April 1, 2023

By Margaret Sheard ….

Not being able to attend the Dawn Vigil at Escape Beach this year due to COVID-19, we reflected on previous years when we were able to go to Escape Beach and join with hundreds of Turkish Cypriots to celebrate the peace operation which finally gave freedom to the Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus.   

Chris Elliott and I as CyprusScene have been to the Dawn Vigil a number of times but this year due to Covid-19 we did not attend the celebrations on 19/20 July. We were delighted however  to see that the  TCGC-128 Landing Craft which landed 6 tanks and troops at Escape Beach on 20th July 1974 has been brought from Turkey and is now installed as a permanent reminder of the Cyprus Intervention that brought long lasting peace back to  Cyprus.

Below is the article I wrote following our visit on 19th/20th July 2014.

By Margaret Sheard……
Video by Chris Elliott……

47 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.

Below are photos and a video that Chris Elliott made for our 20th July 2014 Dawn Vigil article which we hope will convey the depth of sadness, but also joy and gratitude that is expressed for those martyrs who paid the ultimate price to ensure peace returned to Cyprus.

“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 severn 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

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