks with spades were escorted by British paratroopers to the graveyard the foreign Press Watched as the digging commenced.
The first spot chosen unearthed, only a few feet down, the first Bodies. Three men had been thrown on top of each other.
The digging continued A family was unearthed, a boy with his Hands still tied behind his knees, a little girl. They were all fully clothed, one an old man with the black Baggy trousers and high boots of the Cypriot peasant.
From the coffee shop at the Greek end of the village, only a few Hundred Yards away came a young Greek on a motor scooter. The Troops stood aside to let him pass through A few minutes later he Returned, stopped and, gazing at the scene with some interest, Calmly. Started to light cigarette. A paratroop sergeant spotted him and yelled. "Get him out of Here!" A soldier sprang forward Gave one unmistakable motion With his thumb, and the Greek roared back to the village.
I got into my Rover and followed . At the coffee shop sat over a dozen young Greeks. The scooter man was regaling them with what He had seen. I walked into the shop. Ordered coffee and returned To sit at a table among the customers I was feeling rather Belligerent. A few minutes later, a Greek police superintendent stood in the road, looking first along at the graveyard and then at Me.
I went over to him and introduced myself he spoke excellent English I said. "You used to have a lot of Turks living here," I said What happened to them?" The superintendent turned a trifle grey. "They left" he said. "Where did they go?" "We tried to stop them but they insisted on leaving and going to Other villages." "There were over one hundred," 1 told him. "Twenty-one never reached the other villages. Have you any idea where they are?"
He shook his head. "They all left." "Twenty-one of them didn't go far," I said. "Just a few hundred yards." He kept looking at me, so I pointed up the road to the huddle of Paratroopers. "They stopped up there," I said, "in the cemetery. They're dead and buried."
He didn't answer, and I was standing there glaring at him, Willing him to say or do something that would give me an excuse to belt him one, when a few other journalists came up. They saw there was a fight brewing and one of them took my arm and took me back to my car. 1 told them what the policeman had said, and we all drove back to witness the grisly scene at the graveyard.
There was no guesswork in deciding the corpses were from Ayios Vasilos and the neighbourhood. The Twenty one patients had been in the hospital when the shooting started. They had. Not been fully clothed. By nightfall, twenty-one bodies had been Exhumed. They were taken to the Turkish quarter of Nicosia for burial. Some were identified immediately as the former residents of Ayios Vasilios. Some were never identified, so badly were they maimed.
How had the 21 hospital patients got mixed up with the 21 Ayios Vasilios villagers?
That night, the Greeks issued a written statement Headed, "Turks distort the truth." It calmly insisted that the Ayios Vasilios bodies were not the villagers at all, but were in fact the Hospital patients. The statement read: "A government spokesman, referring to today's exhumation of Corpses from the Turkish cemetery at Ayios Vasilios and the Unholy exploitation of the subject by the Turkish leadership, has Stated the following: -
During the first days of the incidents, Greece and Turkish Wounded and dead were taken not only to Greek and Turkish Private clinics, but also to the Nicosia General Hospital. Fifty-two Greek wounded and sixteen Greek dead as well as Five Turkish wounded and 21 Turkish dead were removed to the General Hospital. The hospital authorities promptly notified the Minister of Health, who is a Turk, and the Turkish Cypriot Leadership to make Arrangements for the removal of the Turkish dead.
They replied that They would do so. The Red Cross was also informed and a list of The dead was handed to it. But as the days passed and decomposition had begun, the Hospital had no alternative but to make arrangements for the burial Of the bodies, which were interned (sic) in the Turkish cemetery at Ayios Vasilios. The .Turkish Cypriot leadership was again informed Of this.
This action of the hospital authorities in seeing to the burial of The bodies ought to be appreciated as a humane gesture. Instead, the Turkish Cypriot leaders thought fit to distort the truth in an attempt To make political capital. Thus showing disrespect not only for the Truth but for their dead."
When the Red Crass finally discovered the burial place, they Were under the impression they would find the bodies of the 21 Who had been patients when the shootings started. The statement was an attempt to account for them, so the Greeks were admitting the hospital patients were in fact dead.
The Attempt was unsuccessful,for the world was already seeing the Photographs of the exhumation and knew from the clothes of the Victims and the filmed evidence that some had their hands tied Behind their backs that they were not hospital in-patients.
The statement also showed there was a deep sickness in the Minds of the Greek Cypriot leadership. Every foreign Correspondent who read it was filled with disgust. The fate of those 71 in-patients was never revealed by the Greeks. But the revolting truth did come to light 25 years later.
The British newspaper "The Guardian." quoting a hitherto Secret report from a certain "Packard".
A naval commander based in Maltil who had been sent to Cyprus to trace missing persons, Reported: "One of Packard's first tasks was to try to find out what had happened to the Turkish hospital patients. Secret discussions took place with a Greek Minister....
It appeared that the Greek medical Staff had slit the Turkish patient's throats as they lay in their beds. Their bodies were loaded on to a truck and driven to a farm north of the city where they were fed into mechanical choppers and ground into the earth." This nauseating behaviour was carried out under the Akritas Plan. Its Chief of Operations was on Glafkos Clerides, code name Hiperides. At the moment of writing he is the President of Greek Cyprus.
On January 15, the conference on Cyprus opened in London. The British were confident a solution would be worked out. The Turks Were hopeful. But Makarios threw another spanner in the works. It had been agreed after hard bargaining through Mr. Sandys That the conference would be………… attended by representatives of their Governments - Britain, Greece and Turkey and the two Cyprus Communities.
This was the official communiqué made by the British High Commission on the departure of Mr. Sandys on January 2, 1964. Greece and Turkey were represented by their foreign ministers, Glafkos Clerides led the Greek Cypriot delegation, Denktash and Osman Orek the Turkish one.
Then Makarios sent his foreign minister, Spyros Kyprianou, accompanied by the Attorney General, Criton Tornnrites QC, to represent the Cyprus government. During the talks, Duncan Sandys, the chairman, treated Kyprianou as the Greek Cypriot delegate, but nevertheless the constitution of the conference had been subtly adulterated and its chances of success were doomed to failure from the outset on account of this Greek Cypriot manoevre for Kyprianou had been sent sabotage the talks.
THE GENOCIDE FILES- H.SCOTT GIBBONS
THE HISTORY CANNOT BE WRITING ON ONE WAY
IF YOU CAN NOT HANDLE THE TRUTH,
DON'T SPEAK !