The Renewal of EOKA Violence, 1957-58
A cease-fire was in effect for some of 1957. It was the longest truce declared, and it followed some brutal incidents of murders of Greek Cypriot Atraitors@ and deaths of Turkish Cypriots who were part of law enforcement. Leftists also came in for a series of attacks. However, the cease-fire - - during which EOKA and Makarios accused British authorities of repeated Aatrocities@ against their men - - was followed by a new period of terrorism. Here, Nancy Crawshaw, the British journalist, chronicles this phase in The Cyprus Revolt.
During the cease-fire security operations were aimed mainly at keeping the troops occupied and at containing rather then eliminating EOKA which seized the opportunity to re-form the guerrilla groups. In preparation for the second round, ANE (The Valiant Youth of EOKA) was founded in the summer with the object of enlisting and training recruits. ANE's commanders were instructed to draw upon three categories of young men: nationalist sympathisers who had not yet had an opportunity to join EOKA; the uncommitted who, although they had not succumbed to communism, had equally shown no enthusiasm for the nationalist struggle; and finally communist supporters hitherto opposed to the cause. The inclusion of this last category was characteristic of the Colonel's doctrinaire approach to politics. The initial selection was entrusted to priests and schoolteachers; final membership had to be sanctioned either by EOKA or PEKA; ages ranged from 14 to 25; married men were not eligible. ANE functioned on the communist system, with each member knowing only the identities of the men in his own group. Communications between one cell and another were forbidden. ANE's wide range of duties included surveillance and intimidation. Children began with leaflet distribution and slogan painting. Later, on demonstrating proficiency as gunmen, they were promoted to full membership of EOKA. During the summer EOKA also formed the first anti-Turkish groups and drew up elaborate plans for the defence of the Greek villages against possible Turkish attacks. Sector leaders were ordered to submit detailed reports on their villages, the race ratio and the number of arms available. The mixed villages were instructed to concentrate their defences inside and not to expect reinforcements; the all-Greek communities were told to base their defences on the edge of the villages on the side most vulnerable to attack. A reprisals system was worked out to take place on the same or on the next night.
The Turks soon heard about these preparations. They did not believe that the Greeks, once organised on anti-Turkish lines, would limit their activities to defence. And a new Turkish underground movement was formed, which eventually became the TMT (Turk Mudafa Teskilat -- Turkish Defence Organisation). Four Turks were fatally injured in an explosion at the end of August. The accident led to the discovery of explosives in a Turkish house -- the first indication that the Turks were contemplating militant action in the event of EOKA launching a second round.
After the formation of ANE, recruiting for the guerrilla groups increased rapidly. By the end of the summer EOKA had rearmed and refilled all the important gaps in its ranks, and had at its disposal an efficient force with a potentially greater striking power than ever before. But the time was not yet politically ripe for militant action against the British. An open breach of the cease-fire would have conflicted with the line that the Greek Government intended to adopt at the forthcoming UN debate, namely that whereas EOKA had acted in the spirit of the last Assembly's resolution Britain had disregarded it by continuing security operations. Outwardly the situation remained calm and the authorities eased the emergency laws by stages. The death sentence ceased to be mandatory for throwing bombs, for discharging and carrying firearms. Life imprisonment became the maximum penalty for these crimes.
In the meantime EOKA had renewed violence. Its first target was the left wing. AKEL, by its passive attitude to the struggle, had lost ground to the nationalists. Nevertheless, with its admirable record in social welfare, labour and municipal affairs, it still constituted the only serious challenge to the Church politicians in the long term. All the leading Akelists formerly held by the British in detention camps were now free and Ziartides, the Secretary-General of PEO, had recently returned from England. The timing of the Colonel's sudden outbursts against the leftists usually defied rational explanation. But on this occasion he may well have calculated that the time was opportune to weaken the leftists before they had a chance to rebuild their strength, and to impress again upon the Americans the inherently anti-communist character of EOKA before the Archbishop's forthcoming campaign in the United States.
The attacks against the leftists took the form of isolated incidents mainly in villages. Most of the victims were trade unionists. Four men were thrashed by an EOKA group at Vokolida. At Avgorou masked men tied a villager to a post at night, leaving a warning notice that he was not to be released until daylight. The attacks continued into the late autumn. The Central Committee of AKEL had from the first urged all parties to set aside their differences and continue the struggle for Enosis. Abusive and indecent attacks against the left, AKEL maintained, merely undermined the national effort and the provocation of the villagers by the right wing assisted the colonialists in their policy of 'divide and rule'.
