Background of the peaceful protest
On August 2, 1996 a group of over one hundred Cypriot and European motorcyclists set off from Berlin's Brandenbourg Gate on a long and peaceful ride through many countries of Europe, heading to Cyprus. Their stated aim was to draw the world's attention to the Turkish occupation of part of the territory of Cyprus, the artificial division of the island since 1974, and the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Cyprus, and in particular of their right to move freely throughout their country.
The motorcyclists' rally was organized by the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation in collaboration with the European Federation of Motorcyclists.
Turkey prepares for the atrocities
On the day the planned demonstration was announced, the Turkish side announced that it would be organizing «counter rallies,» with the participation of the Turkish extremist «Grey Wolves» group. It threatened that the Greek Cypriot and other demonstrators would be fired upon if they proceeded with their demonstration.
According to Turkish press reports and other reliable information, preparations for a violent reaction and organized violent counter demonstrations began immediately. The aim was to fabricate the impression that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots cannot live peacefully together, and therefore to support Turky's allegation that the presence of the Turkish occupation troops on the island is necessary:
The following preparative acts took place by the Turkish occupation forces:
Consultations of the Government of Cyprus
As the motorcyclists moved through Europe on their way to Cyprus, they were joined by hundreds of European motorcyclists. Many more were expecting them at Limassol Port for the final leg of the journey.
Throughout this period, the Government of Cyprus and the competent authorities were monitoring the developments and were in constant consultation with UNFICYP.
They continued to receive alarming additional information on Turkish intentions and preparations, including a possible advancement of Turkish occupation troops into the buffer zone which is monitored by UNFICYP.
Several meetings between the Government and the organizers of the rally took place. Finally, on Sunday, August 11, the morning of the day of the last stage of the rally, an urgent meeting was held, under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic, in which members of the government, high-ranking police officers, as well as the president of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation participated. After a thorough and in-depth examination of the situation, as it developed, and taking seriously into consideration the urgent appeal of the U.N. Secretary-General, who expressed his grave concern over the danger of violations of the cease-fire, it was decided to cancel the final part of the rally.
The organizers of the rally agreed to this decision. At the same time, however, individual motorcyclists and other civilians, acting spontaneously, proceeded to various points along the buffer zone and peacefully protested the violation by the Turkish occupation troops of their right of freedom of movement throughout Cyprus.
The first murder
The reaction of the Turkish side was brutal and violent, resulting in the death of a 24-year old demonstrator and the injury of 40 additional demonstrators.
The Turks, in a premeditated and well-organized manner, brought by bus thousands of so-called «counter-demonstrators» to the cease-fire line under the control of the Turkish occupation forces, and proceeded to lure Greek Cypriot demonstrators into a conflict situation, subsequently using all and every form of violence against them. The results of the attacks against the unarmed and peaceful Greek Cypriot demonstrators, of unprecedented cruelty and brutality, were witnessed by the whole world through the international media present at the scene. Anastassios Isaac, the 24-year-old Greek Cypriot, was caught in barbed wire and clubbed and beaten to death by the so-called «counter-demonstrators.» It is to be noted that the Turkish intent of luring the Greek Cypriot demonstrators into conflict situations is simply demonstrated, among other things, by the Turkish decision to use «blue beret» troops, easily confused with U.N. troops, along the cease-fire line.
The brutality with which an unarmed young demonstrator was beaten to death, the firing by the Turkish forces at peaceful demonstrators in the buffer zone, and the employment of terrorist groups from Turkey to counter the demonstrators -- an act that constitutes the introduction of terrorism with far-reaching consequences not only for Cyprus but for the whole region -- constitute additional proof of Turkey's contempt for all forms of civilized behavior among nations and for international law.
The «Grey Wolves» as described in the Turkish Cypriot press itself
The Turkish Cypriot press confirmed the information concerning the arrival at the occupied part of Cyprus of members of the extremist terrorist Turkish organization code-named «Grey Wolves.» Under the banner headline «Grey Wolf Denktash,» YENI DUZEN (Aug. 13, 1996) wrote that those who arrived from various parts of Turkey marched to Denktash's residence shouting racist and fascist slogans. The newspaper confirms that they arrived in the occupied areas using as an excuse the peaceful motorcyclists' demonstration, and adds that they stirred up trouble and caused the escalation of the incidents. It emphasizes that Denktash remarkably «thanked them» for «extending their support.»
Similarly, ORTAM (Aug. 13, 1996) reports that Denktash, addressing the «Grey Wolves,» unvailed a direct threat against Cyprus: «The Greek Cypriots should sit and think. Only part of them [i.e., the Grey Wolves] came from Turkey. What shall we do if the whole of Turkey comes?»
It is worth noting that the Grey Wolves have been accused of assassinating, on July 6, 1996, the prominent Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali, because of his criticism of the Denktash regime and, more generally, of Turkey's policies in Cyprus.
The second murder
On August 14, 1996, the international community witnessed with shock the cold-blooded murder of a second Greek Cypriot by the Turkish occupation forces, that of the 26-year-old Solomos Solomou. Eleven more people sustained bullet wounds from indiscriminate fire by Turkish troops. Some of the injured, including a 59-year-old woman, were in serious condition. Two of those injured were members of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
This new and premeditated murder took place under the following circumstances: Following the funeral of Anastassios Isaac, a group of 100-150 demonstrators broke through the Cypriot police force lines and entered the buffer zone at the same point where the deceased was beaten to death three days earlier. All those who gathered in the buffer zone were unarmed and peacefully protested against the continuing occupation and violation of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots by Turkey, including the murder of Isaac.
Despite the fact that the demonstrators were within the buffer zone and were surrounded by members of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force, Turkish troops, using automatic weapons, fired upon them.
In a statement issued on August 14, 1996, the Secretary General of the United Nations expresses his grave concern over the excessive and indiscriminate use of force and the murders and injuries caused by Turkish troops. Furthermore, the U.N. Secretary General's Representative to Cyprus, Mr. Gustave Feissel, described as «totally disproportionate» the violence used by Turkey during these incidents. Mr. Feissel further stated that «we felt that the shooting [of Solomos Solomou] was totally unwarranted and inexcusable.» He emphasized that, although the Greek Cypriots had broken into the buffer zone, the U.N. was in control of the situation and was in the process of getting people out of the buffer zone when «out of the blue the Turkish soldiers started firing.» He also stated that UNFICYP was trying to take back Solomou when «for no reason whatsoever» the shooting began.
The Government of Greece condemns in the strongest possible way the criminal behavior of the Turkish side and its puppet regime in the occupied part of Cyprus, which has resulted in the cold-blooded murders of two young and unarmed civilians within a period of four days.
The Government of Greece calls upon all members of the international community, both individually and collectively, to condemn categorically these barbaric acts aimed at the people of Cyprus but also at all civilized societies.
Furthermore, it reiterates its request for their active support in seeking a just, viable, and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem that will end the illegal Turkish occupation and restore the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots.
The Government of Greece, finally, reiterates its belief that the European Union, in view of its relations with Turkey, is in a position to play an active and positive role in the solution of the Cyprus problem and in securing Turkey's compliance with the United Nations resolutions on Cyprus.