CYPRUS: Remembering Karaolis – a historical document by Albert Camus

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Eleven years ago, a historic document related to the first hero of the 1955-59 EOKA struggle for independence was rescued and preserved for historical perpetuity.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the execution of Michalakis Karaolis on May 10, 1956, a handwritten manuscript by the philhellene Nobel laureate and philosopher, Albert Camus, appealing to Queen Elizabeth II for mercy for the young Greek Cypriot freedom fighter, was acquired from auction by Nasos Ktorides, Chairman and CEO of EuroAsia Interconnector, and donated to the National Struggle Museum in Nicosia.

In a letter of appreciation in June 2006, President Tassos Papadopoulos praised the benefactor and said, “the respect for a liberation struggle is not only enacted through the direct participation of an individual, but also by reliving the ideals and principles that inspired the struggle and that survive to the end of that struggle. The participation in spirit and through the ideals of a struggle is tantamount to participation in the struggle itself.”

Michalis Karaolis was a civil servant in the British Colonial administration and a member of EOKA, the freedom fighters that struggled for Cyprus’ independence.

A young Karaolis, just 22 years old at the time, was credited for the execution on August 28, 1955, of a police officer, member of the Special Branch who had infiltrated the EOKA movement. On his way to rejoin the guerrillas headed by Grigoris Afxentiou in the Kyrenia mountains, Karaolis was captured and sentenced to death on October 28.

He was hanged at the Central Prisons on May 10, 1956, together with Andreas Demetriou, the first heroes of the independence struggle. Their bodies are buried at the memorial graveyard within the prisons and visited by thousands each year, during national holidays.