EOKA then turned to the few remaining village mukhtars. Although their services were essential to the villagers, EOKA looked upon them as the tools of the administration and many had resigned under pressure.
In September the new Mukhtar of Asha was marched to the church by an EOKA gang, tied to the door and a placard bearing the word 'traitor' tied round his neck. At Karavas three armed masked men forced the mukhtar to leave his house and go to the coffee shop where they removed his seal from him. Next they tied him to an electric pole and gave orders that he was to be left there until dawn. Other mukhtars were either threatened or assaulted. On 14 October the Mukhtar of Dhali, a respected citizen well known for his moderation, was shot dead by gunmen.
Despite the general deterioration in security, British policy remained conciliatory. The emergency measures were eased by stages. Sampson and Rossides, amongst others facing execution, had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
By the late autumn ANE's preparations were complete. Its own periodical, Reveille, was in circulation. Inflammatory, abusive, fanatically pro-Enosis, the first issue contained an appeal for members, Hellenic poems and slashing attacks on the Communists and the British. The second was chiefly devoted to the glorification of the Greek Army's heroic stand against the Italians in 1941 'when the Great Powers were aroused from the lethargy of their pessimism to courage by the example of Greece'. ANE's authors saw Turkey as the spoilt child of Britain. Carried away in their extremism, they expounded a philosophy which ironically matched that of the Communists with its lapses into hostility towards the Americans and the West.
EOKA decided that the people -- and even some of its own members B needed to be reminded that the struggle was not over. The date chosen as a suitable occasion for a display of strength was 28 October, the anniversary of the Greek stand against the Italians in 1941. Citizens were called upon to cooperate fully with EOKA and ANE in demonstrations; to hoist large Greek flags at sunrise on churches, houses, shops and clubs; to use small paper flags inside coffee shops and clubs and for the decoration of streets and squares. Country dwellers were ordered to paint Enosis slogans in conspicuous positions in their villages. Nationalistic texts to be learnt by heart were widely distributed for use over loudspeakers. Attendance at church, the closure of schools and coffee shops were compulsory. The programme provided for the chanting of national songs and patriotic speeches at the end of the doxology. ANE now came into its own. Its orders were to march in formation shouting Enosis slogans, to sing the Greek national anthem and to stand up to the British troops if they intervened to stop the demonstrations. Violent clashes broke out between the security forces and the Cypriots for the first time since the cease-fire and many people were injured. EOKA had achieved its objective. . . .
The Renewal of EOKA Action, 1958
The rebel movement which faced the Foot administration in 1958 was stronger and even more fanatical than the earlier guerrilla groups which had been largely subdued under Harding. The long respite of the cease-fire had enabled EOKA to build up its military strength. The political extremists at the core of the movement had also gained ground. Confined to his hideout in Limassol, Colonel Grivas was more than ever before the prisoner of his own prejudices and theories. The year 1958 was for EOKA essentially one of isolation in which the Organisation remained largely out of touch with trends in Cyprus and in Greece, and its worst blunders - the war against the Communists and the passive resistance campaign B reached a climax during this period.
The disillusionment with Greece and her allies became more pronounced. EOKA propaganda assumed an increasingly anti-Western and anti-American character, differing little in substance from that of communist origin. The Western powers were attacked for their imperialism; Dulles and Eisenhower for denying the small nations their rights. The glories of Ancient Greece and the Greek War of Independence figured less in EOKA manifestos. Instead the rebellion was presented as a religious crusade to be waged with a bible in one hand and the sword in the other, the rebels as Christian warriors headed by Christ, the new Champion of Liberty:
New recruits were urged to take the EOKA and PEKA oaths in the same spirit as they would take Holy Communion. Religion and Greek History were prescribed as the perfect curriculum for the education of Greek Cypriot youth.
By 1958 ANE's hold over the secondary schools was formidable. EOKA now worked to bring the younger children under its control, with the revival of catechism in schools where the absolute loyalty of the staff was assured and the setting up of special groups B the Akritopoula B for the small children. Teachers were ordered to foster nationalism by means of patriotic songs and to allow their pupils to take part in political processions and strikes. Those who put education and discipline before politics were at first censured by EOKA and later threatened with dire penalties.
