Cyprus remembers fallen on coup anniversary

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Cyprus on Thursday honoured all those who sacrificed their lives to defend democracy during the Greek-engineered military coup in Nicosia on 15 July 1974, which led to the Turkish invasion five days later.

Exactly 47 years ago, the Greek military junta, then ruling Greece, and its Greek Cypriot collaborators- EOKA-B, toppled the democratically elected President of Cyprus, the late Archbishop Makarios III.

The coup against President Makarios served as a pretext for Turkey to invade the island on 20 July 1974 on a northern beachhead at Kyrenia.

Sirens sounded at 0820 Thursday to remind people of the exact time the coup unfolded.

President Nicos Anastasiades attended a memorial service for those killed defending the Republic.

He also attended a special session of the House of Representatives to denounce the coup and the Turkish invasion.

Political parties, local authorities and the diaspora have organised events condemning the coup and the subsequent Turkish invasion.

The coup began with the slogan “Alexander has entered hospital”.

On the morning of 15 July 1974, President Makarios was at the Presidential Palace meeting with Greek children from Egypt.

As the coup was unfolding and shooting began, Makarios’ aides helped him escape while protecting the children.

The Presidential Palace, the Archbishopric and other places were attacked as the tanks rolled in.

The state radio (CyBC) was forced to transmit the news that Makarios was dead while Nicos Sampson was appointed as President.

But Makarios had survived the assassination attempt.

Shortly after, he addressed the people of Cyprus from a local radio station in Paphos, declaring:

“The voice you hear is familiar. You know who it is. I am Makarios. I am the one you chose to be your leader.

“I am not dead, as the junta of Athens and its representatives here would have liked me to be.

“I am alive…. The coup failed. I was their target”.

The junta, Makarios said, wants to divide Cyprus and called on the people not to obey its orders and resist.

More attacks were carried out in other towns with dozens dead and many villages of Cyprus to suppress the resistance.