Stories from Peristerona,Kyrenia,Athienou… #SevgulUludag #missingpersons

By Sevgul Uludag

`We were at a place and he had been sitting next to me… I did not know him… He was around 72 years old, born in 1943… He could speak Turkish… So we conversed in Turkish…` one of my readers told me last night… He had taken notes and brought these to me:
`This guy was from Peristerona as he said… He told me that Peristerona was a mixed village and they had very good and friendly relations with Turkish Cypriots. He told me the following: `We had never been afraid of each other and we never believed that such things would happen… But I lived through one thing that was very painful` he told me… I asked him what it was and he told me that it was like a rock sitting on his heart… Back in 1963-64 there were some Greek Cypriot `patriots` in an organization but we stayed away from them… We knew who they were. We knew that such an organization would not last too long… That’s why they did not like us… One day they had brought a Turkish Cypriot family to the village, there was a woman, one or two kids and the husband of the woman… The woman was crying out loud… Their hands were tied… They were taken to the spot behind the coffee shop in the centre of the village… I had heard gun shots and
heard that there was killing there… We heard that they buried some people behind the coffee shop… They told the villagers that if they speak about this, their end would be no different so we never said anything to anyone… I had a wife and kids… I never spoke about this to anyone… But my heart is deeply hurt… I apologize from God for this…` So these were the things he told me and I took notes to give to you for investigation…`
`But as far as I know` I tell my reader, `there is only one young Turkish Cypriot woman, Ilkay, who is `missing` from Peristerona… The remains of other `missing` have been found if I am not mistaken… Still we need to investigate every single thing to differentiate fantasy from fact… Perhaps we can try to find some friends from Peristerona to see if they remember such a thing…`
I thank my reader for sharing this information to investigate…
Another reader sends me a note:
`I heard this two years ago but now I remember to write about it to you and I am enclosing a google map so you can see…
There is a shooting range in Kyrenia and this place before 1974 was a military unit of the Greek Cypriots, they were the artillery unit if I remember correctly… I heard that here some Greek Cypriots had been buried… The local Kyrenians and those from Templos should know about this. I am talking about the new ring road going from Kyrenia to Karavas, just the north of this is a university… The place I am talking about is about 400 meters towards the east…
There is this person called….. but he is no longer alive but his son is alive… If you find the son, they might have more detailed information about this…`
I thank my reader for this and for the map he has sent me…
Another reader from Kyrenia writes to me to say what he used to hear from his father about the `Hirondelle Junction` in Kyrenia…
`My father used to tell me how he had seen a Greek Cypriot tank burnt down and 4-5 dead Greek or Greek Cypriot soldiers behind this tank… It is quite well known in Kyrenia that there were mass killings more than once next to the wall of the English cemetery…
If those who had been killed were thrown in the streams, no one is able to find them… But if they buried them there, perhaps their remains can be found… From what my father used to tell me, the possibility of a burial site there is very high…`
Another reader comes to sit and speak with me about something I didn’t know:
“You know the Turkish Cypriot village ……?` he asks, giving me the name of the village…
`Yes I do… They found the remains of some young Greek Cypriot soldiers there, buried in a well…`
`I know… But do you know what actually happened in that village?` he asks…
`Tell me` I say to him…
`Well, some Greek Cypriot soldiers based in Athienou attacked this Turkish Cypriot village and took some prisoners of war – among the prisoners were also families, civilian I mean and of course women… From what my parents and uncles have told me, they kept them in a house for some days… This was 1974… I heard that they raped some of the women… So you see, you can understand why some people from that particular village turned sort of `violent` afterwards… They were trying to take `revenge` but of course, from the `wrong` people! Those who came from Athienou – I don’t know if they were from Athienou or just happened to serve there – got away and nothing happened to them while other innocent youngsters paid for the price of those rapes…`
Rape during wartime is something so deeply hidden in both communities, it is extremely difficult to understand why this or that group of people would all of a sudden turned so `violent` – when you know that in certain villages there were rapes, you begin to `understand` – definitely not accept but understand – why they all of a sudden had gone `crazy`…
No one has ever spoken to me about the rapes in that particular village… So when one relative of a `missing person` whose brother had been found in the well in that village, asks for help to get back perhaps the golden cross that his brother had on him when he had been killed and to ask these villagers for help, this is when I come across the hidden story of rape in this particular village.
My reader who had been trying to help me only explains to me the rapes and despite his efforts, cannot get his villagers to cooperate…
The sister of the young `missing` Greek Cypriot whose remains were found in a well had explained to me that there had been nothing on them – that they were stripped of their rings, watches, golden crosses and if she could get back the golden cross of her brother, this would mean so much to her…
Unfortunately I would encounter a wall of silence instead of cooperation and when we look underneath this silence, we find out that it is the rapes that have caused this silence…
There are many things that we do not talk about as Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots as well as other communities of this land – we are not willing to talk about what went on, how the silence of the many helped the few well organized, well trained, well equipped to get their way that would lead all the way to the partition of our island… The few `patriots` who had protection on their own sides, managed to lead the events, with the help of outsiders to the point of almost no return… Not only that but the partition of the minds, the silent walls, the ignoring of the other, the suspicions, the fears, the concerns… All of these we need to deal with because it is the only way forward… Otherwise silent suspicions would be fed with fears and this would hinder the reconciliation of our communities on this island…
[email protected]

Tel: 99 966518
26.9.2015

Photo: A series of paintings by Turkish Cypriot artist Nilgun Guney about `missing persons`…

(*) Article published in POLITIS newspaper on the 25th of October 2015, Sunday.

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