The duty of every Christian, as envisaged by EOKA, involved a relentless war against communism. The campaign against the left wing which Grivas had started the previous autumn was intensified in January. During the first two weeks violent clashes took place between the right and the left at Akhna and Pighi. On 21 January a carpenter was murdered in a coffee shop at Kommatou Yialou; at Lysi three men were wounded, one fatally. All the victims were members of the left-wing trade unions. The next day the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) called for a 48-hour strike: AThe working class must in a body express its indignation over the brutal crimes which resulted in the murder of leading members of our trade union movement.@ Demonstrators carried placards in the main towns denouncing the right-wing terrorists as fascists and murderers. The Larnaca branch of PEO cabled Archbishop Makarios warning him of the dangers of civil war and protesting against the 'criminal murder of a trade union leader and a democratic patriot'. On 1 February PEO claimed that civil war had only been narrowly averted thanks to the patriotism and restraining influence of the trade union leaders, and urged the workers to avoid reprisals and concentrate on the struggle for self-determination.
Under the auspices of PEO the widows of the two murdered men addressed an impassioned appeal to the press, the mayors, the Ethnarchy and the local politicians:
The widows declared that their husbands were not criminals but affectionate fathers and husbands and honest patriots 'working tirelessly in the ranks of the Trade Unions and the people's movement for the achievement of self-determination, for the return of the Archbishop and the solution of all the problems which subject our country to hard- ships', and that their husbands had been killed solely because of their membership of the left-wing party:
The murders set in motion the cycle of recriminations. Faced with the rising hostility of the people, EOKA tried to justify the incidents by alleging that the EOKA men were forced to open fire in self-defence, that EOKA's blows were aimed at traitors irrespective of political ideologies, and that no plan existed to exterminate the left wing as a whole. The apologies concluded with the familiar accusation of AKEL's cooperation with the British. But the volume of left-wing protests
continued to rise. AKEL challenged EOKA to accept the verdict of an independent commission set up by the people to investigate the allegations against the left, and offered to discredit and publicly expel from the Party any Akelist found guilty of treason. At the same time AKEL stressed the danger of partition, the need for unity and the avoidance of incidents likely to spark off civil war.
The diversity of EOKA's actions in 1958 was one indication of its increased strength. In the spring Grivas turned his attention to passive resistance. The campaign was first initiated in October 1955 by Archbishop Makarios with an appeal for the resignation of village headmen. On subsequent occasions EOKA had made abortive attempts to impose a ban on lotteries, football pools, British cigarettes and footwear. During the long months of inaction Grivas had given much thought to the possibility of intensifying the campaign and the adaptation of Gandhi's methods to the needs of Cyprus. In February he warned the merchants to stop importing cigarettes, confectionery and footwear from Britain as these were shortly due to be boycotted. On 2 March he inaugurated a new campaign of passive resistance in order to show the world that the Cypriots were ready to sacrifice everything for their freedom and that the struggle was not, as the British contended, limited to a few hotheads.
Two weeks later, almost one year after the cease-fire, Grivas renewed armed action against the British with an intensive sabotage campaign directed mainly at military installations and water pumps. Fifty bombs exploded during the first ten days of April. On 15 April a British interrogator was fatally wounded in Nicosia. PEKA intensified its agitation for the closure of the detention camps; protest strikes were organised and leaflets alleging ill-treatment circulated; special prayer meetings were held by relatives. On 10 April detainees tried to break out of Camp K having first set many of the huts on fire. Troops were brought in to restore order; their presence in the camp after the disturbances became the object of agitation.
The conflict between political expediency and the needs of security was always present during the Cyprus crisis. But the gulf between the civil administration and the armed forces was now greater than at any time before. The army and the police, responsible in the last resort for law and order, could see little merit in the new Governor's policy of conciliation, especially in the face of rising disorders. The Governor hesitated to adopt strong measures at this stage for fear of jeopardising a political settlement. Immediately after the setback to the Foot plan the British Government began discussions in the search for a new political formula. Whitehall's prolonged delay in making a policy statement increased speculation and tension in the island. In the hope of curbing the sabotage campaign which now showed every sign of ending in blood-shed and communal strife, Sir Hugh Foot in the middle of April took the drastic decision to make a direct approach to Grivas. The optimism of newly arrived officials in Cyprus was irrepressible and the one characteristic most governors had in common. The Colonel's uncompromising personality, his deep-rooted mistrust and dislike of Sir Hugh Foot, which had been expressed time and again in EOKA and PEKA leaflets, precluded all possibility of a successful outcome to the new Governor's highly controversial and hazardous venture. Two young Cypriot lawyers, Glavkos Klerides and Michael Triandafyllides, were involved in Foot's attempts to communicate with Grivas. The Triandafyllides family had long been suspected of close links with EOKA. Glavkos Klerides, a key man in the Organisation, had managed to retain the confidence of senior British officials throughout the whole of the rebellion. His ability, his influential position in the community, his usefulness as a go-between, his moderation and courtesy when dealing with the British may well explain his escape from arrest and detention, long after the security forces suspected his activities.
