Erkan's Story

Q. Think back to an experience you had that is an example of your life in Cyprus during the 1974 war. What is that experience, what happened?
My experience starts just before the war and ends after the war. On the 10th of July I began to take my annual vacation. We were in Limasol and we had a vineyard. Since it was time to harvest the grapes, I went to our vineyard in order to do this process. The date was the 15th of July. By the way, I was a commander in the army. While I was harvesting the grapes, one of my soldiers came to me and he was very excited. I asked the reason for his being there. He told me that there was a military coup by Greek Cypriots. He also added that Makarios was killed (we learned later that he was not killed) and Nikos Sampson had taken the dictatorship.

Q. What were you feeling at this time? Were you in comfort or did you have any fears about your lives or futures?
Of course, we had serious fears about our futures. Because, Greek Cypriots started to kill many Turkish Cypriot people in 1963. Many people were killed and even some of my relatives and soldiers were killed. So, we were afraid. 11 years had passed, but the same situation was continuing. In each day, at least 2 or 3 people were killed by Greek Cypriots. Then, we began to wait for someone that could save our lives.

Q. Let's continue with your story.
When I heard that story from my soldier, I gave up my vacation and returned to the squadron. I gave a command and I put my army on the alert. We called everybody who could use guns to the army. The atmosphere was very tense. And this situation continued until the 20th of July.

Q. Was there any time that you lost your hope that someone would save your lives?
The Turkish Cypriot people were really brave. They weren't afraid of being killed for their nation. But it was not enough. Greek Cypriots were continuing to kill people, because they had power. We didn't lose our hopes totally, but our morale was actually low. Meanwhile, we had heard that Turkey was preparing to make some kind of an operation. So, we were looking forward to Turkish soldiers coming to Cyprus.

Q. So, what happened on the 20th of July?
On that date, the time was 05:30 am. It was the period of changing the soldiers who were standing guard. While soldiers were changing their turns, another soldier came to me and said that Turkish troops were coming to Cyprus in order to help us.

Q. Would you please describe your feelings at that time, when you heard the Turkish troops were coming?
Yes. When I heard this event, I became very happy. I can't find words to describe my feelings. I felt that my luck had returned to me. It was a great feeling. I suddenly began to see me and my nation's future very good. Anyway, after hearing this news, I told it to my army as well. I wish you had seen their happiness. All the soldiers began to shout. They threw their hats into the air. They embraced each other. Everyone was kissing each other. Of course, our morale automatically became very high.

Q. Did this great happiness help you in the 1974 War?
The war was continuing outside of our village. But, as our morale became very high, we went to neighbor villages and tried to help them. We struggled very much and finally we managed to save our lives and our nationality from Greek Cypriots. The only reason was that we were aware that the Turkish army was helping us. I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life, because there was a big change in my experience. At first, the condition was very bad, but then it became unbelievably good.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Occupation: Retired from military-businessman.
Age: 48.
Sex: Male.
Nationality: TRNC.
Where now lives (country and city/town/village): Lefkosa.
Where lived during the events described during the interview: Evdim, a village in Limassol.
Occupation (or life's work) of the main income earner in household when growing up: Father grew grapes.
Education: Graduated from secondary school.

This interview was conducted by Firat
April 1996

For the previous page. "1974: The War."