Yeraltı Notları, 2 Ekim 2008

Sevgül Uludağ

 

The story of Assia (Pasakoy) and Afanya (Gazikoy)

Afanya (Gazikoy) was a mixed village – Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots lived there… After the coup, some Greek Cypriots who were members of AKEL or were in support of Makarios were arrested by EOKA-B and brought to Nicosia… Was it the EOKA-B leadership who decided after the 20th of July 1974 that `Nothing should be sold to Turkish Cypriots in the village`? Was it them or was it another group? Some Greek Cypriots who had good relations with the Turkish Cypriots of the village were upset about this decision. Michellis from the neighbouring Assia (Pasakoy) village was upset with this decision… He had a truck and used to go to the Turkish section of Afanya often… He would bring them things they needed and he was one of the few Greek Cypriots who was `allowed` by the Turkish Cypriot leadership of that village of that time to enter the Turkish section.

Michellis was upset about a lot of other things perhaps, the way the country was taking wrong directions, eventually brining massacres and an exodus that would split it for good… Michellis was a good person, a kind person, who was also against the Turkish Cypriots getting kicked out of Assia back in the 50s and 60s.

Again, the real `leadership` of the Assia village had decided that the Turkish Cypriots of the village `must leave`! They had set fire to these houses and the Turkish Cypriots of the village had left for the neighbouring Vadili and Afanya (Gazikoy). Michellis, who had a truck, had helped his fellow villagers move… The EOKA leadership of that time was angry with the way Michellis was acting so they shaved the hair of his wife as punishment for helping the Turkish Cypriots…

Despite this, Michellis Charalambous did not stop his relationship with his Turkish Cypriot friends. Despite harassment, despite the cutting off of the hair of his wife he continued to live the way he believed was right…

1974 came and Michellis was arrested together with his son Hambis, being taken to different places… While his son Hambis got stuck in the famous Pavlidis garage, Michellis was sent back to his village Assia (Pasakoy) to find his wife…

Later one of his Turkish Cypriot friends from Vadili from the `Arnavutis` family went to see him…

`Come on` he said, `let’s collect those who are dead and bury them…`

So they did that, burying about 6 or 7 Greek Cypriots who were killed in the village, in order to prevent from disease spreading around…

They had buried them and the last to be buried was Michellis… The guy, who helped Turkish Cypriots so much… The guy who risked his own life to help was the one to be killed last… These were the rumors about him in the village…

Back in Afanya (Gazikoy) another drama was going on… Greek Cypriot prisoners were brought to the elementary school of Afanya. They were from the same village and some others from surrounding villages were brought to the school.

In the school there was a young girl of 20 who was trying to help the Greek Cypriot prisoners of war… In fact, she was a Turkish Cypriot student studying economics in Istanbul. In the summer of 1974, she was back in her village Afanya for holidays but the war caught her there to change her, to make her see things that she would regret seeing, experience things that would leave marks on her forever…

She and her sisters would help the prisoners, some of them fellow villagers, some of them people they knew from Assia (Pasakoy). She would bring milk and grapes to a blind woman of 50 who had been raped... This woman was paralyzed and she could not move... So the young Turkish Cypriot girl would go to visit her house, bring her some grapes, change her sheets, clean her and tidy her hair... The blind Greek Cypriot woman felt shame because war was just a pretext to bring about shame to the others – to bring out the monster hidden to rape and kill and create mass graves... For some, war was a time of wild rage – going round the houses in Assia and finding young girls to rape or going round in Maratha, Sandallaris and Aloa to set up camp in the village cafes to drink, shoot in the air and rape the women of these villages, then start on the young girls and even boys... A bunch of EOKA-B guys – good for nothing – just having fun and in the end, in order not to leave any witnesses, killing all, even the babies of the village and burying them in mass graves...

So the young girl of 20 from Afanya tried to help – people thought that she was a nurse. Actually she had nothing to do with being a nurse – she just had a human heart and could not bear that she would live her normal life while others suffered.

In the school there was the Swedish contingent of the UN Peacekeeping Force UNFICYP. They had a huge trunk full of medicine and first aid stuff... She asked them to teach her how to use these – she did not know how to give a shot for instance so she would break the ampules of pain killers and make the wounded persons drink this. She would run back and forth between the Swedish soldiers of the UN and the wounded to ask how to use this or that medicine, what to give to stop the pain, to stop the blood, to stop the tears and suffering...

