‘He almost destroyed the radio cable’

kitap   [On 21st December 1963] a Turkish Cypriot couple had returned to Nicosia late at night and resisted an unwarranted search by a Greek Cypriot patrol. The couple were fired on and brutally murdered – the man died at the scene and his female companion a few hours later in hospital. Civil unrest quickly flared as protesters gathered to express their anger. The protestations resulted in more shootings which continued throughout the day. The violence was enough to encourage leaders from both sides to appeal for calm with little success. Rauf also took immediate action on the same day and visited a school in Nicosia to tell the over-excited teenage boys to remain calm and not endanger their community by becoming embroiled in violent protests. According to their assistant headmaster, Mr. Salih Coşar, after Rauf’s impromptu visit, the boys left in good spirits, deeply moved by Rauf’s speech. As they filed out of the school, a passing police car filled with Greek Cypriot policemen randomly fired into the school yard wounding two of the students. The incidents had coincided with Makarios’ attempt to amend the constitution with his thirteen-point proposal that effectively ousted Turkish Cypriots from having a governing seat and removing their partnership status. Inter-communal violence had begun to rage and Rauf knew that Turkish Cypriots faced an onslaught as he believed the violence towards his community was a premeditated operation to remove them by force as well as politically. He divided his time making appeals to Turkey to intervene whilst visiting make-shift trenches in Nicosia that had become commonplace as a community prepared to defend itself. On 25th December, two days after the fatal shootings in Nicosia, Rauf had seen enough of the trenches and the desperation of poor-armed Turkish Cypriots and went to see Ambassador Mazhar Özkol. The Ambassador listened quietly as Rauf explained he wanted to get a message to Turkey’s Prime Minister, İsmet İnönü, before he slipped Rauf a bit of paper. Rauf hastily scribble a message outlining the dire circumstances and reiterated ‘the agreements had been signed trusting in Turkey’s position as our guarantor’. He received assurances Turkey would be sending a warning volley of Turkish jets that would fly over the ravaged area of Nicosia. Rauf waited on the roof tops of the embassy in anticipation. In his enthusiasm he almost destroyed the live radio communications cable as he attempted to hoist himself up further. Fortunately he was pulled back before he could destroy them and was rewarded with the unmistakable sight and sound of two fearsome F-100 Super Sabre jets flying towards Ledra Palace. **** “Rauf Denktaş: A Private Portrait” by Yvonne Çerkez is available from Okman Printed Limited for an RRP of £9.99

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