Cyprus Federation Commemorates the EOKA Liberation Struggle against the British
On April 3, 2022, in an emotionally-charged atmosphere with a moving artistic program, the Cypriot American community honored the 67th anniversary of the EOKA 1955-59 Liberation struggle against British colonial rule in Cyprus.
The cultural event was organized by the Federation of Cypriot-American Organizations (FCAO) in collaboration with the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and the Consulate General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York. The event commemorated, honored, and highlighted the events from 1955 to 1959, when the Greek Cypriot youth stood up against Britain, fighting for their freedom.
During his remarks, FCAO President, Mr. Kyriacos Papastylianou, asked: “How can a speaker today stand up to the heights of such a struggle and so many unjust sacrifices?” Among those present at the event, he recognized the EOKA fighter Andreas Karacostas. “We applaud you, Andreas Karacostas, and at the same time, in your presence, we applaud the fighters and all those who have been hanged, sacrificed, and imprisoned during this fight. The British believed a struggle would never happen and that the Cypriots would never revolt for their freedom. They did not realize that the fighters’ dream was a virtue, the dream for a better tomorrow, hope and altruism,” Mr. Papastylianou noted.
Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, who represented Archbishop Elpidophoros, read the message of His Eminence, which stated, among other things, that “this struggle is not over.” “Cyprus is suffering from the invasion, and although we are turning to the war in Ukraine, we should not forget the long occupation of Cyprus by an illegal invasion.”
PSEKA President Philip Christopher drew the parallel between the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, emphasizing that the drama of the uprooted refugees is identical. “Today, we see on television the invasion of Ukraine. Mariupol could be Famagusta, Odesa, Kyrenia, and these refugees like those waiting to return to Kyrenia, Morphou, and Famagusta. If Turkey had been stopped in 1974, there would not have been an invasion of Ukraine today,” Mr. Christopher said.
The Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York, Mr. Michalis Firillas, referred to his personal experience and how the fighters were honored in his own home. His uncle was a comrade in the fight with Markos Drakos, who was cold-bloodedly executed by the British. “We made the memorial for Markos Drakos at my house with refugee neighbors. Thus, the historical epic of EOKA in our house was very intense,” he said, calling on the Greek Cypriot community to contribute with its efforts in the policy-making centers.
The Consul General of Greece in New York, Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, referred to the awe he felt during his repeated visits to the “Filakismena Mnimata” (the Brits buried the executed fighters within the prison area) and urged the younger generations to maintain what was earned through the struggle but also to learn from the example of the fighters. “With the comfort of prosperity, we find it difficult to realize how much courage these youths had. Today is a day of remembrance, paying tribute to the heroes who sacrificed their lives.
A screening of the documentary “ΗΡΩΩΝ ΓΗ” produced by the FCAO, which included testimonies and historical facts from the time of the EOKA struggle, followed.
The beautiful musical program under the artistic and musical direction of Mr. Phyto Stratis touched the audience. The talented soloists of the Pancyprian Cultural Division Aggeliki Psoni, Ariadne Anna, Demetris Michael, Louis Panayiotou, and the members of the Pancyprian Choir participated in the program with songs that highlighted the EOKA heroes Grigoris Afxentiou and Evagoras Pallikarides.
The student Nicolas Polydorou gave an exceptional performance on the violin and with a poem, he wrote for EOKA. The St. Demetrios School, second-grade and ninth-grade students performed moving songs and poems with their teachers, Dr. Eirini Grapsias and Mrs. Peggy Simakos, accompanied by Mr. Phytos Stratis on piano.
Also present were Permanent Representatives of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus to the UN, Ambassador Maria Theofili and Ambassador Andreas Hadjichrysanthou, respectively, St. Demetrios Cathedral Astoria presiding priest Fr. Vaseilios Tsourlis, Parish Council President Stefanos Thomatos, Federation of Greek American Educators President Stella Kokolis, Military Attache of the Republic of Cyprus George Ioannou, Consul of Cyprus in Washington DC George Loizou, Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Maria Pappas, as well many other well-known members of the community.
The MC for the event was Louisa Sirimis, President of Nepomak USA, the youth division of the FCAO.
The EOKA 1955-59 Photo Exhibit, organized with the support of the Cyprus Press and Information Office, was also part of the program along with the “Agros village” exhibit, a project by the St. Demetrios second grade students.