The biggest enemy of historical truth is first of all fear, says Toni Agastiniotis in his interview, and then oblivion. In 2004, Mr. Agastiniotis created the documentary “Voice of Blood & # 8211; In Search of Selten “, recording the crimes against Turkish Cypriot civilians in Maratha, Sandalari, Aloa and Tochni, on August 14, 1974, through the testimonies of the survivors of the massacre. Today he has published the book “It takes a thousand voices to tell a story”, which refers to what followed after the documentary, with surveillance, eavesdropping and threats to his life. “Like my work”, he states, “the Greek Cypriot nationalists did not like it, so the Turkish Cypriot nationalists did not like my writing, who at some point tried to throw us in the car…”.
What is the theme of your new book?
My book “It takes a thousand voices to tell a story” deals with the mass murder of Turkish Cypriot civilians in Maratha, Sandalari, Aloa and Tochni on August 14, 1974. Crimes that remained hidden under its carpet for years history, and which the majority of Greek Cypriots did not know. In 2004-5 I created the documentary “Blood Voice & # 8211; “Looking for Selten.” The documentary documented and documented these crimes with testimonies from slaughter survivors. The book deals both with the history of the crimes, but also with the adventurous course of the creation of the documentary and what followed, that is, how the creator and his work were treated in both communities. Also, through interviews with the political leaders of the time – Rauf Denktash and Glafko Clerides & # 8211; The historically prevailing political logics that led the Cyprus issue to the tragic point it is in today are becoming apparent.
The β & # 8217; part of the book includes a selection of my articles published in the period 2006-2008 in the newspaper “Africa”, and addresses key issues concerning Cyprus and the two communities.
What else does the reader discover? of the book?
You often hear the phrase “Yes, we did a lot…”. This abstract “we did”, through the pages of the book becomes specific. Who did them and what did they do? Not all of us did it, the whole Greek Cypriot community is not responsible for these crimes, just as the whole Turkish Cypriot community is not responsible for their own crimes. They are works of the patriots, of the chauvinists, whatever coat of arms they had in their beret. On the other hand, I quote in the book authentic military plans of the junta military leadership of the time, the “Hephaestus” plans. In these orders, which date 2-3 months before the coup and the invasion, there are clear orders for “cleansing of Turkish Cypriot enclaves and hearths”. In fact, the orders speak of psychological preparation and organization of the population of the nearby villages, to participate in the liquidations. Beyond the history of crime, the reader will find the political climate of the period after the opening of the roadblocks in 2003 and how the attempt to reconnect was dealt with, through my personal experiences.
The book “It takes a thousand voices to tell a story”.
“The then President of the Republic asked me to withdraw my documentary, as a condition to protect me from threats”
Is it easy for a writer to reveal the guilty secrets of a society? No consequences?
It is not easy, and especially after the rejection of the Annan plan and the surrounding atmosphere that prevailed at the time, an atmosphere that seems to be returning again. I had received many threats to my life, and to this day there are posts on social media asking for my head on a blackboard. Surveillance, wiretapping, threats were on the agenda. The then President of the Republic, Tassos Papadopoulos, asked me to withdraw my documentary, as a condition to protect me from threats. “Suits” were coming and going outside our house and they did not hesitate to introduce themselves as government officials. All this the reader will find descriptively described in the pages of the book.
“In 2004 I spoke on a live noon channel show in Istanbul, denouncing the rape of Turkish soldiers in Cyprus in 1974”
Have you also written about the crimes of Turkish Cypriot nationalism? b >
Many slander me that I am an instrument of the Turks, because I allegedly recorded these crimes, without referring to the crimes of the other side. As if for so many years, whenever a documentary was made about 1974 and the barbarities of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot chauvinists, they put together the barbarities of the Greek Cypriot chauvinists. My documentary came to add the omissions. If from the beginning they allowed these crimes to enter the historical narrative, instead of pointing fingers at me as a traitor, they would point to the eokavitatzides who committed these crimes. Unfortunately, with the oil industry, the political and physical perpetrators of the crimes managed to rise to power again and control the official narrative. In the second part of the book, the reader can see my article, in the column I had in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper “Africa”, where I often talked about the crimes of the Turks in Cyprus. In fact, in 2004 I spoke in Turkey on a live noon channel show in Istanbul, denouncing the rape of Turkish soldiers in Cyprus in 1974. In fact, we organized an event in 2005 with the “Alliance Stop the War” in occupied Nicosia, where I showed the documentary “Charita Mandoles stands next to me”, by Christos Siopahas.
Just as the Greek Cypriot nationalists did not like my work, so the Turkish Cypriot nationalists did not like my writing, who at some point tried to throw us – me and my family – in a ditch, on the Famagusta-Nicosia road, and even we did not understand how we escaped. The Turkish Cypriots need to learn about Palekithro, Assia and Syklipos, and the Greek Cypriots need to learn about Maratha, Sandalari and Aloe, and that is what I tried to do through my work.
< strong> Truth and Reconciliation Committee
After all, who is the greatest enemy of historical truth?
The greatest enemy of historical truth is first of all fear. The fear of talking, because criminals have never been convicted and are circulating among us. Dozens of bi-communal committees were set up to assist in resolving the Cyprus problem, but no Truth and Reconciliation Committee was set up. Imagine a solution where Ali Faik, who was killed by eucalyptus hunters in Aloa, had to live in the same neighborhood as his child killers or Harita Mandoles had to live in the same neighborhood as her family killers. How many weeks will pass before a vendetta starts that could lead to a new blood cycle? We are talking about a solution that revolves around issues of power and functionality of a bi-communal federation, completely ignoring this aspect of the problem and how these people will live together. With my book I want to provoke this dialogue in society. Today is a good day to start this dialogue, and to face our history. We need it, and our children need it. If we do not take lessons from history, we risk repeating them. Bind the slogans of the style “EOKA beta hit again”, or “Long live Grivas” that appear on the walls and in the stadiums, so many years later. This, then, is the second great enemy of history: oblivion.