On August 11, 1996, a Berlin-to-Cyprus peace ride by motorcyclists from around Europe ended at the Greek Cypriot village of Deryneia, and among the riders that day was Tasos Isaac from Protaras. The village adjoins the Green Line that divides Turkish occupied northern Cyprus from the Republic of Cyprus.
During the riders’ protest at the Green Line, to show their ongoing frustration at the continuing occupation of the north by Turkish forces, a melee ensued. Clashes between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots broke out in the UN Buffer Zone that separates the two communities.
In the chaos, Tasos Isaac was cut off from his fellow demonstrators, and surrounded by Turks. Despite the fact that he was unarmed, he was set upon and beaten to death. Isaac’s body was later recovered by UN personnel.
Three days later, after Isaac’s funeral, a crowd once more gathered at the Deryneia checkpoint, to protest against the death. Among the protesters this time was Solomos Solomou, a 26-year-old who was enraged at the death of his friend, Isaak. Despite repeated attempts to hold him back, Solomos eluded the UN peacekeepers and slipped across no-man’s land to one of the flagpoles carrying the flag of the illegal and unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Cigarette in mouth, he managed to climb halfway up the flagpole, before being struck by five bullets. The shots came from the nearby Turkish Cypriot guard post, and quite possibly from bushes sheltering armed soldiers. Solomos’ death was captured on video, and is replayed at the viewing points that overlook the tragic site of the Deryneia deaths.
From their peaceful protests, two Greeks were killed in cold blood by Turks in Cyprus.
In 1974, Turkey invaded the northern parts of the island to prevent Cyprus from uniting with Greece and to this day continues an illegal occupation. The occupation is to maintain the quasi “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” that is recognized by no other state in the world bar Turkey and is recognized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 541 and UN Security Council Resolution 550 as illegal.