Pembe'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 you had -- what happened?
In the first days of the 1974 war we lived in a house between Turkish and Greek sides in Limassol. My husband was the commander of his village and he was waiting at his village. When the war started Turkish Mujaheeds [freedom fighters] took up positions in our house. I began to live with my family in another house in Limasol near the Turkish hospital, on Turkish side. But in the first day one mortar bomb hit the roof of the house and we escaped from windows, because we couldn`t find a door in the smoke and dust. One Mujahit took us to the Turkish hospital and he turned back to take his family. I knew these people because they were our neighbors. When he was walking across the street a mortar bomb hit his head and he was dead. In the Turkish hospital Greeks captured us after a two hour fight with the Mujahits. Some of them talked to us in Turkish because they were the Greeks who had escaped from Turkey. They cursed at us in Turkish.

Q. What were your feelings or emotions at that time?
We felt bad, but not because of our position. During those days we couldn`t get information about our husbands and brothers, we only cried for them. We thought that Greeks would kill us. But they couldn`t do it. Turkey sent a message to Greeks that if they killed us, jets would bomb them. And they gave us freedom to go to our houses because we were also prisoners at our house.

In one morning Greek soldiers with a Land Rover parked near our house and they started waiting. My father knew some Greek and he translated to us what they said when he watched them through window. "They were waiting for an order and they are going to kill us" he said. After this event, our Greek neighbor blocked off the street with barrels and he said to the soldiers that if they did anything to us he would kill them.

After three days my husband and his brother came back to our house. My husband took me to his village Mutluyaka. We lived 15 days in his village of Mutluyaka. Then we heard that others took shelter in the British base. And we went there too. During the 1974 war we lived there 6 months. After the agreement, Turkish planes took us from the base to Adana in Turkey. We were transferred to Iskenderun by bus. After 17 days we returned to the North side of the island on a ship. We were given a house in the same village with my husband's family, and we are here now.

Q. Is there anything in your experience during this time that you would say was a "lesson for life?"
Yes, we were living with Greeks for a long time, but they wanted to kill us because of the land. After those days it is impossible to live with them again.

Q. Is there anything you else you would like to say about your experience during this time?
I remember the past again.

Occupation (or life's work): Tailor.
Age: 45.
Sex: Female.
Nationality: Turkish Cypriot.
Where now lives (country and city/town/village): Mutluyaka village, near Magosa.
Where lived during the events described during the interview: Limassol.

This interview was conducted by Ibrahim
2 April 1996
For the previous page. "1974: The War."