On 16 April Foot asked Glavkos Klerides to arrange the delivery of a personal letter to Grivas in which he appealed to him to save the people of Cyprus from disaster by suspending the campaign of sabotage and violence. The Governor undertook to meet the EOKA Leader 'alone and unarmed' at any place of his own choice, and gave his word that on that day he would be in no danger of arrest. EOKA's side of the story is told in detail by Grivas. Klerides promptly reported the interview to Grivas; Foot had stressed the secrecy of this proposed mission, taken on his own initiative and without the authority of the British Government, and his fears that the renewal of full-scale EOKA action would seriously damage the prospects of a solution in strengthening the opposition of the army and the Turks to the policy of conciliation. The truce must continue for another two or three months to enable him to facilitate the Archbishop's early return. At the end of the report Klerides wrote that on no account must Grivas agree to a meeting but it was important that the text of the letter should be got into the hands of EOKA. He suggested that he should ask for it, get it photo- graphed and then return the original as undeliverable. On 17 April Foot tried for the second time to get the letter to Grivas through Glavkos Klerides. Ten days later the Governor heard that he had received it on 20 April. The next day Grivas ordered a temporary cease-fire but threatened a major offensive unless the British took prompt action to settle the question and reopen negotiations. But the peace was precarious. On 22 April Glavkos Klerides sent Grivas a further report on his discussions with the Governor. The report amounted to a veiled plea for the maintenance of the truce. The Goyernor's aim, wrote Klerides, was to ensure two or three months quiet until the British were in a position to negotiate with the new Greek Government.
Klerides dwelt on the difficulties known to exist between Foot and General Kendrew over policy: the fact that the army, using EOKA activity as an argument, was strongly opposed to the return of Makarios and the release of the detainees, and favoured a stricter enforcement of the emergency regulations, whereas the Governor believed that the Archbishop's return was essential. In their attempts to reason with Grivas the Cypriot leaders seldom committed themselves. But on this occasion Klerides went so far as to express the view that Sir Hugh Foot was sincere in his assessment of the difficulties, and that his desire to placate Greek opinion was motivated by his need for support from at least the Greek faction in view of the mounting antagonism of the army and the Turks towards him. In his reply to Foot, Klerides suggested, the EOKA Leader might consider making the truce dependent on the willingness of the British Government to expedite the final settlement, possibly within a fixed time-limit, and not merely on the Archbishop's return. But it was necessary to leave the door open for Foot to work in official circles to this end.
On 24 April, a second Cypriot lawyer, Michael Triandafyllides, reported on an interview with the Governor which was arranged through the American Consulate. According to Triandafyllides, Foot asked him to inform Grivas that hopeful developments were taking place; the stabilisation of the political situation in Greece was expected with the possibility of progress over the Cyprus question; that if Grivas abstained from violence he undertook to abolish the state of emergency in stages. Grivas did not reply to the Governor. He suspected that the Cyprus authorities wanted a letter from him as an aid to tracing his hideout; and he dismissed the guarantee of one day's immunity from arrest with scorn. The EOKA Leader's next move was to issue a 'final' warning that unless the troops ceased ill-treating the detainees he would start attacks against the British.
Foot visited Camp K the same day and sent for Glavkos Klerides in the evening. Klerides reported to Grivas that the Governor had assured him that the troops would be withdrawn as soon as the damage was repaired; that relatives would soon be allowed to visit the camp; and that the complaints of the detainees would be investigated. The Governor had deplored the possibility that the troubles at Camp K might become a reason for Grivas to renew violence. The consequences were bound to be harmful for the forthcoming Cyprus discussions in London. He concluded by expressing his appreciation to Grivas for having kept the truce up to now. But it was useless to reason with Grivas, and the campaign over the detainees was now in full swing and was not likely to stop in midstream. On 4 May two British soldiers were shot dead by EOKA as a reprisal for the alleged ill-treatment of the detainees. Grivas had dealt a final blow to the policy of conciliation. Foot could no longer stand out against the army's demand for tougher measures and the death penalty was restored for carrying arms.
