By Margaret Sheard….
Video by Chris Elliott….
As last year in 2013, I again made the trip to Erenkoy on Friday 8th August which on this occasion was the 50th anniversary of those lost at the siege of Erenkoy in 1964. It is hard to believe that 50 years have passed and there is still bitterness and a divided island.
I have made my home in North Cyprus, the so-called “occupied” area of Cyprus and I made it my home because I love the tranquillity and beauty of the area and the people who reside in it. I try to put the age-old dispute at the back of my mind but it is difficult when it is still thought by the world at large that everything started when Turkey intervened on 20th July 1974 when in actual fact many years prior to this in the 1950’s there was conflict between the Greeks, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and I, and many others, want to see an end to it.
I support the Turkish Cypriots in their struggle for recognition and why shouldn’t they commemorate their fallen countrymen as do the Greek Cypriots commemorate theirs. Erenkoy is but just one of the commemorations by the Turkish Cypriots but sadly it is overshadowed by suspicion and resentment because of its location. Where else in the world do you have to go through a border control and be escorted by local police and the UN to a cemetery to show your respects for young men who lost their lives?
So along with the many Turkish Cypriots and many other nationalities, myself and my partner made the journey to pay our respects to the fallen who have given us a beautiful country to live in, albeit embargoed and only recognised by Turkey. Shame on the world which still turns its back.
The day itself was very hot and windy but on arrival at Erenkoy there was the usual peaceful yet emotional atmosphere as hundreds of people arrived, I am told in some 120 coaches which came from various parts of the TRNC, meeting in Yeşilirmak and continuing in convoy to reach their destination. At around 09.30 two helicopters arrived carrying the dignitaries who would be representing the TRNC for the commemoration. As President Eroğlu was away in Turkey he was represented by Sibel Siber – the Speaker of the House, and she was accompanied by Prime Minister – Özkan Yorgancıoğlu, former President – Mehmet Ali Talat and other dignitaries and we were also pleased to see Jimmy Keço, the President of the Erenkoy Freedom Fighters Association, who does such a magnificent job in arranging this annual commemoration.
The wreaths were laid with full military honours followed by the last post, a gun salute and the national anthem and then there were one or two speeches made. Following the ceremony the dignitaries visited the relatives at the gravesides of some of the young men who had lost their lives.
When we visited last year I spent a long time talking to a lady from Turkey whose brother had died at Erenkoy in 1964 and she makes the pilgrimage every year. She was there with other family members at the grave of her brother and I was able to say hello to her later when all the formalities had been completed. A very emotional time for this lady and her family.
We started walking along the road to the area where the military were providing lunch for the hundreds of visitors who queued in orderly fashion and the whole exercise was conducted very efficiently. Having collected our food we wandered over to the huge seating area where a military band was playing. This was later followed by groups of folk dancers in national costume who did many variations of traditional dance which was very enjoyable.
Eventually we made our way back to the car park and spent rather a long time searching for our mini-bus and after several circuits of the car park we eventually found it and settled down for the long journey back to Alsancak where we had met the mini-bus.
We picked up our car and made the rest of the journey home tired, weary and very dusty but feeling very pleased that we had been able to make the journey to Erenkoy again this year.
Erenkoy, the truth is told – To see the video made last year and to read more of last year’s in depth article please click here