In memory of Tassos Isaac – We will never forget!

“What is courage? What defines a courageous act? It is said that the brave and cowardly person are both fearful. However, it is the brave one who faces his fear and does what needs to be done. We will be faced with many things that scare us throughout our lives. How can we become the kind of people that face our fear and do it anyway? Human growth takes place when we take small steps. Each time we face our fears we become more of the courageous person that we would like to be.

Today hellasfrappe commemorates Anastasios (Tassos) Isaac (Greek: Αναστάσιος (Τάσος) Ισαάκ) (1972 – 11 August 1996), a Greek Cypriot refugee that participated in a civilian demonstration against the Turkish occupation of Cyprus with the demand of the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops. Unfortunately he was brutally murdered by a mob of members of Turkey’s fanatic and barbaric Grey Wolves (Grizi Lykoi) group in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus and this whole event was caught live on television at the time. He is considered a national hero in Cyprus and Greece for standing up for what he believed in… and Hellenes everywhere will always reflect to his courage and honor!

Events leading to the murder

In August 1996, in order to commemorate the 22nd year of Cyprus being a divided country, over 200 bikers from several European countries had organized a rally from Berlin (the last divided city in Europe except Nicosia) to Kyrenia. They left Berlin on the 2nd of August and were planning to arrive at their destination on the 11th where they would be joined by Cypriot bikers. Simultaneously, around 2,500 members of the right-wing organization Grey Wolves were planning to travel to the occupied north of Cyprus from Turkey in order to confront the European and Cypriot bikers.

Due to heavy political pressure (even by the U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali) being applied to the Cypriot Motorcycle Federation to cancel the 11th August event, CMF finally succumbed. This was met with disapproval by a large portion of the bikers and other protesters, who decided to march on their own. Among them was Tassos Isaac, who together with other demonstrators, entered the UN buffer zone near Deryneia, just south of the occupied town of Famagusta.

A report by the UN, states that demonstrators crossed the UN buffer zone and entered Turkish Forces cease-fire line. The report by the UN also states “Although the situation became very tense, UNFICYP managed to keep it under control, not least because the TF (Turkish Forces) and TCPE (Turkish Cypriot Police Element) acted in a very disciplined and restrained manner despite considerable verbal provocation from the demonstrators.”

During the confrontation in the UN buffer zone between the Cypriot bikers and the Turkish Grey Wolves, Isaac found himself trapped in barbed-wire without his co-protesters noticing he was left behind. Soon, a large group of Grey Wolves ran towards him and attacked him violently. They continued for several minutes, unchallenged by the nearby UN peacekeepers. However UN Peacekeepers were not legally allowed into Turkish land. By the time the Cypriots managed to take him back from the mob aided by the UN Peacekeepers, Tassos Isaac was dead.

The funeral and reactions

Tassos Isaac’s funeral was held on the 14th of August and was attended by thousands of people. Protests after the funeral led to the murder of Isaac’s cousin, Solomos Solomou.

On the 22nd of November 1996, the Cypriot Police issued international arrest warrants for the murder of Tassos Isaac against Hasim Yilmaz, a Turkish settler and former member of the Turkish Secret Service, Neyfel Mustafa Ergun, a Turkish settler, serving in the Turkish North Cypriot police, Polat Fikret Koreli, a Turkish Cypriot from Famagusta, Mehmet Mustafa Arslan, a Turkish settler, leader of the Grey Wolves in the occupied areas and Erhan Arikli, a Turkish settler from the former Soviet Union.

Greek government as godparent

When Isaac was killed, he left behind his pregnant wife. As a token of gratitude for his services to the Greek nation, the Hellenic Republic decided to be the godparent of the yet unborn baby. When the baby girl was born, she was baptised Anastasia (after her father), by the then Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Pangalos. The Greek singer Haris Alexiou has dedicated to her the song “Tragoudi tou Helidhoniou” (“Swallow’s Song”).

“Το αίμα των δολοφονημένων θα κυνηγάει 
πάντα όσους δολερώς σχεδιάζουν 
να ξεπουλήσουν την Κύπρο μας!”

Α Θ Α Ν Α Τ Ο Σ !



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