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Cyprus Remembers Brutal Murder of Tassos Isaac by Turkish Nationalists

Tassos Isaac
Tassos Isaac being brutally beaten by a Turkish mob in Cyprus in 1996. Credit: hr-action / Wikipedia / Fair use

August 11th marks twenty-six years since the brutal murder of the Greek-Cypriot demonstrator Tassos Isaac inside the United Nations Buffer Zone in 1996.

Anastasios (Tassos) Isaac was a 24-year old Greek Cypriot refugee who participated in an August 11, 1996 civilian demonstration in Deryneia against Turkey’s illegal military occupation of the island.

During a confrontation that took place in the UN buffer zone between the demonstrators and individuals from the Turkish “Grey Wolves” militia group, Isaac suddenly found himself ensnared in barbed wire.

None of his fellow protesters had noticed that he had been left behind the main group of the Greek, Greek-Cypriot, and other European demonstrators who had traveled from around Europe to Cyprus to protest Turkey’s actions.

The Grey Wolves is an ultranationalist, Islamist, neo-fascist youth organization of Turkey, affiliated with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party.

Soon, a large group of the Grey Wolves ran toward Isaac and viciously attacked him.

Unchallenged by the nearby UN peacekeeping troops who had been caught by surprise, the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot mob continued to brutally beat the protestor for several minutes.

By the time Greek-Cypriots, finally aided by UN peacekeepers, managed to drag Isaac away from the mob, it was too late.

The young Greek-Cypriot, who had been forced to leave his homeland at the age of two in 1974, was dead.

According to video footage that captured the attack, a number of Turkish-Cypriot policemen were also seen beating Isaac viciously instead of stopping the attackers.

When Isaac was murdered, his wife was pregnant with their first child.

As a gesture of gratitude for his services to Greece, the Greek government decided that the godparent of the baby would be the entire Greek nation.

When the baby girl was born, she was baptized Anastasia, after her father’s name, by the then Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Theodoros Pangalos.

Solomos Solomou: The Second Victim after Tassos Isaac

A few days later, on August 14, 1996, another Greek-Cypriot died at the hands of the occupying forces of Cyprus, which had been overcome with murderous mania.

Solomos Solomou, a 26-year old man who participated in a demonstration right after Isaac’s funeral, climbed a flagpole to remove a Turkish flag from its mast in Cyprus’ United Nations Buffer Zone. A few moments after trying to climb the flagpole, Solomou was shot and killed in cold blood by a Turkish officer standing in a nearby building.

Solomou was originally from the town of Famagusta, which fell under the control of the Turkish military as a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974.

Like hundreds of thousands of other Cypriots, Solomou and his family became internally displaced persons. They fled to the nearby town of Paralimni, where he grew up with other Greek-Cypriot refugees.

Solomou was th second cousin of Isaac.

The whole incident was taped by journalists who were present and was broadcasted live on Greek and Cypriot television, with millions of people watching the brutal murder live on their screens.

A few days after the incident, the Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis visited Cyprus; together with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, he visited the homes of the families of Isaac and Solomou.

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