`The children who didn’t grow up`…

`The children who didn’t grow up…` is a poem by Aydjan Sarachoghlu, a friend whom I have known for at least 35 years… Aydjan has always been in the forefront of the struggle for peace and reunification, for democracy, for human rights, for a better life on our land and on earth… We went to demonstrations of peace together with her… I remember her as a very young woman marching in the streets for women’s rights, for peace, for our children to grow up in a better place… I remember their small house in the block of social housing, going there and having coffee – she got married with another friend from the same progressive movement, our journalist friend Derman Sarachoghlu with whom I used to work together in the YENIDUZEN newspaper… He too had had a tough life, spent in struggle – back in the 80s and 90s, it would prove almost impossible to get a job if you were from the progressive movement – the regime in the northern part of the island would make sure that you would definitely suffer economically, psychologically and try to push you to leave, to go away… Derman and Aydjan as a young, married couple with a kid eventually had to choose to go to London to survive – perhaps they would have better conditions there for their kid to grow up…
They would emigrate to London but their hearts and minds would always remain here in Cyprus – from afar they would write, they would connect, they would follow and try to be a part of life in Cyprus…
Recently Aydjan organized an event with Turkish Cypriot poets and cartoonists from Cyprus… It took place in London where cartoonists had an exhibition of their cartoons about peace and poets read their poetry…
It was during these activities for peace and reunification that Aydjan planned to read the poem called `The children who didn’t grow up`… In fact on the 5th and 6th of December 2014, she did read this poem in the events she organized as the Cypriot Artists’ Platform… But on the 7th of December, 2014 one of the schools where the artists were to perform asked to `check` these poems and told Aydjan that she should not read this poem. The school administration in a closed meeting discussed what to do in case she does try to read the poem and they spoke of putting the students in rooms and not allowing them to get out so that they cannot hear her poem! So the poets and cartoonists decided not to go to that school…
The poem called `The children who didn’t grow up` is dedicated to the nine year old Yiannis Souppouris who is `missing` from Palekythro and to all the other innocent children who had been killed…

The children who didn’t grow up…

Aydjan Sarachoghlu

Your photo in front of me
You are still at the age when this photo was taken
They did not give you a chance to grow up
The child who didn’t grow up…

Your photo in front of me…
Your eyes shining full of hope,
Your face has endless happiness,
Your lips like brightness…

Your photo in front of me…
The child from Palekythro, Yiannis…
The child who couldn’t have enough childhood, enough games,
The child who couldn’t have enough of his home, of his school…

Your photo is in front of me… Was it war or was it revenge,
Was it a murder or a mass killing
Was it barbarism that you lived through?
You couldn’t understand either could you?
I couldn’t either Yiannis…
I couldn’t understand either…

I couldn’t fit it in my mind, in my heart.
Each time I close my eyes, I see you…
Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot, all children
All the children of my country who didn’t grow up
I remember you…
You are all innocent and surprised…
You all look into my eyes
Some of you in Greek,
Some of you in Turkish….

30 April, 2014 – London.

Aydjan’s husband Derman Sarachoglou also has a few words to say about this poem:

`The poem was written by my life comrade Aydjan. I am proud of her for having human values. This poem created quite a big stir behind closed doors in recent days when it was read out loud in front of the public. Unfortunately the administration of an `Education Facility` discussed in an `urgent meeting` how to lock up all Turkish Cypriot kids in the rooms in order to prevent them from hearing this poem! It’s nothing like you think… This is not happening in Africa or in a remote village in Asia. It all happened in the capital of England, London, a member of EU… I republish this poem in order to see if these people who think of locking up kids in rooms to prevent them from hearing it have left any kind of feeling ashamed of themselves… And I publish that photo of the child with bright eyes who had this poem written by the poet… Those who tried to ban this poem: You are so blind that you cannot see in these eyes of Yiannis also the Turkish Cypriot  children killed in 1974 in Maratha-Sandallaris-Aloa… You are so much without feeling that you cannot sense them in this poem…
The ones who are trying to make the poet pay a price for this poem should know that we are not going to stand down… You will have this shame forever but the poet will remain HUMAN and continue her struggle with human dignity… Because trying to demonize this poem and calling the poet a `traitor` among Turkish Cypriots is actually a crime, a human rights abuse, a racist propaganda which is punishable in the United Kingdom…`

WHO IS THE BOY IN THE POEM AND IN THE PHOTO?

Yiannis Souppouris was nine years old and was among the women and children massacred in Palekythro by some Turkish Cypriots in 1974. He is still `missing`. He is the brother of Petros Souppouris.
His father Andreas Souppouris was 48 years old, his mother Areti 39 years old, his aunt Thekla was 45 years old when killed. Little Dimitris was barely 4-5 years old and his sister Julia only 3 years old when they were killed. Yiannis too was killed in this massacre but his remains were not found in the mass grave…
Three or four Turkish Cypriots had gone from Epicho and probably Mora villages to Palekythro and had stolen the cows of the Souppouris family and the next day they had gone to the Souppouris house to rape and massacre everyone who gathered in that house. There had been 21 persons in that house. 17 of them were killed. Little Costas Souppouris had escaped and hid and stayed alive while 13 year old George Liasi was wounded but remained alive. He had also managed to identify the ones who had done this massacre. The big sister of George, Yianoulla was heavily wounded and had to be treated in East Germany for six months – only after very complicated surgery she could walk. She too had lost her two year old son – the child was among those massacred… Yianoulla’s mother, sisters, grandma and grandpa were also massacred.
After the identification of the 13 year old kid George Liassi, the four Turkish Cypriots were arrested and were to be tried in military court in Mia Milia… But the authorities of Epicho would run to Mia Milia and would `convince` the Turkish soldiers to let them go free…
Aydjan’s poem is dedicated to the children killed in this massacre, to Yiannis who is still `missing` and to all the innocent children who have been killed…

13.12.2014

Photo: The `missing` Yiannis Souppouris from Palekythro…

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