The “Martyrs of Democracy”, Turkish Cypriots who were murdered in Cyprus between 1958 and 1996, as well as the progressive Turkish Cypriot students murdered in Turkey 1976-79, were commemorated with at the ceremony held every year at their graves in occupied Nicosia.

The annual ceremony, which began with the presentation of Burhan Eraslan, President of the Association for Keeping the Martyrs of Democracy Alive, continued with a minutes silence for the martyrs of democracy. CTP and a representative of Independent Road addressed the event. A message of the Central Committee of AKEL was conveyed and read at the ceremony.

The message from the Central Committee of AKEL is as follows:
“AKEL pays tribute to the Turkish Cypriot martyrs of democracy with respect. They defended peace in Cyprus and fought for this cause. They were at the forefront of the just struggle of the working people for the establishment of democracy, the freedom of thought and expression, and the realization of human rights and freedoms. They paid the price of their struggle to unite our Cyprus against the imperialist powers and their “divide-and-rule” policy with their lives. They were murdered by the reactionary, fascist, dark forces.

As a result of the terror unleashed by fascism, some of our fellow fighters from both communities sacrificed their lives, and some paid other heavy prices. One of the most important tools of fascism, nationalism and chauvinism, which continue to threaten our societies today, is to make us forget the historical truth. For that reason, at this commemoration ceremony, we make the following pledge to our comrades in the common struggle who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for democracy and freedom: We will never let fascism pass! We will continue to struggle until the sun rises for peace, democracy, freedom and equality over our common homeland!

The memories of the Martyrs of Democracy continue to illuminate the path of our common struggle. We will continue our common struggle until Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins crown their just struggle with a solution and our common state that will make all Cypriots the true masters of their homeland.”

In his intervention to the ceremony, the President of the Association for Keeping the Martyrs of Democracy Alive, Burhan Eraslan said that the lives of 12 Martyrs of Democracy were sacrificed in the struggle for peace, democracy and human rights.

The Martyrs include journalist and trade unionist Fazıl Önder, who was murdered in Nicosia in 1958; Ahmet Yahya, an athlete and trade unionist, a member of the Turkish Education Club (TEK); the Lawyers and journalists Ayhan Hikmet and Ahmet Muzaffer Gürkan, who were murdered in Nicosia in 1962; the trade unionist Derviş Ali Kavazoğlu (also member of the Central Committee of AKEL), who was assassinated together with his Greek Cypriot comrade Kostas Mishaoulis in an ambush on the Nicosia-Larnaca road in 1965; Özer Elmas, Mehmet Ömer, Muharrem Özdemir, members of the progressive Turkish Cypriot Students Federation in Turkey (KÖGEF), who were the target of fascist murderers and fell victim to murders in Istanbul, Adana and Ankara during their studies in Turkey between 1976-1979, together with Mustafa Ertan, Ercan Turgut and Sadik Cemil; Kutlu Adalı, a writer for the “Yenidüzen” Newspaper and a leading member of the Peace Association, who was shot and killed in front of his house in Nicosia in 1996.

Eraslan also stressed that it is important to keep the memory of the 12 Martyrs of Democracy alive and to pass on the values they fought for to the future generations.

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