President Ersin Tatar attended remembrance ceremonies with bereaved families of Turkish Cypriots who were massacred in the villages of Muratağa, Sandallar and Atlılar
“Our debt to our martyrs is to protect our Republic with the support of Motherland Türkiye.”
President Ersin Tatar attended the remembrance ceremonies for the Turkish Cypriots who were massacred in 1974 by Greek-Greek Cypriot forces in the villages of Muratağa, Sandallar and Atlılar.
The ceremonies were also attended by Parliamentary Speaker Zorlu Töre, ministers, deputies, Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces Commander Major General Sezai Öztürk, Security Forces Commander Major General Zorlu Topaloğlu, Association for the Remembrance of the Martyrs of Muratağa, Sandallar and Atlılılar chairman Ahmet Asır, Martyrs’ Families and Disabled Veterans Association chairman Gürsel Benan and relatives of martyrs attended.
The first ceremony was held at the Muratağa – Sandallar Martyrdom, which commenced with the laying of wreaths at the martyrs’ monument. This was followed by a minute of silence and a three-gun salute which was followed by the National Anthem as the flags of Türkiye and TRNC were hoisted.
President Tatar, who addressed the ceremony, said that the bereaved families who lost their loved ones, as well as the entire population of the TRNC “, continues to feel great pain with regards to the massacre that took place here”.
The President said that the “world witnessed the attacks and acts of genocide committed by Greek-Greek Cypriot military and police forces against Turkish Cypriot civilians in the Mesaoria Plain. Our people were murdered. I condemn the fact that nobody has ever been brought to justice for these crimes.”
Stating that Turkish Cypriots “suffered significantly” due to the aspiration of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo to annex the island with Greece, the President added: “Turkish Cypriots were expelled from the State apparatus by force of arms and our People endured a lot of pain and suffering facing abductions and attacks for 11 years from 1963. We sacrificed a lot and many of our people were martyred. However, what happened in Muratağa, Sandallar and Atlılar is a completely different event. Children, babies, women and the elderly were massacred and buried en masse. These atrocities can never be forgotten and shall never be forgotten,” he said.
On August 14, 1974, Greek-Greek Cypriot forces and members of the EOKA terrorist organisation from neighbouring villages attacked three Turkish villages called Muratağa, Sandallar and Atlılar in Cyprus, rounded-up 126 Turkish Cypriots and later massacred them and buried them alive inside a mass pit. The martyrs here were mostly women, children even babies, the youngest being 16-day-old Selden Ali Faik and the oldest 95-year-old Hüseyin Osman.
President Tatar stated that the debt owed to the martyrs is to “glorify the State and to protect and maintain the independence, freedom and sovereignty gained by the Turkish Cypriots”. He added that “independence, freedom and our State” emerged from the struggle of the martyrs.
Emphasising that with the second phase of the Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974, new borders were drawn in Cyprus and a new era began on the Island, President Tatar said that a settlement could be reached through the acknowledgment of the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot people, which is an inherent right. He added that a structured cooperative relationship would bring about sustainable peace and stability to the island and the region. “This is a vision which I have shared with the whole world,” the President said, adding that Greek Cypriot news reports were also being published with titles such as “unpunished murders” in relation to the massacres of Turkish Cypriot civilians in these villages.
“The perpetuators of these acts of barbarism are known. The murders in question were committed by Greek and Greek Cypriot military and police in front of the United Nations. Nobody has, however, ever been brought to justice. They should all be ashamed,” the President said.
Mr Asır, who also addressed the ceremony, said: “I did not think that human beings had the capability of committing such horrific crimes and atrocities. It is necessary to explain to the world what took place here and to future generations so that lessons can be learned. These need to be taught as our recent history in our schools.”
The ceremony concluded with a tour of the martyrdom and recitation of prayers.
This was followed by a second ceremony that was held at the Atlılar Martyrdom, which also commenced with the laying of wreaths at the monument, a moment of silence and a three-gun salute. This was followed by the playing of the National Anthem as the flags of Türkiye and TRNC were hoisted. The ceremony concluded with visits to the memorials of the martyrs and recitation of prayers.