One day, her sisters came home running, saying `The angurukya man is here! Come!`

They were meaning that a person from Assia (Pasakoy) who used to come to their village to sell vegetables had come to Afanya (Gazikoy). He had been also selling cucumbers, that’s why they called him the `angurukya man`. `Angurukya` meant `cucumbers`.

Nicos Loizu – the angurukya man – was in fact in his house in Assia (Pasakoy) with his family when three Turkish Cypriots from the neighbouring Afanya (Gazikoy) came breaking the door and shooting at random... The family was split in that chaos – his young son, Panayotis was shot and Nicos took him to the house of the papaz (priest) of the village... His wife and other kids went to the house of the judge Kallis of the village. Panayotis was shot and bleeding... He was barely a boy of 17 with unbelievable blue-green eyes, what the Greek Cypriots call `Yalluris`... This was the color of the Mediterranean – a deep green and a deep blue mixed together, shining and beautiful, making you want to look at it more and more, calming you, making you think of the sea and the sky...

While in the house of the papaz (priest) of the village, some other Turkish Cypriots came and saw the wounded Panayotis...

`It is a shame to keep him here re Nicos!` they told him.

`But what can I do? `

`If you leave him here, he will die! Bring him to Afanya, where there is a nurse and she can treat his wounds` they told him...

`How I will go to Afanya? There are too many soldiers around. They might kill us! `

`Take the mother of the papaz (priest) and find a baby carriage and put your son on this... When they will see an old woman, an elder man and a wounded boy, they will not touch you! `

So this was what Nicos did exactly. He took the mother of the papaz (priest) of the village, Maria with him – they found a baby carriage and put the wounded Panayotis on the carriage and walked all the way to Afanya (Gazikoy) in search of the `nurse`...

The `nurse` was the young girl of 20 who was not a nurse – she was the daughter of Dervish from the Afanya village and when her sisters came running and saying `The angurukya man is here!` she ran to the elementary school to look into the eyes of Panayotis, wounded and in pain and try to treat his wound...

The girl looked at the wound of Panayotis – it looked real bad… From the front, there was just a small bullet hole but at the back, where the bullet came out, it looked bad – the hole at the back was as big as it would fit her fist… But she tried her best to treat the wounds of Panayotis, to try to stop the pain…

There were people from other villages as well like Angastina… One young boy, with long hair, sitting with his jeans on the floor… He was a student, barely 16 or 17… He was not wounded, just arrested… He looked different because he had sports shoes and jeans on… And others the girl did not know…

One very young girl, barely 12 maybe, was running in the yard and throwing herself from wall to wall… She had a wound on her hip but she would not allow anybody to approach her. She was like a wild animal, locked up in a cage except she was not locked up, just wild…

So the daughter of Dervish, who was not a nurse but who wanted to help was acting like a nurse, she approached also her – she calmed the young girl, speaking softly to her, taking her in her arms and letting her cry… Finally the girl showed her wound to her and let her try to treat it… They told the daughter of Dervish that the mother of this girl was killed in front of her eyes, that’s why she must have gone crazy… Perhaps she was raped as well? Nobody knew… Years later, she would find out that this particular young girl was still being treated in a mental hospital, never being able to recover from the shock and traumas of war…

Next day, when the daughter of Dervish went to the primary school, she could not find Panayotis there…

The father of Panayotis, Nikos, had begged her to take Panayotis to hospital in Nicosia:

`Come on my beautiful girl! Please! Take him to hospital! Please!`

But the daughter of Dervish had no mission, had no power, no car or access to bring Panayotis to hospital. But one of the Turkish Cypriots of Afanya told Nicos:

`You are lucky! Because there are some wounded Turkish Cypriots whom we will bring to the hospital in Nicosia. We can also send your son with them to the hospital!`

Nicos must have been so happy and relieved that his son would be treated! He didn’t know that, no one was taken to hospital – those who were taken would be killed and buried somewhere around Afanya…

At one point around 17 or 18 persons from Assia, who were prisoners of war in Afanya were taken by two Turkish Cypriots who came from another village, probably from Sinda (Inonu). They were taken to Strongilos (Turunclu) first, and then to Sinda (Inonu). Here at the `Direkli Magara` (The cave with the columns) they were shot and later buried at the `Beygirli Magara` (The cave with the horses). Years later, these bones would be taken out from where they were buried and taken all the way to Karpaz – at least these were the rumors in the village. That there was a big operation to `clean up the mass graves` and that one of them was this particular at `Beygirli Magara` (The cave with the horses) – a well-known fascist from Sinda (Inonu), whose name was also involved with the killing of the journalist Kutlu Adali, directed the operation of the `cleaning up of the bones` in the village. That the bones of these 17-18 people were taken all the way to Karpaz…

