133 victims of Bloody Christmas remembered, Greek Cypriot authorities told to recognise and apologise for the attacks

British Turkish Cypriots, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, representatives from the Turkish embassy and many others tonight braved the severe winter weather to hold a vigil outside the Greek Cypriot embassy in central London. The action, organised by human rights group Embargoed!, recalled the start of the Cyprus Conflict 47 years ago when Turkish Cypriots were murdered and thousands were forced from their homes by Government forces. A candle was lit for each of the victims, while activists demanded the Greek Cypriot authorities ‘tell the truth’ about the attacks. The vigil concluded soon after 9pm following a two minute silence.

The small but poignant vigil, attended by nearly 40 people, marked the brutal assault against Turkish Cypriots between 21 and 31 December 1963, a period dubbed as “Bloody Christmas” by the international media. Embargoed! displayed photos and details of each of the 133 civilians killed or abducted at this time, with a candle dedicated to each victim. The striking display attracted the interest and sympathy of passers-by, while leaflets distributed included details about these attacks including how a further 20,000 people fled for their lives, forced to take refuge in make-shift camps.

Timed to coincide with the Republic of Cyprus’ fiftieth anniversary of independence, the action forms part of Embargoed!’s year-long campaign called 50 Dark Years – Tell the Truth!. The group are demanding the Greek Cypriot authorities ‘come clean’ about the suffering they have inflicted on Turkish Cypriots. Tonight’s vigil is also intended to remind media and political commentators that the Cyprus Conflict started in 1963 and not, as is often stated, in 1974.

Lord Maginnis praised Embargoed! and other British Turkish Cypriots for their dedicated efforts to highlight the past and present injustices in Cyprus, “I have huge sympathy for the Turkish Cypriot people. Their long years of suffering, persecuted by the Makarios regime and living under embargoes since 1964 simply because they refuse to give up their fundamental rights, is totally unacceptable.”

Embargoed! spokesperson Ismail Veli said, “This small and dignified vigil remembered the 133 civilians brutally murdered simply for being Turkish Cypriot. Victims such as 10 year old Ayse and her grandmother Ayse Hasan Buba, who were buried alive in Ayvasil. All we want is for the Greek Cypriots to acknowledge the terrible wrongs they have committed against Turkish Cypriots.” He added, “A few months ago we launched the campaign with just a handful of people. Tonight we are back with far more – our campaign will only get bigger if they (Greek Cyprus) fail to do the decent thing and apologise.”

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