Turkish Cypriots on Monday honored 11 children massacred by the Greek Cypriot EOKA terrorist group on Aug.11, 1974, as part of an anti-Turkish campaign on the island.
The children, the youngest of whom was 3 years old and the oldest 17, whose remains were identified by the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, were buried in individual graves with a state ceremony.
On Aug. 11, 1974, Greek Cypriots massacred Turkish Cypriot women and children in the villages of Muratağa and Sandallar, currently in the southeastern part of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
After 47 years, the process to identify the remains of the children, buried in a mass grave, has finally been completed.
Addressing the ceremony, TRNC President Ersin Tatar said they are all sorrowful. "They made no discrimination among women, children and babies, massacring innocent civilians. They believed they could exterminate us, but as we stand here before our martyrs, we say to the world that we will not return to pre-1974 conditions," he said.
"Turkey's active and effective guarantees must continue so that we may live freely, independently and in security. The presence of the Turkish Armed Forces is the sole security and assurance of the Turkish Cypriot people."
Tatar reiterated that Turkish Cypriots would never accept an imposed settlement or become a minority within a Greek Cypriot state.
During EOKA's terror campaign of the 1963 Christmas season, 374 Turkish Cypriots were killed, 109 Turkish villages were forced to evacuate, over 2,500 Turkish houses were severely damaged or demolished, and between 25,000 and 30,000 Turkish Cypriots became refugees, according to a U.N. report released on Sep. 10, 1964.
While Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration support a federation on Cyprus, Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) insist on a two-state solution that reflects the realities on the island.
The island has been divided since 1964 when ethnic attacks forced the Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, despite most Greek Cypriots rejecting a U.N. settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the European Union.