Harry and his wife Marion
This November marks a year since the death of Harry Scott Gibbons. The Journalist, was formerly a Middle-East Corospondant, and the Author of ‘The Genocide Files’- a book he’d written about the Cyprus problem, and his personal experiences in Cyprus when he was Stationed on the Island During the times of unrest. The Author/ Journalist, died peacefully in 2016, aged 88, at Newlands Nursing Home, Stow-on-the-Wold.
Gibbons had received much criticism for his book, ‘The Genocide Files’. He once stated that after the publishing of the book, he was continuously asked for his opinion of solving the Cyprus problem. Before his death, he’d written a report explaining his reasons for writing the book, the files he’d attained as well as his personal account of what he witnessed which inspired him to compose the book in the way he did. Below is a small extract from 10 page document, containing some of his views, opinions and some of the evidence he’d collected which led to his writing within the book.
“For several years following the publication of my book, The Genocide Files, I have been repeatedly asked for my opinion on how the Cyprus problem can be solved, meaning: ‘What was the future of Northern Cyprus?’
Until now, I have always answered along these lines:
The Cyprus problem was solved in July 1974, when the Turkish Armed Forces intervened in the vicious civil war that followed a covert Greek invasion and an Athens inspired and led coup that deposed the president. This intervention – which was legal under the terms of the Treaty of Guarantee, which is firmly embedded in the Cyprus Constitution – brought the civil war to an end, overturned the coup and thus forestalled enosis (union with Greece), which the coup leaders later said they intended to declare and which was another act specifically forbidden under the Constitution.
I have then been asked why, after the separation of the two races led in 1983 to the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, no country except Turkey recognised the validity of the new country. I have always replied that it would be only a matter of time. There was, I said, a de facto recognition; Northern Cyprus was a reality, not simply a dream like enosis was for the Greeks.
It had a democratically elected president, government and parliament and there had been no ‘inter-communal fighting’, as the Greeks always described their attacks on the Turks, since the 1974 intervention. And one day, I said, the de jure recognition would surely come without the need for any drastic change in the workings of this independent, quiet and peaceful little country.
But recent events have made me amend this viewpoint. I do believe now that Turkey and Northern Cyprus must bring about some drastic change or changes if this Turkish safe haven is to survive. But I must go into the past to show how I have altered my view.
A side effect of the intervention was to allow the return to power of the legally elected president, Archbishop Makarios. I do not believe the archbishop ever thanked Turkey for this munificence, instead demanding till the day of his death the expulsion of the Turkish Cypriots from the safe haven the intervention had given them.
The intervention gave Turkish Cypriots the northern third of the island and an exchange of populations, that the Greek Cypriots agreed to, confirmed the acceptance of the existence of two distinct entities – each inhabited by its own race and each with its own religion and language. It was a de facto ethnic safe haven for the Turks of Cyprus.
But hardly had the ink dried on this agreement – signed on the Greek side by the present President of Greek Cyprus, Glafcos Clerides – than the Greek Cypriots showed once again that they will not abide by any agreement that does not suit their plans for their own future.
When Makarios, the spearhead of the terrorist organisation EOKA, which had for years murdered Britons, Turks and Greeks alike in its ambition to end Britain’s colonial occupation and unite the island with Greece, signed up to a constitution for the establishment of a new Cyprus republic, he agreed to give up for ever his single-minded quest for enosis.
But, as soon as the republic was born in 1960, the Greeks began calling for the constitution’s amendment, with the specific purpose of declaring the forbidden enosis. Unfortunately for this plan, the Turkish Cypriots had been given specific safeguards that would ensure their equality with the Greeks and remove all physical threats to their survival (threats which enosis would certainly impose). Among these safeguards was the power of the veto invested in the Turks. Therefore, in Greek eyes, the Constitution simply had to go.
During the night of 20-21 December 1963, the Greeks launched a series of attacks on Turks
throughout the Nicosia area. At ground level, the Greek actions seemed so haphazard that although it quickly became obvious the attack on the Turks was premeditated, the extent of the planning was not fully discovered until April 1966, when a Greek Cypriot newspaper, Patris, gave details of what has become known as the Akritas Plan. This was the first exercise in ethnic cleansing – racial extermination or genocide, as I prefer to call it – the Makarios government undertook.
The object of this ethnic cleansing, as the Akritas Plan explained, was to prepare for the amendment of the Constitution in such a way as to allow the government to legally – in its eyes at least – unite the island with Greece, the Greek Cypriot ‘Motherland’.
Patris claimed that Makarios had personally organised the entire scheme and had made the military preparations himself. The paper wrote, “Makarios entrusted Yorgadjis [Polycarpos Yorgadjis, former EOKA gunman and now Minister of the Interior] who took the code name of Akritas, with the task of establishing the organisation.
What became known as the Christmas War or, in the Turkish version, Bloody Christmas, was actually the Akritas Plan for genocide. There was bloody slaughter of the Turks and the Greeks also paid a terrible penalty in deaths and injuries when the Turkish fighters hit back, but the Greeks’ aim, enosis, was not realised.
