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An emotional moment for these two old friends and for
those who witnessed this encounter
Photographed by: Nicos Anastasiou
two sweet old men are trying to recognise each other. "So you
are...", "yes..., and you?". A friendly conversation then
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
related to this event >>
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.