On July 20, 1974, at 5:20 am, 40,000 Turkish troops landed and invaded northern Cyprus after last-minute talks in the Greek capital, Athens, failed to reach a solution.
The Turkish troops under the command of Lieutenant Nurettin Ersin implemented their invasion plan, code-named ‘Attila’, illegally invading the island in violation of the UN Security Council Charter.
The blue sky of Cyprus quickly dulled with smoke from bombs dropped by the Turkish warplanes. Hundreds feared for their lives as the invading Turkish troops murdered 4000 men, women and children from Kyrenia and the villages surrounding Nicosia in cold blood.
Tension had been running high in the Mediterranean island since a military coup, in which President Archbishop Makarios, a Greek Cypriot, was deposed.
As an explanation for this horrific act, Turkey offered to restore the constitutional structure of the Republic of Cyprus that was damaged by a coup and to protect an 18% Turkish-Cypriot minority on the island.
The international community strongly condemned the military invasion and rejected Turkey’s explanations. In ‘Resolution 353′ that was adopted on the day of the invasion, the United Nations (UN) Security Council “equally concerned about the necessity to restore the constitutional structure of the Republic of Cyprus” called upon all States to “respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus” and demanded “an immediate end to foreign military intervention in the Republic of Cyprus”.
Turkey not only ignored the international community but launched a second offence in August 1974 and managed to seize more than one-third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
The atrocities of the Turkish army included repeated rapes of women of all ages, torture, savage and humiliating treatment of hundreds of people, including children, women and pensioners, during their detention by the Turkish forces, as well as robbery on an extensive scale, by Turkish troops and Turkish Cypriots.
Thousands of Greek Cypriots lost their lives, and 200,000 Cypriots fled their homes, leaving behind their belongings.
The Turkish-Cypriots also later declared the occupied part of the island “a Federated Turkish State.”
A very sad day for Cyprus, with the horrific memories still remaining strong in the minds of all Greek Cypriots and Greeks alike.
Every year since, on the anniversary of the invasion, sirens have blared out over the Republic of Cyprus, recalling the sad moment Turkish troops invaded.