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Media Watch 2005

01 April 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Leo Leonidou
Comment: The following letter appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 1 April 2005.
Cyprus celebrates start of EOKA struggle
"VETERANS of EOKA, the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters, will today celebrate the anniversary of the start of the uprising from British colonial rule, with a series of events in the capital."

VETERANS of EOKA, the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters, will today celebrate the anniversary of the start of the uprising from British colonial rule, with a series of events in the capital.

At 10am, there will be a church service at Ayios Ioannis cathedral, followed by a ceremony at the Tombs of the Heroes at Nicosia Central Prisons at 11am.

There will be festivities at Eleftheria Stadium, beginning at 4pm, including a theatre production, speeches and a parade of EOKA fighters.

An EOKA veterans’ spokesman said there “would also be the singing of EOKA songs”.

The day will end at EOKA headquarters in Strovolos with a cocktail party, which is open to the public.

EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston) was a Greek Cypriot organisation that fought for the end of British colonial rule on the island, for self-determination and for union with Greece in the mid to late 1950s.

The organisation was headed by George Grivas, a Cyprus-born Colonel in the Greek army who distinguished himself during World War II and fought in the subsequent Greek civil war. Grivas assumed the ‘nom de guerre’ Digenis in honour of the Byzantine legend Digenis Akritas, who repelled invaders from the Byzantine Empire during the middle ages. EOKA was clandestinely supported by the Greek government in the form of arms, money and propaganda on radio stations aired from Athens.

Its guerrilla campaign began on April 1, 1955 when the group targeted British military and civilian installations on the island. It later also targetted Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot collaborators and informants.

April 1 is now a national holiday. It is celebrated in memorial services in churches and gatherings in cities and villages in the free parts of Cyprus.

Over 30,000 British troops were assigned to combat the organisation, which officially claimed the lives of 104 British military personnel. However, it is widely believed that the true reflection of British soldiers, administrators and police personnel lost is at least three times that number. EOKA’s activity lasted until December 24, 1959 when a ceasefire was agreed, with the Zurich agreement that paved the way for independence.

EOKA’s aim to rid Cyprus of British rule was met when on August 16, 1960, when Cyprus achieved independence from the United Kingdom. However, its primary aim of enosis, union with Greece, was denied, sowing the seeds of instability in the new Republic. A successor organisation, EOKA B, again led by Grivas, undermined the new state, with the support of the right-wing military junta in Greece, conducting attacks on government targets, left-wingers and Turkish Cypriots, that eventually led to the 1974 coup."