Excerpts from the speech by the General Secretary of AKEL A.Kyprianou at the event on the 16th June 1943 AKEL decision
Tuesday 16 June 2020 at 19:00, Heroes Square, Limassol
We have gathered here this year too, despite the difficulties, to honor one of the most historic decisions taken by our Party. The decision of the Central Committee of 16th June 1943.
On this historic day at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol, AKEL’s conference approved the list of 730 volunteers who would subsequently enlist in the battle against Hitler fascism. In all, 30,000 Cypriots joined the Cypriot Regiment from 1939 onwards whose contribution the young generations have a duty to honor and learn from.
The voluntary enlisting of the majority of our Party’s leadership in World War II was an anti-fascist act. An action in which the members of the Central Committee first and foremost participated. The then leadership of the Party showed by its example that it’s not enough for leaderships to take decisions; that leaderships themselves should pave the way for the implementation of decisions.
The decision of 16th June was the culmination of the anti-fascist activity developed by AKEL from its very first steps. Since its foundation, our Party has characterised itself as an anti-Hitler and anti-fascist Party. It didn’t confine itself to issuing declarations. Party cadres went all over Cyprus to enlighten the people about the danger of fascism and the need for the peoples to resist it.
AKEL connected the anti-fascist struggle with our people’s anti-colonial struggle. It submitted to the colonial government specific proposals for the active contribution of Cypriots to the anti-fascist struggle, stressing the need to end the British colonial regime of Governor Palmer. It called on the British colonialists to pledge themselves to granting independence to Cyprus after the war.
At the same time, our Party organized a campaign under the slogan “A day’s work for the defense of Cyprus”. It called on working people to work one day unpaid to raise money for Cyprus’ defence, in the event Hitler attacked our country. We all know how important one day’s wages were back then, as there are today too. Thousands of Cypriots responded to AKEL’s call and took part in the campaign.
None of these initiatives were easy to implement. Apart from the obstacles posed by the Palmer colonial regime, there was also the great difficulty of convincing Cypriots to join the anti-Hitler struggle together with the British colonialists. That is to say, with those who stubbornly refused to grant democratic rights and freedoms to the Cypriot people. However, the realization of the superior anti-fascist duty led the members and militants of AKEL to make the correct decisions.
From the very first moment of its establishment, AKEL took a stand against the war. It correctly understood the conditions and broader context in which the Cypriot people were called upon to wage their own battle for the freedom of their homeland. The decision of 16th June 1943 was another chapter in its anti-fascist activity. It was preceded by the voluntary participation of AKEL militants and members in the anti-fascist front in Spain.
Its political act of calling on its cadres and members to volunteer combined the anti-fascist war with the anti-colonial liberation movement, which, on AKEL’s initiative, assumed mass dimensions after World War II.
The decision of 16th June 1943 is therefore a consequence of AKEL’s character and identity. This was a decision of historical importance for both the Party, but also for Cyprus. It marked the struggle of the Cypriot people not only against fascism, but as the text of the decision itself said, “For the liberation of Greece from Hitler’s tyranny, the liberation of the enslaved countries and the safeguarding of the national, political and social future of the country”. This decision honored and honors Cyprus, the Cypriot people and AKEL.
On the battlefield, AKEL volunteers fought fascism, but also took the initiative to enlighten their comrades-in-arms. They cultivated anti-fascist consciousness among their fellow soldiers. They took the lead so that soldiers could be treated with dignity and respect by their superiors. They organized educational and cultural events. They built bridges of communication with the international anti-fascist Movement.
In doing so, the volunteers of AKEL turned the war from which many AKEL cadres and militants graduated who subsequently were at the forefront in the years that followed of the anti-colonial struggle of Cyprus and the big social and class struggles.
At the end of the war, the British colonialists refused to demobilize the Cypriot volunteers. However, they came up against the dynamic movement for soldier’s demobilisation organized by the AKEL militants. The British colonialists shot and killed comrade Takis Kythreotis and imprisoned hundreds of our comrades in the concentration camps in Egypt. However, they did not manage to dampen the determination of the cadres and members of AKEL.
We are proud that our Party has made its own contribution to the great anti-fascist victory of the peoples.
We are proud that AKEL honored and honors in practice its character both back then, during the summer of 1974 against the fascist coup d’état and Turkey’s invasion and today.
We are proud, but also determined to reaffirm in practice every day that we are the strongest bulwark against neo-fascism, nationalism and chauvinism.
As AKEL, we honor such historic decisions of our Party so that they remind us of the obligation we have to cultivate the unity of the people against the ideological concepts of hatred.
To remind us that we must intensify the anti-fascist struggle of our people, within the context of a broad popular front of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
To remind us that the solution of the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our country is the only way to leave nationalism and neo-fascism behind us forever.
We are not done with fascism and nationalism. We see today, here in our country that has suffered so much that is home to refugees, the phenomena of neo-fascism and nationalism escalating. We have seen the far-right attack refugees. The ultra-right’s intimidation and terror is directed against everyone. We must always remember this. Really, why, although they decided to imitate thugs in Chloraka to impose supposedly law and order, did they not do so in Yeroskipou, where the Archdiocese has been threatening to build over important archeological monuments of the Hellenistic period so that it can proceed with its business developments? They want to supposedly combat “crime” caused by “foreigners”, probably because they want to have the monopoly in combating crime.
There are quite a few far-right leading officials who have been arrested in recent years for suspicious activities with the underworld. Worst of all, they are spreading the poison of racism and nationalism in Cypriot society. They will not succeed. AKEL, every democratic and rational person who loves peace and Humanity will always stand in their way.
Honoring the decision of 16th June 1943, we continue to struggle for peace in Cyprus, for peace in the world.
Until the day Humanity defeats the past, when it will defeat fascism once and for all and turn the page to the future.
The future of peace, justice and socialism.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
- Feb26 2015-02-26
- Nov13 2014-11-13