Speech by AKEL Political Bureau member Stefanos Stefanou at the event in memory of the hero Costas Misiaoulis
16th July 2020, Municipality of Tseri, Nicosia
In this area, on the night of 17th July 1974, one of the many heinous crimes of the coupists was committed. Costas Misiaoulis, a brave young man member of AKEL and EDON, who had been arrested along with other members of AKEL by EOKA B, was shot dead in cold blood.
All of them had been arrested because of their beliefs and because they were members of AKEL, who belonged to the Left and actively supported the lawful state and the elected President of the Republic of Cyprus, Makarios. For the coupists, this was a crime and that is precisely why one of their main missions during the coup was the annihilation of AKEL through the mass arrests of its militants and members.
They broke into houses like thieves and arrested innocent citizens in front of their families, citing various lies. Even when the coup had prevailed, the coupists didn’t dare tell the truth as they were arresting the people of the Left.
In the case of Costas Misiaoulis, they said that they were looking for weapons which the hero had supposedly hidden in his house. As Costas’s wife, Chrystalla, testified, “It was around 11 p.m. We heard knocks on the door and when we opened our door we found ourselves facing three or four armed men, who were dressed in military uniforms. All the gunmen approached my husband to arrest him because, as they said, there was a suspicion that we had weapons. They took my husband along with others from our village who had been arrested and were forcing them to shout “Long live Nikolaos Sampson”, “Long live union with Greece”… They led them to the village square. I constantly heard gunshots and the noises of cars heading towards the area of “Kokkines”. After a while I heard gunshots again. I saw my late husband on 21st July 1974 injured in the hospital of Nicosia. As soon as I approached him, he told me: “Did you hear what they’re saying – that I went to escape and they then shot me? I then told him: “They told us that they shot you by mistake” and he replied: “They shot me intentionally”.
On 23rd July 1974, we were notified that my husband had died the day before. We brought him to Tseri and buried him in the afternoon”.
The assassination of Costas Misiaoulis is one of the very few heinous crimes – possibly the only one – where one of the protagonists was tried and convicted, albeit belatedly and after many efforts by his family and AKEL, which on the initiative the then General Secretary of the Party Ezekias Papaioannou, raised the issue in Parliament.
On 23rd May 1980, Yiorgos Rossides, a shopkeeper from Agios Dometios, was convicted not of premeditated murder, but of homicide. The sentence was 15 years in prison. A second defendant, Sotiris Dimitriades from Psimolofou, was acquitted. A third suspect in the assassination of Costas after the Turkish invasion fled to Greece and although his extradition was requested by the Republic of Cyprus, this never happened.
Four years after the conviction, Yiorgos Rossides was granted a pardon by the then President of the Republic Spyros Kyprianou, which provoked a storm of reactions. In a relevant telegram sent to the President of the Republic by Ezekias Papaioannou, he wrote the following:
“With feelings of indignation and anger, the democratic Cypriot people were informed of the decision to cut ten and a half years from the sentence of Yiorgos Rossides, the murderer of Costas Misiaoulis in the treacherous coup. The Central Committee of AKEL denounces in the strongest possible terms this scandalous decision that is a provocation for our people, demands its revocation, the opening of the Cyprus File and the exemplary punishment of the leaders of the criminal coup which opened the backdoor of Cyprus to the Turkish army Attila”.
Not only was the decision not revoked, but the Cyprus File was not opened either. There was not even a purge (catharsis), a strong demand of the Left. Instead of purging the coupists, the decision was taken to dismiss 62 people from the public service, but during Glafkos Clerides’ government, they returned to their posts, retroactively receiving all the salaries and benefits they received as public employees.
The crime of the coup, which led to the destruction of Cyprus with a carnage of dead, thousands of injured, refugees, war-stricken people and the enclaved people in the occupied areas, went unpunished. Exploiting this impunity, the Right and the ultra-Right all these years have been desperately trying to silence or falsify the historical truth. Their attempt is not accidental. The historical truth identifies and points out the grave responsibilities of the Right and ultra-Right for the Cyprus tragedy. The historical truth completely refutes the ideological and political illusions upon which the Right based its fundamental political choices, leading the country on dangerous paths. The historical truth reveals the Right’s bad relationship with democracy. It highlights the enormous responsibilities of NATO to which the Cypriot Right swears faith and obedience.
The safeguarding of the historical truth is imperative and an absolute necessity for our people’s survival. It is, first and foremost, in honor and a duty to all those who fought, sacrificed themselves and suffered fighting against fascism and the terror unleashed by the illegal armed organisation EOKA B; a duty to all the resistance fighters against the coup and to all those who courageously confronted the Turkish invading army to save our homeland.
The preservation of the historical truth is an indispensable element for the correct orientation of our people’s struggle. Those who know the historical truth cannot be misled by false and big talk, by unfeasible and dangerous goals that were widely used by so-called “national-minded patriots”. Historical truth creates resistance to nationalism, bigotry and anti-communism, which our country and people have paid such a heavy price for.
An effective way to preserve historical truth is to convey all historical the knowledge and experience from those who lived these events themselves to the young generation. Our duty is to pass this knowledge and experience on from the older to the younger generations. We mustn’t lose sight of this duty over the years. Historical memory mustn’t be erased. This is what the Right and ultra-Right are seeking to do by silencing or falsifying facts or even giving them other interpretations. This is what they do, for example, with the coup which, from an act of high treason, they reduce to a “civil war” and “discord”.
The historical truth lives on in the numerous and indisputable historical documents that from time to time see the light of day. The historical truth lives in the two Cyprus Files that were opened on the tragedy of Cyprus, one in the Greek Parliament and one in the Cypriot Parliament.
AKEL will continue to make use of the living experience, facts and numerous documents so that we never allow historical truth to be falsified and we seek to make it the property of society, especially of the young generation.