I believe I had a part in wrecking this plan. I was based in Cyprus at that time as the Middle East correspondent of the London Daily Express and had arrived back from an assignment in Africa the day before the shooting began. In fact, I was having dinner in a Nicosia restaurant and heard the first shots ring out. I sent a report on this to my newspaper and gave more details the following day. The result was that the foreign press poured in, swamping the cable office and telephone lines with reports of Greek atrocities. The success of the Akritas Plan was based on suffocating all Turkish protest and keeping
the operation as secret as possible while enosis was arranged. Now the whole world knew what was going on and, while the fierce fighting continued, the element of surprise had been lost. Christmas came and went, by which time the three Guarantor Powers had become involved, as had the United Nations, and enosis was not achieved.
But, as I said, the Akritas Plan for Genocide, was not known for years. In the interval, the now famous Green Line was drawn across the capital city, Nicosia, to protect the Turkish quarter, a United Nations peace force arrived, Makarios received a slap on the wrist and was told to behave himself and the world’s press left. I was sent to Istanbul for a year, after which I quit newspaper work for a time to write a book on the ongoing war in the Yemen.
The bloodshed continued on the island for 11 years after that Christmas, but the world had now lost interest. Those 11 years were hell on earth for the Turkish Cypriots, starved, hounded from pillar to post by the now all-Greek authorities, and pursued by the emergent Greek Cypriot National Guard led by mainland Greek officers. And, where they had owned 35 percent of the land, mostly the best agricultural acreage, they were now squeezed into three percent of it, spread across the island in tiny enclaves.
The Greeks of Cyprus had attempted genocide against their fellow citizens, the Turks, and had failed. 11 years later, they tried again.
The Cyprus Turks were still in bondage, deprived of their human rights, surviving on handouts from the Turkish government, their lives with no apparent future. Makarios, meanwhile, had quarrelled with the Greek generals’ new junta, which had replaced the Colonels’ junta that had ruled Greece from 1967 to 1973. The result of this was that, while Makarios, Clerides, et al. were preparing the second, definitive, Final Solution of the Turkish Problem, namely another genocide offensive, the Athens junta led by General Dimitrios Ioannides was preparing to solve its Makarios Problem.
The second genocide attempt, as it was later revealed, was due to begin some time after 10 July 1974, the actual date not specified. Athens was totally involved in this plan as documents captured later were to prove, but the contentious attitude of Makarios apparently made them decide to take over and execute it themselves
On 15 July 1974, the Greek Cypriot National Guard and an army of Greek mainland troops, who had been smuggled in without the knowledge of Makarios, staged a successful coup in Nicosia. Blowing up the presidential palace outside the city walls, the death of Makarios was announced and a new president, the EOKA killer, Nicos Sampson, a long-time friend of General Ioannides, was installed. Sampson immediately attempted to allay any fears the Cyprus Turks may have (with good reason) been entertaining, promising they would be unharmed. I wondered about this at the time, unaware that the plan for their extermination was based, like the 1963 version, on secrecy.
But, Makarios had not died in his palace. He escaped unscathed, managed to make a radio broadcast calling on his supporters to oust his usurpers and the civil war began. Not only had the military coup breached the Constitution, but all over the country Greeks were killing Greeks, and the slaughter
begun to include innocent Turkish families fleeing to safety.
After five days, during which some 2000 uniformed and civilian Greeks died, the Turkish armed forces intervened. The landings and their success have been fully recorded elsewhere – including in my book – but here I want to expose the true facts of the second act of genocide. With the Turkish army on the north of the island was a Greek-speaking liaison officer, Turkish Cypriot fighter Erol Fehim. As his unit moved west of Kyrenia, they came across several hastily abandoned Greek army camps. In the camps they found documents, signed and stamped by the military, giving complete instructions for the obliteration of the Turkish Cypriot population. When Erol Fehim read them, he found he was holding in his hands a plan code named Iphestos [Volcano] 1974.
These were the genocide files.”
The PDF which can be found online to download is far more detailed than the extract published above.
History and politics will always be a subject of perception. There can surely never be a certain ‘right’, or a certain ‘wrong’- outside of the obvious, where the murder and deprivation of innocent and defenceless people, whomever they may be, will surely always sit beneath the category of ‘wrong’.
One man’s ‘Murderer’ is another man’s ‘freedom fighter’. One may use the label ‘Oppressor’, whereas the other may label the same thing as ‘liberator’.
One thing is for sure- when analysing history, one must be responsible enough to search for non biased sources, and to take into account the human aspect of those who lived through unfortunate events which some of us are fortunate enough to have never lived through.
Solutions are not found in a world of racism, hatred, violence, intolerance and a lack of responsibility. Solution comes with respect, empathy, understanding and patience. And it is with the latter well wishes that this analysis will end.
Harry Scott Gibbons is survived by his wife- the revered author, Marion McChesney, his son Charles, and his baby Grandson.
In memory of a talented and dedicated Author, following one year of his death.
Charles Gibbon (The son of Harry and Marion), Harry, Marion and their baby Grandson