Apart from the vast majority of Greek Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus and fleeing their homes in the shadow of the Turkish invasion of 1974, a few thousand (the first 20 years or so) consciously chose, at all costs, to remain there, in place. their. Holding their own Thermopylae. We are used to calling them “trapped” and they are real heroes, despite the fact that they themselves do not seek this recognition. They are the ones who keep the flame of hope for reunion burning, it is the reason that the Greek element from the northern half of the island has not been lost so far. Even in a period like the present, when the occupied territories are under the full control of Turkey and we are, for one reason or another, closer than ever to final division.
Dimitris Kotsiekkas got to know the divided Cyprus from both sides of the “currency”. The first until 18, when he grew up trapped in Karpasia and the second from 19 onwards, when he settled in the free areas. “Where are you from?”, Is a question that he encountered and meets constantly, and that in order to answer it as he would like, he wrote a book, naming it with this question. Mr. Kotsiekkas talks to politis .com .cy about his book, his experiences from the two communities, the situation in the Cyprus issue, the “good and bad people”, as well as what will be born in the martyr Rizokarpaso.
- “Where are you from?”… Why is this question so important to you? It also bears the title of your book.
The title of the book is the question they asked us (Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and settlers) during our transition to and from the roadblocks. A question that in order to answer it you must inevitably reflect on everything you saw, heard and lived as a cage. The book deals with the life and course of those trapped in Rizokarpaso, through their own testimonies and experiences. Having lived as a cage myself, I thought that the best way to learn the story of these people is only to describe it through the humanitarian lens, including all the views that exist among the caged.
Photo : Andreas Manolis
- Why did you feel the need to write this book?
As I mention in the book, the Cyprus I knew until I was 18 was different from the Cyprus I met when I was 19. Another life, names and situations in the occupied territories and another life in the free areas. This book gave me the opportunity to answer the questions of my fellow E/Cs that I met in the free areas, and to give them a picture of my life until 18. This effort was approved by the Ministry of Culture, resulting in The book on school libraries has been approved and I am very happy about this as several teachers have expressed their willingness to talk to their students about the book which serves the purpose of the information I set from the beginning.
- In your book you divide those trapped in Rizokarpaso into three categories. Can you explain the differences?
The three categories that separate the trapped were selected as there are significant changes in the areas of daily living in the occupied areas and in the violations of the rights by the regime. Which for study purposes gives significant benefits. The first period is the first years after the invasion when living conditions were very difficult (1974-1990). The second period was from 1990-2003, when the situation began to normalize (as far as this can be said). And the third period is from 2003 when the roadblocks were opened until today where the regime tries through its actions to assimilate the trapped people since they now consider that by allowing the trapped people to cross the roadblocks they have stopped being “trapped”. This is not the case as the detainees have suffered many violations of their Human Rights, violations that characterize them to this day, and should not be judged as if their status depends solely on the right of “free” passage through the roadblock. >
Photo : Andreas Manolis
- What is it like to grow up in the occupied territories? How did the Turkish Cypriots and the settlers treat you?
My memories of being trapped in Rizokarpaso are intense and I feel that they have influenced the way I think and function as a person. For example, having to think twice before doing anything, paying attention to what you say and to whom you say it, and always having to explain your intentions, are characteristics that characterize every person who lived in the conditions before the roadblocks were opened. Lack of basic goods, restriction of all freedom (since we had to get permission from the “authorities” for everything), fear and suffering compose the scene of my childhood. But the biggest difficulty I remember was when we “compulsorily” separated from my father, since for educational purposes we had to go to the free areas only with our mother and our father was left behind to keep our house and that includes. We only saw him during the holidays. This sacrifice of my parents is answered in the book with a text entitled “I smell my house”.
- A few years ago, in a news bulletin report, an E/C journalist asked an elderly fellow villager “how she experiences the cage”. Her grandmother spontaneously replied “you are my daughter trapped”. Who are the “trapped” after all?
Trapped people can not tell the truth in public. A camera and a reporter who goes to talk to a trapped person and then takes the road back to the free zones should keep in mind that the trapped person is left behind. This symbolic answer of the grandmother, in addition to her attempt to entertain the questions of the journalists, also aims to show that the stay of the trapped in the occupied territories is a conscious decision of which they are proud. At the same time, as I mention in the book, during the three periods that the detainees are separated, the opinion within the group differs as to what benefits and what problems were caused in their claims on both sides of the Cyprus problem, which pushes many detainees to distance themselves.
- Do you think that the modern history of Cyprus is correctly recorded in the two communities or one-sided?
In a country like Cyprus where the element of suspicion was inherent in the Constitution from the beginning after the rupture and the Turkish invasion in 1974, both sides projected human suffering in order to promote their positions in the international community. What concerns me is in two parts. First, the victimization of the victims of war in order to gain more visibility of the positions of either side, often ignoring the real needs of these people. And secondly, the fact that even today in our schools there is no clear picture of both the events before and those that followed in 1974. What I mention now is my view that I have formed with my daily friction with my peers. and other people in the free zones.
Photo : Andreas Manolis
- You spent several years with both communities. You saw, lived and heard a lot. In your opinion, is a peaceful coexistence realistic? Do Greek Cypriots have a wrong impression of Turkish Cypriots or vice versa?
My father, who has been trapped for so many years and has had a difficult time, used to say that all people are divided into good and bad, not nationalities. I have seen this and I have lived a lot on both sides. The basis for peace to prevail is the decisions and actions of all these everyday people who have experienced the violence of the past and remember it in order not to suffer it again.
- How do you see things at the moment in the Cyprus issue?
Unfortunately, having lived in the occupied several years, I find that we have been seeing and saying these accomplishments that Turkey is trying to impose for a long time. If the international community does not take immediate action to defend the Republic of Cyprus, I believe that things have turned negative.
- What will happen to Rizokarpaso if the solution does not come?
In Rizokarpaso and the other areas where the caged live, their number is decreasing every day. We, the children of the trapped, are forced to leave in order to work with dignity, and our parents are left behind, who due to human nature will die in some years. Therefore, with the death of the last trapped person, if there is no solution, all the efforts made by this forgotten group for the return and reunification of our place will be lost.
Photo: Andreas Manolis/A man & # 8211; symbol of Rizokarpasos, who lived there alone. With the sea alone, in which he left his last breath.
- How do you assess the support of the Republic of Cyprus to the trapped and resettled ;
The support from KD is ambitious. However, I believe that it should be targeted and seek to solve problems and provide greater prospects for the resettled. This could only be done if a thorough study of the needs of these people was done more specifically and not on the basis of an average analysis.
- Are you visiting your village today? Are you thinking of returning?
My return to Rizokarpaso can not be done if the Cyprus problem is not solved so that I can work professionally throughout the territory of KD. Today I go back to see my aging parents and see that due to the situation only one of their 7 children stayed with them permanently.