What do the documents related to the coup d’état prove?
Conclusion 1: This was not some accidental or isolated act by some mindless misled “patriots”. The coup was the first part of the NATO plan for the partition of Cyprus and its transformation into an unsinkable aircraft carrier to promote imperialism’s plans in the wider Middle East. The Turkish invasion was the second part of this plan. British and American imperialism tried by various means to impose its plans against Cyprus, but it failed. Makarios and the powerful AKEL did not permit imperialism’s plans to pass, utilising international support, primarily from the socialist community headed by the Soviet Union and the Non-Aligned Movement.
The turning point for the implementation of NATO plans was the Spring Summit of this imperialist alliance which convened in Lisbon in 1971. There, the junta of Greece and Ankara’s militarists, together with Britain and the United States, decided to finish with the Cyprus problem once and for all. A few weeks later, in August 1971, Grivas secretly came to Cyprus to establish the terrorist, fascist organization EOKA B. The aim of this illegal armed Organization was to provoke anomaly in Cyprus so as to prepare the ground for the extermination of Makarios. However, ousting the democratically elected President meant overthrowing the constitution, a development that would act as a pretext for Turkey to invade Cyprus, to supposedly restore order as a guarantor power.
But not just that. The coup facilitated Turkey’s invasion by disorganizing the defence of Cyprus. Units of the National Guard that had the order to defend Cyprus in the event of a Turkish invasion were subsequently ordered to move from the area of Kyrenia (where the Turkish army would land) to Paphos in order to exterminate Makarios. When the invasion began, the coupist leadership of the Cypriot National Guard prevented the organization of Cyprus’ defence, because – they said – the invasion was an “exercise”.
Conclusion 2: The coup was neither a foolish, nor a reckless act. It was high treason, in which Greeks (and not “Greek-speakers” like N. Anastasiades) junta and Cypriot EOKA B members played the leading role. None of the protagonists can claim that they were unaware of the consequences of their actions, since warnings of a Turkish invasion in the event of a coup were being made since the 1960’s. The suggestion that the coupists were “stupid” was invented to justify the betrayal committed. The claim that Cypriots did not take part in the coup is completely outrageous. There are thousands of testimonies about the terror and murderous actions of the Cypriot EOKA B members, who sought to impose the coup in the cities and villages. Costas Misiaoulis, his comrades, but also dozens of other militants and members of AKEL and other progressive people right here in the Municipality of Tseri were not arrested by unidentified flying objects…They were arrested by Cypriots who are well-known.
Conclusion 3: The coup was not a “civil war” and the result of “internal discord”, as the Right and the ultra-Right are claiming and which the government and DISY were once again claiming on this year’s anniversary. Defending the rule of law and democracy against the attempt to overthrow it cannot be viewed as the result of and is not down to “discord”. Discord, anger and indignation are caused by the ongoing attempts to equate the perpetrators with the victims, to equate illegal armed actions with the defenders of legality.
Discord, rage and indignation are caused when on the eve of the anniversary of the coup d’état, the government, governing DISY party, “Solidarity” party and the neo-Nazi and ultra-right formation of ELAM all lay laurel wreaths that are for heroes, on the graves of the commandos who attacked the Presidential Palace on 15th July 1974.
The coup and invasion, which are the two sides of the same NATO plan, aimed at the partition of Cyprus. Since 1974, our country has been de facto partitioned and our people have been divided. So long as this situation is perpetuated daily, the plans of the enemies of Cyprus and our people are being implemented gradually and steadily.
The only way to prevent imperialism’s plans is to put an end to the Turkish occupation and reunite our country and people with a solution.
Everyone is talking about a solution, even Turkey itself. The question is, what kind of a solution, what goal and what content are we seeking? AKEL seeks a solution that will terminate the Turkish occupation and reunite our country and people within the framework of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality as described by the relevant United Nations resolutions. This is the basis of a solution that the two sides have agreed to since 1977 and since then this has been confirmed by the Greek Cypriot side many times, while this solution has been adopted in dozens of UN resolutions.
Bi-zonal, bi-communal federation is the only available and feasible path to a solution that should liberate, reunite and restore the human rights and fundamental freedoms that have been violated by Turkey since 1974. The dilemma is not bi-zonal, bi-communal federation or any other solution. The option before us is either bi-zonal, bi-communal federation or partition. Partition means new adventures and dangers for our homeland and people.
Various people ask, how is it possible to negotiate and achieve a solution with the current government of Turkey, which is constantly threatening, proceeding to illegal actions and provoking us?
The answer to this question is simple: If we do not try to bring Turkey to the negotiating table, and that’s precisely where its intentions should be determined, no one can know whether it will eventually consent to a solution. If we have already decided that nothing is can be done about this and that there is no reason to engage in talks with Turkey, we are simply perpetuating a situation that suits Turkey’s plans anyway. If we continue the effort for a solution of the Cyprus problem, within the framework of what the UN Secretary General outlines in his last Reports, then we open up the prospect.
What the government therefore needs to do, is to take coherent and concrete initiatives to prepare the ground for the resumption of negotiations from the point where they had remained at Crans Montana following the voting process in the occupied territories. That should be the goal and the government must work without any regressions and ambiguities for fulfilling this goal.
The sacrifices made by our people will only be vindicated if the fait accompli caused by the twin crime of the coup and the invasion are reversed.
The relatives of the heroes will feel genuine relief and will finally rest their souls if we manage to deliver to the future generations what their beloved ones tried to protect with their struggles: the freedom of our homeland, lasting peace and normality. These can be ensured through the solution of the Cyprus problem. That is why we shall continue the struggle until we achieve it. We owe it to our heroes.
Costas Misiaoulis – Immortal!
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