|Monday, 4 December 2023|
UNFICYP: THE DEMONSTRATION OF 14 AUGUST 1996
From: Panayiotis Zaphiris <pzaphiri@Glue.umd.edu>
THE DEMONSTRATION OF 14 AUGUST 1996
The United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has completed its review of the events surrounding the demonstration of Wednesday, 14 August 1996. the facts that have emerged are as follows:
On Wednesday 14 August, about 3000 people and some 500 motorcyc- lists attended in Paralimni the funeral of Anastasios Isaak who had been killed by a group of Turkish Cypriots during the demon- strations in Dherinia the previous Sunday (see UNFICYP press release of the demonstrations of 11 August).
After the funeral service, at about 1345 hrs, some 200 motorcyc- lists and a number of vehicles arrived at the northern outskirts of Dherinia where members of Cypol had been stationed. As during the events on Sunday, Cypol was not effective in preventing the demonstrators form entering the United Nations Buffer Zone (UNBZ). Some 150 Greek Cypriots passed the police line and out- flanked the UNFICYP troops deployed inside the UNBZ.
As the Greek Cypriot demonstrators made their way into the UNBZ, Turkish Forces and Turkish Cypriot military and police, which until then had remained out of sight, deployed in full view and in added strength along the TF CFL. UNFICYP requested both Turk- ish Forces and Turkish Cypriots military and police to exercise restraint and not to over-react. It also reminded them that UNFI- CYP has sole responsibility to deal with incursions into the buffer zone and that there must be no interference.
By 1420 hours, some 200 Greek Cypriots were inside the UNBZ, but UNFICYP was in control of the situation. The demonstrators were being rounded up and moved out of the UNBZ. The main group of Greek Cypriots were no closer than about 30 metres from the Turk- ish Forces Cease-Fire Line (TF CFL).
At about that time, a Greek Cypriot male, later identified as Solomos Spyrou Solomou, broke free from the main group and ran towards the Turkish Cypriot check point. He was chased by two UNFICYP soldiers, who caught up with him at the guard post, but the demonstrator broke free and began to climb a flag pole which was flying the Turkish flag just inside the Turkish Cypriot check point. The UNFICYP soldiers were pursuing him a few feet behind.
Solomou was some 3 metres off the ground (less that a fourth of the way to the top of the flag pole), when he was shot by a Turk- ish or Turkish Cypriot soldier and fell to the ground with blood flowing profusely from his neck (the autopsy revealed that Solo- mou was hit by five bullets). Turkish or Turkish Cypriot soldiers then proceeded to fire some 25 to 50 rounds indiscriminately into the crowd inside the buffer zone. The whole incident was wit- nessed by the UNFICYP Force Commander and the Commanding Officer of the Austrian Battalion who were in the UNBZ some 35 metres from the TF CFL. They observed uniformed Turkish or Turkish Cypriot military personnel kneeling down and firing in the direc- tion of the demonstrators inside the UNBZ.
As a result of the indiscriminate shooting by Turkish or Turkish Cypriot soldiers, two British UNFICYP soldiers were shot from behind and two Greek Cypriot civilians were also hit by gunfire. Three were inside the buffer zone and one of the civilians, who sustained a serious gun shot wound to the abdomen, was standing outside the UNBZ close to the National Guard checkpoint. During the demonstration, two Cypol officers and five Greek Cypriot civilians suffered non-gunshot related injuries.
The Force Commander of UNFICYP accompanied by the Chief of Staff met with the Commander of the Turkish Forces in Cyprus late in the afternoon of 14 August to strongly protest the totally unwar- ranted use of force by Turkish or Turkish Cypriot military per- sonnel which resulted in the killing of Solomou and in injuries to two peacekeepers and two civilians.