Isaac-Solomou memorial procession
21 years on, Cypriot motorcyclists “Don't Forget” their murders
August 1996. At the time that barricades in Cyprus were still closed and moving between free and occupied regions was restricted, Cyprus Motorcycles Federation, in cooperation with the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations, organised a pan-European demonstration against the Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island. The starting point was Berlin, a recently reunified town, with the occupied harbour of Kyrenia to be the ending point of the procession. With their demonstration the motorcyclists' Federations, 22 years after the Turkish invasion, were striving to remind Europeans the international dimension of the Cyprus problem.
On the 2nd of August 1996, approximately 150 motorcyclists from 13 countries started their peaceful demonstration under the slogan “a world without frontiers – live free – ride free”. They were planning to arrive in Piraeus port one week later, on the 10th of August, and travel by sea to Limassol. The following day, August 11th, thousands of Cypriot motorcyclists from the free territories would join the procession towards Dherynia checkpoint, in order to enter the Turkish occupied territory and march until Kyrenia.
But the procession would never reach the final destination since the firearms, the crowbars, the cudgels, the battens and the hatchets of the Turkish Cypriot “police” forces, the Turkish troops, the “indignant” Turkish Cypriot nationalists and the “Grey Wolves” paramilitaries would stop the demonstrators in Dherynia. In a violent confrontation, Greek Cypriot hero Tassos Isaac was brutally beaten to death, trying to save four protesters that were trapped inside the UN Buffer Zone and attacked mercilessly by the outraged crowd.
Three days later, while the ground was still damp by the bloodshed and after the burial of the slain Tassos, a group of motorcyclists were moving once again to the scene of the murder, near Dherynia checkpoint, to pay tribute to his memory. On the eve of the Dormition of Virgin Mary no one was boding ill for what was going to follow.
One group of UN peacekeepers was standing by the gateway of a Turkish military post asking the protesters to move back. Suddenly, a young man broke the peacekeepers' line and crossed the barbed-wire like a tornado. The red flag with the crescent was reminding him of his cousin Tassos' blood. This rag was never belonging to his homeland. It should be torn down!
The brave man climbed on the flagpole with a cigarette still burning on his lips. Just before he catches the flag was fatally injured by a burst of gunfire. Solomos Solomou became the second martyr in the years of “peace”...
During the last years, Cypriot motorcyclists have established the Isaac-Solomou Memory Initiative that organises the motorcyclists' procession, in memory of those two heroes of Dherynia, every year in August. This year's demonstrations are commenced on Friday, 4th of August, with a two-day ride along the Green Line, from Paphos to Dherynia. The motorcycle march will pass through border villages, Limnitis, Astromeritis, Ayios Dometios, Ledra Palace and Ledra's street checkpoints, Makedonitissa Tomb and the Imprisoned Graves.
The motorcyclists will proceed in a symbolic block of the passage through the checkpoints and distribution of informational materials. The procession will end up in Dherynia checkpoint on Sunday, 6th of August, where the motorcyclists will commemorate Tasos Isaac and Solomos Solomou sacrifice.
* For more information about the procession please call 99626989.
* Most of the photos included in the photo gallery have been taken in the last year's procession in memory of Tassos Isaac and Solomos Solomou that started from Berlin and crossed all Eastern Europe.