NEW YORK – Cypriot-Americans recalled the nightmarish moments they experienced during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, on the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the tragic events of July 20, 1974, the consequences of which are still in full force today.
George and Panagiota Georgiou, whose story was covered in the American media through the efforts of their 16-year-old son, Iakovos, who was born in New Jersey, in order to remind – but also to bring to attention to – the inhuman situations Greek Cypriot families lived through, some of whom lost their lives, were uprooted or taken prisoner during these tragic events.
According to Iakovos, his mother, Panagiota, together with her family, were forced to leave Eptakomi at the sound of Turkish planes, while his grandfather was arrested by the Turks, captured and managed to escape execution.
"They heard the church sirens and bells ringing loudly. They then told my grandparents to leave Eptakomi. They were scared, as my mother was five years old and my aunt was six years old. My grandfather was taken prisoner and my grandmother was left alone with the two girls. The Turks raped women, the bullets hit the glass and the buildings,” he told The National Herald.
Then, Iakovos Georgiou says that his grandfather escaped the execution thanks to the intervention of a Turkish Cypriot, who knew him personally from Eptakomi. Somehow, he managed to get released after two months. His mother's family immigrated to the United States two years after the invasion in 1976.
"My grandfather suffered for the rest of his life from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He had serious problems and until his death he had complications from PTSD, as my mother told me,” the young Greek-American told TNH. He had contacted us voluntarily and with the encouragement of his family, in order to tell what his loved ones experienced.
Iakovos' father, George, was just four years old when the invasion took place. His family lived in Paliometocho, near Nicosia. Although not in the occupied territories, until the invasion was over, many families moved from one village to another for their safety.
"All I remember is that we got in a car with other people, in the heat and with the planes flying right over us. We moved from village to village in order to protect ourselves. I was four years old and we also had my one-year-old sister with us,” said George Georgiou, who states that he is worried about the future of Cyprus.
"Cyprus is a small country. We try but we are not heard. Neither Cyprus nor Greece has power. Things are difficult. No matter how hard we try here, we in the Hellenic-American community can only do so much. But we must not forget,” concludes Georgiou.