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From collective guilt to collective responsibility

By Athina Kariati

Every year on the 15th and 20th of July we wake up by the sirens to remind us of the two anniversaries, the coup organised by the Greek Junta and the invasion of Turkey to Cyprus.

The events of 1974 were not isolated events. If we are going to remember what happened we have to remember the whole story. 
Every year we tend to forget even more the events of 1963-67 but also before, the events of 1955-59. 
But more importantly we forget who was organising these events, and for what reason.

We were not in these together. The establishment is using a collective guilt in order to
silence the people.

There was no collective agreement to have the guerrilla of EOKA organised by a fascist,
either to have a “resistance” organisation, TMT, which isolated the turkishcypriots from the
rest of the population. 

There was no collective agreement for the Junta. There was no collective agreement for the
invasion. 

More importantly, there was no collective agreement for the greekcypriot elite to hijack the
common state, and there was no collective agreement to have this short of state that could
easily be hijacked. 

Similarly there was no collective agreement to close the checkpoints. No collective
agreement on how the coronavirus will be handled.

There is a responsibility of the forces of the left that were supposedly representing the
working people at that time (and today) but this is another discussion.

You would think that by taking a look at the political and economic elite of both communities,
people would have turned to conclusions.

What happened to the EOKA a’ leaders? They became the government after 1960. What
happened to the EOKA b’ and the coup leaders? They are still today in the governing party
in the south. What happened to the TMT leaders? They had the presidency for almost 30
years in the north. They are still part of the establishment.

Who got rich and who is still struggling?

We are not in this together. 

The greekcypriot and turkishcypriot working people did not collectively decide on war and
division. In all instances the political elites played with the people’s fears, need of security,
promised a better life, promised peace. They didn’t tell us though, who will save us from
our saviours
.

We don’t want any more saviours – whether they are individuals, presidents or governments. 
We need to raise our collective voice – the one that was expressed in 2003 and opened
the checkpoints; the one that was expressed so many times in the bicommunal Maydays,
Peace Days and during the negotiations in the green line; the one that was voiced in the
demonstration after the attack on the Africa newspaper; the one that was voiced last March,
in the demonstrations against the closing of the checkpoints, and many more occasions.

Can we organise this voice? Can we work together, discuss with each other, learn from
history, get to trust each other, and stop trying to “persuade” leaders? Can we take the lead
in our lives? 

This is what we need.

I know that now all these sound distant. The pandemic, the economic crisis that already
started the fact that the checkpoints are practically closed, since it’s very difficult to cross,
create disillusionment.

Instead the fight against coronavirus to become a chance for cooperation, the ruling elites
turned it to another excuse to raise suspicion, mistrust, demoralisation and nationalism. The
economic crisis, the fight of who will control the natural gas, will create more conditions for
nationalism to rise dangerously.

This time we have the collective responsibility, all of us who built bridges since 2003, all of
us who want peace, security, and prosperity for all, not to let nationalism take these bridges
down, not to have more 15ths or 20ths of Julys, to become an obstacle to any future
bloodshed and the forces that will cause it.

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