This week the English Queen awarded a belated posthumous medal to a young British soldier killed in Cyprus in 1956. He was just 19 and died when a bomb exploded the news reports said he was undertaking ‘peacekeeping’ duties.
Now ANY young mans death is a sad loss not least to the family but in 1956 the United Kingdom were not undertaking PEACEKEEPING in Cyprus they were engaged in a bitter war with the liberation movement EOKA which was fighting to free the Island from British colonial oppression.
Coincidentally this year – in a few weeks time – will mark the 60th anniversary of the death of another 19 year old young man but the circumstances of his death are very different because he was judicially murdered by the British.
Greek Cypriot, Evagoras Pallikarides believed in the ideal of freedom long before the EOKA campaign began. In 1953 at age 15 as a High School student he participated in a boycott of the celebrations on Cyprus to mark the coronation of the English Queen. He also personally removed a Union Flag from his school. Also before his involvement with EOKA in 1955 he intervened to stop two British servicemen who had tied a Cypriot student to a post and were beating him.
Later when involved in the EOKA struggle Pallikarides was detained for carrying firearms.
At his trial Pallikarides did not deny possession of the weapon. He said he did what he had to do as a Greek Cypriot seeking his freedom telling the Court “I know you will sentence me to death, but whatever I did, I did as a Cypriot who wants his liberty”.
He was sentenced to death by hanging for firearms possession on February 27, 1957. Pallikarides was hanged on March 14, 1957, at the age of 19. The lawfulness of his execution has been subsequently questioned in light of the fact that the weapon held by Pallikarides at the time was not functional.
Pallikarides is also known for the poetic legacy he left behind. Most of his poems have the theme of either nature or the struggle for freedom. A number of his poems have been set to music. The most prominent example is the poem that Pallikarides left behind for his classmates before joining EOKA. The first verse reads:
‘I’ll take an uphill road
I’ll take the paths
To find the stairs
That lead to freedom’
Many other Greek Cypriots were hanged; at least 14 died under torture and hundreds of others were tortured by the British security forces.
Image: Evagoras Pallikarides, patriot, freedom fighter and poet
Related link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evagoras_Pallikarides
pp Celtic League.