Other groups were put on maybe two buses because they numbered around 70 and taken to the Pavlides garage in Nicosia. But the policeman in charge of the garage refused to take them and they were taken back to Afanya… On the way back from Nicosia, on the road to Afanya, they were stopped by some soldiers – some Turkish Cypriots and some Turks – and told to get off the bus… They were taken to the famous `Tavukcu Ciftligi` (the Tavukcu Farm) and shot there, to be buried in more than six big wells…

Again the same story came up – that years later, there was a `clean-up` of these wells – a big operation to take out the bones from these wells and to bring them somewhere else – but this `somewhere else` is a place nobody knows for certain… There were rumors that all bones from these `clean-up` operations were brought just outside Kyrenia and buried in a military camp. That this area was fenced and no one could approach it – that it was under some kind of `protection`… Lots of rumors, so hard to tell what is `truth`…

I decided, after all, to meet someone from Afanya whose name was involved in the arrests of the Afanya and Assia Greek Cypriot prisoners of war, to find out what was the reason behind this massacre and all the rapes…

`But those to be raped were selected` he told me, without feeling… `Their relatives were well-known EOKA persons who had harassed Turkish Cypriots in the past…`

`What about the killings? What about this boy from Angastina? Look at his photo! He was barely 16 or 17, just a kid at school! He couldn’t have been involved with EOKA!`

`Yes but maybe his uncle was involved!`

`But why the 50 year old invalid blind woman was raped in Afanya?`

`In times of war, there are no more morals or ethics` he told me…

So no pretext except the mentality to support such acts!

`What happened to all those prisoners of war whom you had kept at the elementary school in Afanya?`

`They went to the `Tahtalikeuy`` he explained. `Tahtalikeuy` being a word used in Turkish, meaning `the place you go to after you die…`

`Some went to the Tahtalikeuy, some went back to the south…` he said.

`But why?`

`Because these were the orders… The Greek Cypriots had caught a Turkish officer and had tortured him, cutting off his organ and putting it in his mouth, shoving a bottle in him… When this was heard, then there was no more mercy…The commander told us `No more prisoners of war! Put them on the train to go to Tahtalikeuy!`

I had heard this story about the torture and killing of a top level Turkish officer in Lapithos or Kyrenia but could not confirm whether this had anything to do with the mass killing of people in Assia-Afanya.

There were other stories, other pretexts I heard from other people… That when they heard about the massacre of Tochni and the rape and killing of all the women and children in Maratha-Aloa-Sandallaris, they decided to kill their prisoners of war as revenge! But the dates did not appear to be matching – Tochni where two busloads of Turkish Cypriots were massacred in Paladya military camp had happened on the 15th of August 1974 – only one person remained to tell the story and it had taken him time to tell his story because he was hiding from the killers. It must have taken around a week for the Tochni massacre to be known at somewhere like Afanya or Sinda… As for the Maratha-Sandallaris massacre, the mass graves were discovered much later, at the beginning of September. But the prisoners of war in the Afanya Elementary School disappeared around the 17th of August, 1974…At least this is the date given by the relatives of the `missing` from Assia and Afanya… Maybe more work needs to be done to find out, what actually triggered this particular massacre… If there was going to be a massacre, why were these prisoners of war put on buses and sent to Pavlides garage in Nicosia? There is no logic in this, if there was an intention to kill. So something `dramatic` must have happened to trigger this massacre. Was it really the Tochni massacre or Maratha-Sandallaris or the torture and killing of a top Turkish officer that triggered all of these? Or was it just the plain mentality of the leadership of the village or the army in the village at that time? A woman from Afanya told me, `Don’t search for dramatic reasons… You should have seen some of the villagers… My father was ashamed and we were ashamed with what they were doing… It was as though overnight they had become monsters! They were going round, raping, killing and stealing! Not only them but some other people from surrounding villages were actively involved! My father was so afraid and so ashamed with what was going on that he sent us to Nicosia, to be away from all of these things…`

Nobody knows and nobody has clear answers…

Only rumors, only `guesses` about what might have happened…

Perhaps over time, these `answers` would drop in our laps out of nowhere because this is always what happens when you wait long enough for the `truth` to come out… For the moment, there is no `friendly atmosphere` for the `truth` to come out but over time, this will change because nothing can remain a `taboo` forever…

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