Averoff, the Greek Foreign Secretary, had in the meantime stressed to Grivas the grave consequences which would result from a renewal of a general conflict, the dangers to the Greek community in Istanbul, the sharp worsening of Greco-Turkish relations, the exploitation of the situation by EDA, and the even greater risk of enforced partition. EOKA suspended violence against the British pending the outcome of a policy statement. The length of the truce, Grivas stated, would be determined by the nature of the plan.
The Turkish Cypriots, fearing that the plan would exclude partition, stepped up their activities in close cooperation with the Turkish Government; events in Cyprus reflected official policy in Turkey. As in 1955, the Turkish Government was determined to show the world the strength of Turkish feeling on the Cyprus question. And the methods which had successfully promoted the Greek case were faithfully copied by the Turks. Huge demonstrations were held during the early summer throughout the country in favour of partition. In Istanbul a wax effigy of Makarios was burnt in front of a vast crowd. The main targets for attack were the British and the Patriarchate. Britain was censured for her perfidy in the past, and her assistance to Greek imperialism in the time of Lloyd George. A law student at the Konya rally on 22 June accused the Patriarchate of committing every form of treason despite the fact that it owed its freedom to the Sultan Mohammed:
Many assurances were given that troops would be sent from Turkey to Cyprus. A woman commentator announced that if necessary the women would go with the Turkish soldiers. The danger of communism was stressed time and again. It was reported that a member of a newly formed youth army had presented a sword to Dr Kutchuk. In spite of the massive scale of the rallies and the enthusiasm they generated no serious incidents were reported in Turkey. On every occasion troops were brought out in strength as a precaution against riots. But they had a disastrous effect in whipping up agitation in Cyprus and providing the Turkish Cypriot leaders with a forum in Turkey for speeches which would have exposed them to arrest under the emergency laws had they been made in the island. The Turkish Cypriots listened daily to these broadcasts.
The Turkish community had been greatly strengthened by the addition of Rauf Denktash, an able lawyer who had completed his education in England on a British Council scholarship and who had recently resigned from the Government legal service. Kutchuk and Denktash announced over Ankara Radio on 31 May that the British were planning to enforce a settlement which would be unsatisfactory to the Turks' During a press conference held on 3 June at the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul, Kutchuk said the British Government was about to grant self-determination to Cyprus, which would mean the extinction of the Turkish Cypriots. A week later the Turkish Government reaffirmed its determination to introduce partition. In Cyprus the TMT, though smaller and less well organised, modelled itself on the pattern of EOKA and grew increasingly aggressive. The boycott of British goods initiated by EOKA was now applied by the Turks to Greek goods. Turks caught smoking Greek cigarettes or using Greek shops were beaten up by gangs of Turkish youths. Turks known to have deviated from the national line that coexistence between the communities was impossible were liable to be denounced as traitors. The TMT warned all Turkish members of Greek trade unions that they must resign, and shot dead two Turkish Communists ostensibly for ideological reasons, but the true motive is likely to have been their membership of PEO, which essentially involved cooperation with Greeks. On 18 May the TMT, in anticipation of the British policy statement, declared that the hour of total action had come: 'The island would be drowned in blood and fire the very day self-government is announced.' The same leaflet instructed the Turkish Cypriots to complete their preparations and hold themselves in readiness for action within the next fifteen days.
The Turkish Cypriots, despite their belligerency, were clearly at a serious disadvantage in that the TMT as yet had only very limited access to firearms. But Turkish orators set out to bolster morale by comparing the campaign with the struggle for Islam and by urging the Turks not to be discouraged by the lack of arms: 'Anatolia's war was fought with sticks and axes. '" The local leaders advised householders to accumulate in their homes knives, axes, sledges, pointed tools, large stones, boiling water and petrol. Convinced that Turkey would send troops to their aid, the Turkish Cypriots were in no way daunted by the fact that Greeks outnumbered them by four to one. Turkish houses displayed posters showing the island partitioned beneath the figure of a helmeted Turkish soldier. The fanaticism which was associated with EOKA now permeated the TMT, which called for 'PARTITION OR DEATH!':
From The Cyprus Revolt: An Account of the Struggle for Union with Greece, by Nancy Crawshaw (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978), pp. 255-258, 278-288.