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Media Watch 1940-1998

29 July 1974
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Author: By A J McILROY in Kyrenla
Comment:
KNOCK AT DOOR – THEN 'TURKS SHOT MY HUSBAND’


A LONDON housewife yesterday described how she watched Turkish soldiers line up seven unarmed Greek Cypriot men and shoot them dead with pistols. It happened after the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus when she ran and hid for 72 hours to save herself and her four-year-old son. 

Mrs Margaret Gavrielides, 36, of Streatham Hill, whose Greek husband, Vrasidas, 45 is a tax accountant in London, is among more than 600 refugees, most of them Greek, held by the Turks under United Nations supervision in the Dome Hotel at Kyrenia.  

After she had sent her son, Andrew, to play with other children “because I don’t want him to have to be reminded of what happened,” Mrs Gavrielides said: “I was staying on holiday with my husband at the Klearchos Hotel, some six miles outside Kyrenia, with three other English couples. 

“On the Saturday morning at 5.50 my husband went to the window of our room and said “My God, they are bombing Kyrenia.’ We saw the smoke, We took what we could and carried Andrew out of the hotel. 

“We saw the bombs falling from the Turkish jets as we ran into the bushes. We lay down. I was terrified and my husband shouted we had better run again because be had seen the big ships turning and ready to bomard us. 

The shelling started and we got separated from the others. We don’t know what happened to them and I think now that my husband is dead. But that happened later. 

‘We found a place to hide in the lemon groves. The shells were coming and it was so noisy. We found a house while others passed us and ran on towards the hills. Because of Andrew we decided to stay in the house. 

“There was food and water, and next morning we heard sounds of stamping feet and a knock on the door, on which we had hung a Union Jack to show we were British. 

‘Pieces of arm blown away’ 

“My husband opened the door and they shot him. I saw pieces of his arm and shoulder blown away. The blood poured out and when I told them I was British they let me bandage his wound. But the blood was all over me. 

“The soldiers were still advancing and those who shot my husband left us. We got outside into the lemon groves again, sat down and he was in a bad way. 

Some old women, Greeks, came and there was water and grapes. Some Greek men came too and the English-speaking Turkish officer was good to us. But he went away and other soldiers came. They walked over to us clicking their fingers as they walked. 

“They got the men out and lined them up. Six or seven of them, there were. I knew what was going to happen and I turned Andrew away, The soldiers – no officer was there – took out their pistols and shot the men dead, 

“I could not stop there. I saw them aim at me as I ran away with my boy. I threw myself down to try to hide and was separated from my husband, The Turkish soldiers motioned me to come back. 

“I saw someone lifting a gun, to aim, but we ran on and I lost contact with my husband. I haven’t heard from him since. 

“I knew Turkish soldiers were near. I could hear them and see their boots through the undergrowth . 

“I decided then I had to try to get back to the hotel. We went towards the town and almost reached the hotel when we heard the sound of the heavy march of soldiers and I thought I could go no longer. 

“There was an outburst of firing from the shore and I knew they were trying to clear out any snipers from the groves. A Commander in a camouflaged helmet saw us and I shouted ‘please God help us, I am English.’ 

He came towards us and then into the hotel himself to find our passports, 

“I kept thinking about my husband as I tidied Andrew up, Then by stages they got us through by jeep to Turkish marines and then to the United Nations, who brought us.”