Three generations of the people of Louroujina met at Pyla in a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness.

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An emotional moment for these two old friends and for those who witnessed this encounter
Photographed by: Nicos Anastasiou

These two sweet old men are trying to recognise each other. "So you are...", "yes..., and you?". A friendly conversation then followed.
Photographed by: Nicos Anastasiou 

A group of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots of the village of Louroujina at Pyla
Photographed by Soner Arifler
January 27 2002. Pyla.

Depicting a group of people waiting for the meeting to start.
Photographed by: Soner Arifler January 27 2002. Pyla

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Within the framework of Co-Villagers Project Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots of the Village of Louroujina met last Sunday, January 27 2002 in Pyla at Mustafa's Cyprus House restaurant. About 150 villagers attended this re-union meeting. This figure was far above the expected number and the meeting place proved to be too small for this number of people. The restaurant had two dinning rooms. One large and one small one. There was a door connecting the two. Both rooms were packed with people who came for this gathering.

There was a long period of getting to know who was who or recognising each other by references to their parents or grandparents. There were many scenes of emotional encounters. People embracing and kissing each other. One could not tell the difference between a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriots. Among those present was the Mayor of Yermasoyia, Panikkos Louroutziatis. His grand father was from Louroujina. Alkan Cannur the mayor of Louroujina was also present. Papamichael's(the last priest of the village) three daughters, and his grand children found their way to meet their fellow villagers whom they had not met for nearly 45 years. In 1958 Greek Cypriots of the village were forced out of their houses and sent to the neighbouring village of Lympia on the orders of TMT, the Turkish Resistance Organisation. The priest and a couple of other fellow villagers used to visit Louroujina until 1963. Thereafter the village became isolated from the neighbouring villages.

Organisers of this event as well as other villagers spoke and said few words about their good times as well as bad times they shared in the past. Three languages, namely, English, Turkish and Greek were used. It was interesting to find that there were people instantly translating from one language to another. Also there were many Turkish Cypriots who could speak Greek fluently.

The spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness was very evident throughout the meeting. The villagers applauded vigorously when the Turkish Cypriot contact person finished his speech by saying "We have to focus our attention and efforts on the similarities and NOT on the differences. Yes, it is true we all experienced bitterness and pain. Many of us suffered a great deal. We have to address these experiences, but let us forgive each other in the name of humanity and reconciliation."

Then, Panicos Louroujatis, the mayor of Yermasoyia and Alkan Cannur, the mayor of Louroujina, were asked to address the meeting. Both said few words and welcomed all those who came for this gathering.

A couple of people from both sides also said few words. a Turkish Cypriot at one point in his speech asked: "You were living at the neighbouring village of Lympia when your village Louroujina was under fire by the Greek Cypriots of Lympia. Why, then, did you not prevent them from shelling your village?" This remark was observed to be resented by both TCs and GCs. At this point the TC contact person for this event took the floor again and said: "Please do not resent what our fellow TC villager drew our attention to. However painful our past experiences were, we have to address them. But please remember as I mentioned in my earlier speech, we forced these people out of their houses, put them in a village bus and sent them to Lympia. Recall that on the Turkish Cypriot side TMT and on the Greek Cypriot side EOKA were in control of everything. Orders given by these organisations had to be carried out without any question or any objection whatsoever. Otherwise one had to face a severe punishment. One might even be shot for disobeying orders. The important point is though to mutually forgive each other. What we need is time, patience, mutual respect, understanding and forgiveness. let us go along with the example of friendly relations recently developed between the peoples of Turkey and Greece and work for building a peaceful Cyprus for all of us."

Many people stayed till late and found it difficult to part from each other. Tables were set up and nearly half of those who came for this gathering sat together to eat. Some enjoyed their delicious kebabs and some their fish dishes, but most of all they enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the sincere conversation which went around the tables.

Meanwhile a coordinating committee for Louroujina was formed to decide what to do next.

31 January 2002

Please click the following URLs to read what Nicos Anastasiou wrote about this event. Nicos Anastasiou is a coordinator of bicommunal activities.

http://www.peace-cyprus.org/VillagersMeeting/Louroujina/

 

http://www.tech4peace.org/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=931

 
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