Greek Cypriot 'martyr' given hero's funeral

UN peacekeepers on red alert as tension wracks divided island

The 26-year-old Greek Cypriot shot dead earlier this week while trying to tear down the Turkish flag was given a hero's funeral yesterday as the political and religious establishment joined forces to halt lethal clashes in the divided island's buffer zone.

In front of a banner that read "Freedom or Death", children aged just three or four applauded with the crowd of thousands as the coffin draped in a Greek flag arrived at Paralimni church with a police band escort, just three miles from the ceasefire line where Turkish Cypriot forces gunned down unemployed builder Solomos Spyros Solomou with five bullets.

While UN peacekeepers were on red alert at the buffer zone in Dherenia, hundreds of members of the Greek Cypriot anti-terrorist squad and anti- riot police were on standby and formed a barricade with their jeeps to avoid a repetition of the clashes on Wednesday in which Mr Solomou was killed after an emotional funeral for another young "martyr" killed just three days earlier.

The police show of force appeared to serve as a deterrent this time for the 40 protesters who turned up at Dherenia and instead sat down to sing Greek protest songs.

"The people are just waking up from a deep sleep of 22 years," since the Turkish army invaded the northern third of Cyprus, said publisher Vassos Ptohopoulos. "The actions will not stop. Every 20 or 30 years we wake up like a volcano, the British have experienced that" when Cyprus was a colony.

Several young Greek Cypriots said they were more than ready to follow Mr Solomou's example. "There are lots of Solomous here. We're all ready to follow him," said Alexis Cosmo, a 25-year-old truck driver from the coastal town of Paphos who is also a refugee from Famagusta like Mr Solomou.

Standing next to bemused Scandinavian tourists, a 20-year-old woman student from Nicosia said she only wished she could join the Green Line protesters, who are almost exclusively male.

"I will never believe Kyrenia is lost for ever. All the people of my age believe that," she said, referring to the picturesque harbour town which is firmly in the hands of Turkish Cypriots. Her mother's house is there, but she has never seen it.

The old men huddled at a distance in a coffee shop were less impressed by the semi-state funeral being accorded to Mr Solomou, who many in his home town remembered as a "good boy but a bit simple".

As the bikers paid tribute with a deafening revving of their engines the older generation agreed that the government had not done enough to stop the escalation since a symbolic Berlin-to-Kyrenia bikers rally last Sunday that triggered the worst violence on the island in more than two decades.

"There must be something behind all this, behind what the bikers started, and it can't do us any good. We can't possibly fight the Turks this way," said a farmer, referring to what some are already calling the Cypriot intifada.

Inside the church, Archbishop Chrysostomos, normally a Hellenistic firebrand, called for "some calm, for the sake of the mothers", but he still urged the Greek dignitaries present to "help us sing the Greek national anthem in Kyrenia".

The Cypriot president, Glafcos Clerides, who attended Wednesday's funeral, was not to be seen at the funeral last night. Neither was Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who had earlier said he would be there for Mr Solomos's burial. Both apparently stayed away in an attempt to cool nationalist passions.

Mr Simitis is to fly to the island today instead to boost morale and join a Cypriot national council meeting

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own