Bloody Christmas (1963)

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Bloody Christmas (Turkish: Kanlı Noel) is a name usually used in Turkey and Northern Cyprus to describe the outbreak of the tension between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots on the night between 20–21 December 1963.

During the early hours of 21 December 1963, Greek Cypriot police operating within the old Venetian walls of Nicosia demanded to see the identification papers of some Turkish Cypriots who were returning home from an evening out. As word of the incident quickly spread Turkish Cypriot paramilitaries took to the streets. At around twenty past three in the morning, gunshots were reported. By dawn two Turkish Cypriots were dead and eight others, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, were wounded. As the day progressed there were numerous reports of sporadic gunfire around the old town as a large crowd of Turkish Cypriots, many armed, roamed the streets. Initial appeals for calm issued by President Makarios and Vice-President Küçük were ignored and by afternoon the fighting had spread to other parts of the capital. By the next morning, authorities in Larnaca were also reporting violent incidents. However, as evening approached the situation on the island appeared to be calming down. It was a short lived respite. Fighting erupted again the following morning when Greek Cypriot families living in the strategically important Nicosia suburb of Omorphita, which was primarily Turkish Cypriot, came under heavy attack. Soon afterwards conflict broke out in Famagusta when Turkish Cypriot gendarmes attempted to storm their headquarters. Likewise, fighting was reported from Kyrenia.[1]

270 of Turkish Cypriot mosques, shrines and other places of worship were desecrated.[2]

Greek Cypriot irregulars attacked Turkish Cypriots in the mixed villages of Mathlati on 23 December and Ayios Vasilios on 24 December.[3][4] A mass grave was exhumed at Ayios Vasilios on 12 January 1964 in the presence of foreign reporters, Officers of British Army and officials from Red Cross. 21 Turkish Cypriots' bodies were found in this grave. It is presumed that they have been killed in or near Ayios Vasilios on 24 December 1963. It is verified by the observers that a number of the victims appeared to have been tortured, and to have been shot after their hands and feet were tied.[5][6]

Between 21–31 December 1963 up to 133 Turkish Cypriots were killed by Greek Cypriots.[citation needed] 364 Turkish Cypriots and 174 Greek Cypriots were killed in the next years. 18,667 Turkish Cypriots from 103 different villages abandoned their homes.[7][8]


In 2004, Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos said in an interview that no Turkish Cypriots were killed between 1963 and 1974. Reaction to this claim appeared in the Greek and Turkish Cypriot media,[9] with Greek Cypriot media calling Papadopoulos's claim a blatant lie.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James Ker-Lindsay, Britain and the Cyprus Crisis: 1963–1964, p.24
  2. ^ Stephen, Michael. "WHY IS CYPRUS DIVIDED?". Written evidence submitted by Michael Stephen. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Richard A. Patrick, Political Geography and the Cyprus Conflict, 1964–71
  4. ^ the Special News Bulletin, issues 4, 6 and 25.
  5. ^ Richard A. Patrick, Political Geography and the Cyprus Conflict, 1964–71
  6. ^ The incident at Ayios Vasilios is described in the Special News Bulletin, issues 6, 19, 20, 21, 25 and 38. Secondary sources include H.S. Gibbons, 1969, pp. 114–117, 137–140; and K.D. Purcell, 1969, p. 327. To my knowledge, the incident was not reported in the Greek-Cypriot press or the Cyprus Mail. It was covered by most foreign correspondents then in Cyprus.
  7. ^ Oberling, Pierre (1982). The road to Bellapais: The Turkish Cypriot exodus to northern Cyprus. p. 120. ISBN 0880330007. 
  8. ^ Çay, M. Abdulhalûk (1989). Kıbrıs'ta kanlı Noel, 1963. Türk Kültürünü Araştırma Enstitüsü. 
  9. ^ Stavrinides, Zenon (Spring 2009). "The Use of Coping Strategies for Community Traumas" (PDF). The Cyprus Review. 21 (1): 175–186. 
  10. ^ Charalambous, Loucas (12 September 2004). "Does the President have memory problems?". Cyprus Mail. 
  11. ^ STAVRINIDES, ZENON (Spring 2009). "The Use of Coping Strategies for Community Traumas". The Cyprus Review. 21:1: 181.