Sunday, 2 April 2006

1st of April 1955: April Fool's Day; EOKA terrorists' day

1st of April 1955: April Fool's Day; EOKA terrorists' day.

[Updated at 12.10am, 3rd of April 2006; further at 12.25pm, 9th of June 2006]

This photo was taken at a march in Nicosia on the anniversary of the mobilisation of EOKA ("Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston", "National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters"; not, as Kyle (1983) translated it, "National Organisation of Freedom Fighters" (though they did see themselves as freedom fighters)).

The organisation considered Cypriots to be Greek (and Turkish Cypriots to be Turkish), so, to be even more precise, it was the National Organisation of Greek Cypriot Fighters.

Generously described as a "campaign of sabotage" or a "revolt", or, as I heard it today, rather romantically, "the first stone thrown against the British", the campaign was one, as Crawshaw (1978) observed, of "terrorism".

EOKA's struggle was not, either, a campaign for independence, as Cypriot newspapers sometimes labelled it; it was a campaign against British colonialism, but it was also a campaign for Greek colonialism.

(The papers sometimes called it an independence struggle in one article, a struggle for enosis, union with Greece, in another and a terrorist campaign in yet another; some seemed to use the terms interchangeably.)

"I heard today's a dangerous day for me", I joked to a local.
"Which day?" they asked.
"Today; I ought to watch for stones", I smiled.
"Why?" they queried.
I checked, "it's the anniversary of the first stone thrown against the British, isn't it?"
They enquired, "by who?"
I clarified, "by EOKA..."
"... Ah, yes", they smiled. "So you think you'll have problems because you're British? You'll be all right", they reassured me, "no-one thinks like this any more."

Sadly, there are some people who do; gladly, they are few and far between. President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, has changed his mind since the days when he was, according to the Guardian, a "prominent member of EOKA". For his past actions, one former UN worker's wife who I spoke to branded him "a terrorist".

Still, as the International Crisis Group note, President Papadopoulos is at least still a "blockage", whose "refusal to engage" threatens any hope of reconciliation and reunification, so he hasn't entirely backtracked on the ideology that he held when he was fighting with the group that, as Britain's Small Wars [Paul and Spirit (2002)] observes, murdered Cypriot civilians - both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot - and British colonial civilians, as well as British colonial police and soldiers.

[Updated at 7am on the 4th of April 2006]

I should note that I do not know the context or quality of the former UN worker's wife's comments (if there were any), beyond Tassos Papadopoulos's membership of EOKA; insofar as that is concerned, however, in an article for Interrights, the Hon. Mr. Justice Michael Kirby (2004: 33) also labelled EOKA "terrorists".

Kirby's (2004) comment complements Crawshaw's (1978) opinion above, both of which are corroborated by the tactics of the murders of civilians described by Britain's Small Wars and others.

The categorisation of the organisation as a terrorist one would, presumably, require the categorisation of the organisation's members as terrorists, though individual members' guilt for particular actions cannot be inferred from their organisation's responsibility.


  1. My understanding of EOKA, built up when I was in Cyprus in the 90s, and which others are free to contradict, was that there were significant differences between the objectives of EOKA A - to push the British out and to gain independence - and EOKA B - to murder Turkish Cypriots and to reach an enthnically cleansed pan-hellenic enosis under the fascist Greek junta

  2. I think that's quite a common public narrative, but some sources, at least, seem to suggest otherwise; again, according to Crawshaw, even in 1957 and 1958, in the cause of enosis, EOKA (A) was assaulting left-wingers and other civilians, "gunmen" (not absolutely explicitly labelled EOKA) even killing a moderate mukhtar in Dali/Dhali.