April 1, 1955 | The uprising of Cyprus
Defence Redefined
Published on 01/04/2023 at 19:00

It felt like an April fool’s joke. Who could have ever imagined that a handful of Greek-Cypriots would be rising up against the once colonial empire?

It was April 1, 1955, when the Greek-Cypriots rose up against British rule, aiming to, as was proclaimed at the time, “unite” with the motherland Greece.

Their struggle ended with the “London-Zurich Agreements” (February 19, 1959) whereby Cyprus was declared an independent state. And since then, following numerous mistakes, betrayals, disputes, a civil war, a coup, junta, and the invasion of Turkey, Cyprus is still divided in two with its capital, Nicosia, remaining, for almost half a century now, the only divided capital on the planet.

Half an hour after midnight on the 1st of April 1955, deafening noises, explosions, and bombings at power stations and police stations as well as at the Cyprus Radio Institution (RIK) haunted all the cities of the island and constituted the unfulfilled starting point of the struggle for Cyprus’ union with Greece.

Also read: Augustis Efstathiou | Afxentiou’s comrade passed away

The first proclamation of EOKA was released the same night and “Digenis” was the military leader of the organization.

The liberation struggle of EOKA was quickly embraced by the entire Cypriot people. Men, women, and children, each in their own way, left their mark in this unequal struggle. The superiority of the English was evident, whereas the poor armament of the Cypriots and their inexperience in the art of war were not able to break it. On the contrary, Cypriots’ perseverance and longing for freedom gave them courage and drive.

During the struggle, Britain took a hard line with military operations and executions. The first to be executed, on May 10, 1956, were Michalakis Karaolis and Andreas Dimitriou. They were hanged and buried in the so-called “Imprisoned Graves” in Nicosia.

Others followed until 13 fighters were buried in the “Imprisoned Graves”, among them Grigoris Afxentiou, who was killed on March 3, 1957, in a hiding place at the Monastery of Machairas.

Despite the bloodshed and the fighters who sacrificed their lives, the goal of the “Union” was not achieved. Following the London and Zurich agreements (February 19, 1959) Cyprus was declared an independent state on October 1, 1960.

Also read: The Cypriot Uprising of October 1931 against the British




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