Heritage

North Cyprus Dawn Vigil 2019 and Celebration

By Chris Elliott…..

This evening 19th July is a time for remembering and also for great joy in North Cyprus when the Dawn Vigil celebrations are held at Escape Beach, Alsancak and although we will not be attending, we have many never to be forgotten memories some of which we share below and also the video I made in 2014.

TRNC Dawn Vigil 2015

 By Margaret Sheard….

Strange coincidences sometimes occur and my mind went back to 2011 when, while making my way to the area of the Dawn Vigil, I tripped on the edge of the tarmac on the dark main road and broke 3 Dawn Vigiltoes so I spent the night sitting on the steps near the monument at Escape Beach watching the event from a distance.   At around the same time this year I had a telephone call from my sister and it was found that having suffered a fall at her home she had broken her thumb, so instead of heading for Escape Beach and the Dawn Vigil it was a visit to Dr Akcicek Hospital for emergency treatment for a very nasty looking piece of bone sticking out of a hole which was bleeding profusely.

In 2014 we did manage to attend the Dawn Vigil and stayed for the whole event of music and dancing followed by people moving to the beach area with torches and candles, a very moving experience, although extremely tiring staying awake for most of the night.

I looked at what I had written about the 2014 Dawn Vigil and it brought back a lovely memory of the occasion so I would like to share it again with our readers as shown below.

North Cyprus – Dawn Vigil 2014

By Margaret Sheard
Video by Chris Elliott

40 years have passed since Turkey, as a guarantor power, found it necessary to intervene with a peace operation to save the Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus.   Most people know, or do they? of the result of this intervention – a divided island, thankfully living peacefully but not as the united island of Cyprus that it should be.  Why is it so difficult for two peoples to live together as they did many years ago with no problem?  Most people, especially in Cyprus, know the answer but not all will accept the truth and move on.

On the 19th/20th July in North Cyprus many hundreds of people gathered at Escape Beach for a celebratory concert followed by making their way to the beach area with torches lit for the emotional and poignant celebration at 02.30 on the 20th July, the time of the Turkish Peace Intervention.  It also commemorates the Turkish forces and Turkish Cypriots who lost their lives in this peace and freedom movement.

During the whole evening, the Turkish and TRNC flags were being waved and there was such a wonderful feeling of togetherness, even as foreigners we felt a part of this momentous occasion, but then we do live here and now consider this to be our country as well.  The crowd was made up of the very young to the elderly and despite the huge numbers present everything was very orderly and friendly.

There was a brilliant concert with many artists performing, including Zuhal Olcay, Kurşat Başar, Ayşen and a display by some young folk dancers, there was also a rousing performance by the Janissary Band, which is always a very colourful and enjoyable event to watch.

At around midnight a lot of people were lighting their torches and making their way to the beach area where there were now not only flags still waving but the lovely sight of so many torches in the darkness.  There was another stage set up on the beach where speeches and commentaries were being made with film on the backdrop of many relevant moments. At this time there were prayers from a number Imams on the stage.  Not understanding Turkish too well, it is always difficult to follow but it did not deter from this wonderful occasion.   Again there were hundreds of people on the beach, many things going on in the stage area and then 02.30 arrived, again with prayers being chanted and the release of a number of white doves followed by a magnificent firework display which seemed to go on for a very long time.

By this time we were feeling very weary but thankfully there were no mishaps as had happened 3 years previously when I tripped on the edge of the road and consequently found I had broken 3 toes.  On that occasion we were not able to join in with the celebration but at least this year we were able to witness the whole event from start to finish.    We trudged up the very steep hill from Escape Beach feeling very tired but elated from the experience and made our way home.

Congratulations must be given to the organising committee for a wonderful 40th year celebration of the Peace Operation.

Chris had his own feelings about the occasion and said looking out into the darkness and seeing the shadows of one or two boats he was put in mind of video images many of us have seen of frightened young men tasked with a similar landing some of them with only minutes or maybe hours to live but in this instance their quest was to free the Turkish Cypriots from an oppressive regime and stop the bloodshed forty years ago, when no one else would step in and stop the madness.    He also said when we look at what is happening in Gaza or perhaps Ukraine and other trouble spots, has the world changed its attitude?……

Please note this video has also been uploaded to Youtube as “North Cyprus Dawn Vigil 20th July 2014