Re-assessing the past: Kizilyurek’s latest book on 1958


niyazi2Heterotopia publishes Niyazi Kizilyurek’s latest book on the 1958 Gionelli events.


Heterotopia Publications has released the latest book by Niyazi Kizilyurek entitled: “Şiddet Mevsiminin Saklı Tarihi” (A period of violence: The dark 1958). After years of extensive research on the inter-ethnic and political violence in Cyprus, Niyazi Kizilyurek chose to publish a book dealing exclusively with the events of 1958 that set the basis for the intensification of the conflict amongst the two communities. The book was presented in a launching event on Tuesday 14th July, in AKM, Nicosia with the presence of President Akinci’s Spokesman Barış Burcu and the Mayor of Gionelli, Ahmet Benli. Significantly, the book is also available in Greek under the title: “ Μια εποχή της Βιας. Το σκοτεινό 1958.”

Realising that the Turkish Cypriots have never faced that period of violence and have left it aside as a dark period without ever been called to historically evaluate it and extract any lessons from it, all speakers at the event focused on the importance of this book as a contributing factor to the attempts of facing the past and dealing with one’s past wrongdoing. As it was mentioned several times throughout the presentation, dealing with one’s history cannot merely be a matter of highlighting the pain and torment a community has endured but needs to be also about confronting the pain that you have created and inflicted upon others.niyazi

In opening the presentation, Cenk Uutluyakali emphasized the significance of July as a month of mourning in which one is called to remember all the pain caused. Representing Mustafa Akinci, presidential Spokesman Barış Burcu congratulated the efforts by Niyazi Kizilyurek and emphasized that negotiations amongst the two leaders are moving fast.  In order to have a permanent and sustainable solution though, he noted that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots need to understand that they need to be partners in working for creating conditions of viable cohabitation. In doing that, we need to put a mirror in front of us and see who we really are and what we have done, he said. The spokesman finished by noting that through Niyazi, he was congratulating everyone who was trying to shed light upon our history and enlighten the people.

In the most important contribution of the night, the current Mayor of Gionelli had the floor and in an emotional and symbolic speech he expressed the utter difficulty of the moment. In sharing his reminiscence of the event and its depiction through the Turkish Cypriot community he noted that the massacre of the Kontemeniotes was the first step that sparked off the conflict and led to great losses and pain from both communities. It is high time, he noted, that we all faced what we did and grasped the pain that we inflicted. In closing his speech he highlighted that it is our duty to shape peace on the island and carry on working for a solution together without losing faith in it.

In presenting the book and the writer, Hakki Yucel mentioned that our history is touching all aspects of our society and it is very important that today we can speak about things in a way that we were not able to do in the past. In congratulating the writer, he mentioned that the book is a piece of our history and of responsibility and we need to view it like that as we should confront our past wrongdoings. Above all, by understanding the past we can earn significant lessons that can help us avoid future wrongdoings and can allow us to empathise with the other side.

When Niyazi Kizilyurek took the floor, he emphasised the sense of fear and mistrust that had been created amongst the two communities following the events of 1958. We need to see where our mistakes lie and refrain from putting all the blame on others he mentioned. However, he highlighted that he was hopeful for the future following his encounter with the relatives of some of the victims of the Gionelli massacre and the speech of the Mayor of Gionelli.

Andromachi Sophocleous

Cypriot Puzzle

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