This event is in the context of the September 2001 project
"Acknowledging each other's pain"
Details at:

The speech of Arif Hasan Tahsin in the panel on September 23, 2001

Hello. I am 65 years old. I am from the Ayatotoro village in Tyllirga. We had a house and property in Mansura. It was one village till the British.

When I started elementary school, it was the Second World War. Every time we heard a plane, we would run to a bunker.

In 1950, when there was a plebiscite for ENOSIS, I was 14. On April 1, 1955 I was 19.

They did not teach us to be enemies with the Greeks in school.

But we were scared when we heard of ENOSIS. They used to say "They slaughtered all the Turks when there was ENOSIS in Crete".

The Greek-Ottoman and the Greek-Turkish wars were also frightening for us.

It was obvious that there was going to be a change in the administration of Cyprus, but I do not know why we, the Cypriots did not come together to talk about the issue.

EOKA increased the fear among the Turkish Cypriots.

And finally, on June 7, 1958, the Cypriots - Greek and Turkish- turned onto each other.

Ever since I have been able to look at the issues differently, I keep asking myself and those I am talking to the same question: England helped Greece gain its independence from the Ottomans.

England gave Crete to Greece.

England gave the 12 islands to Greece.

And its queen married the son of the Greek King.

So, why then, did England not give Cyprus to her in-laws?

Whatever happened to us Cypriots, it is all our own fault. We, Cypriots, never took our history seriously.

They told us "You are Greek, you are Turkish", we believed them. The British, Turkish, Armenian, Chinese settling in the U.S. are American; the British, etc. settling in Canada are Canadian; everyone settling in Australia is Australian, but you cannot be a Cypriot even if you were born in Cyprus! What logic!

That is how we took on the trouble in Cyprus. When we saw ourselves as Greek and Turkish, Cyprus was left with no owner.

A person does not have one world.

There are many worlds within a person.

In the August of 1964 the villages of Ayatotoro and Mansura where I was born and grew up had to be abandoned due to war.

Does the Mazero hill have any meaning for you?

How about Mali or Guppo?

Goraca, Gamila?

How about Gremmo or Gonadiga?

I, I remember the small water well of my Uncle Huseyin when I hear Mazero. The small well where we would go to get our water when we didn't have any left. Is it possible for me to be able to explain the emptiness inside me due to the lack of this small water well? Could anyone understand what it means for me anyway?

Could anyone understand the pain of having to live for 37 years while constantly missing filling your cup and drinking the water pumped by the the 5-horse "Lister" water pump in the place called "Gremmo" on the coast of Mansura?

What does the Goraca bay mean for you?

You did not even see the naked, dead body of Gosti from Mosvili lying on its back on a sunset at this bay. Neither do you know the little cave right there in Gamila where the drops of water were collected in cups for the passers-by - nor the 37 year-old emptiness in my spirit.

Today, we know that the Cyprus problem which has existed for fifty years and is not coming to an end is not a problem created by the Cypriots.

We now know that we were made to kill each other for the protection of the British-American interests in the Middle East.

For a struggle that was not even ours, we hurt each other for years. We killed and we destroyed the homes and property of each other.

Is it possible for those that were touched by this evil to forget about it all?

Is it possible to repair all the damage?

We cannot bring back the ones we killed.

Even if we return to our places, these places are no longer the same as the ones that live within us.

Even if palaces are built in place of what has been destroyed, nothing can clean up the rubble in our inner world.

I was 28 in 1964. 37 years have passed since.

Is it possible to bring back my 37 years?

Pain and suffering are inextinguishable flames in our souls. Therefore they cannot be forgotten.

It is not possible to share them either.

But, for the future of our Cyprus, we should manage to forgive each other.

We should not find the right in ourselves to contaminate the generations that have not lived through what we have with our pain and make their life harder.

Yes, let's forgive each other and realize that there is no other solution that will benefit the Cypriots more than building a common future.

Let us understand that this country is ours - all Cypriots', and that there is nothing more honorable than us owning its destiny.