Death of Solomos Solomou

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Solomos Solomou after the shot

Solomos Solomou (Greek: Σολωμός Σολωμού; 1970 – 14 August 1996) was a Greek Cypriot refugee who was killed after being shot in the head by a Turkish officer while trying to climb a flagpole in order to remove a Turkish flag from its mast in the United Nations Buffer Zone near Deryneia, Cyprus.[1][2][3] The killing occurred in the aftermath of the funeral of Solomou's cousin Tassos Isaac, who was also murdered a few days earlier by Turkish nationalists belonging to the militant Grey Wolves organization.[4]

Early life[edit]

Solomos Solomou was originally from the town of Famagusta (Ammohostos), which fell under the control of the Turkish military as a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974. Like hundreds of thousands of other Cypriots, Solomou and his family became internally displaced persons. They fled to the nearby town of Paralimni, where he grew up with other Greek Cypriot refugees.

Death during 1996 demonstrations[edit]

Following the funeral of Tassos Isaac, who was beaten to death by a Turkish mob in the UN buffer zone three days earlier, a group of unarmed Greek Cypriots re-entered the area where Isaac was murdered in order to demonstrate.

Among these demonstrators was Solomou who was a second cousin of Isaac.[5] At around 2:20 pm, Solomou distanced himself from the rest of the demonstrators and walked towards a Turkish military post in Deryneia with a cigarette in his mouth. Ignoring the warnings by Turkish soldiers, Solomou climbed the flagpole with the intention of removing the Turkish flag but he was shot by Turkish soldiers three times; in the mouth, in the neck and in the stomach.[3] The whole scene was taped by bystanding journalists and was seen on live television. Solomou's funeral was held on 16 August in Paralimni, among thousands of people and an official Cypriot day of mourning.

A few days after the killings of Isaac and Solomou, the then Prime Minister of Greece, Costas Simitis visited Cyprus and together with the then President of Cyprus, Glafcos Clerides, visited the homes of the families of the two cousins.

For her part, the then Turkish foreign minister Tansu Çiller, who also visited Cyprus a few days after Isaac and Solomou were killed, addressed a rally saying that Turks would "break the hands" of anyone who insulted their flag.

Identification of perpetrators[edit]

According to Cyprus Police, Solomou's killers were identified using photographic evidence as Kenan Akin and Erdal Haciali Emanet, respectively the first Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the second Chief of Special Forces in Northern Cyprus. Warrants were issued by the Republic of Cyprus for their arrest and that of three others: Attila Sav, Chief of Police of Northern Cyprus, Hasan Kundakci, Lt. Gen. of the Turkish Cypriot Security Force and Mehmet Karli, Maj. Gen. of the Turkish Army.[6][7] In October 2004, Kenan Akin, wanted by Interpol for the murder of Solomou, said the former Turkish Military Commander Halil Sadrazam had given the order to shoot. Sadrazam denied the accusation.[8] Akin was later arrested in Istanbul on unrelated smuggling charges. He was later released by the Turkish authorities despite being wanted for murder by Interpol, prompting a question on Turkey's judicial cooperation by Dimitrios Papadimoulis, a left-wing Greek member of the European Parliament.[9]

British soldiers wounded[edit]

During this demonstration, two British soldiers on UN duties, Bombardier Neil Emery and Gunner Jeff Hudson (39 Regiment Royal Artillery), were wounded.


The photo of Solomou climbing the Turkish flagpole has often been used as symbol of protest against Turkey's military occupation [10] of northern Cyprus. Solomou's courage was praised by a number of Greek politicians, and several prominent Greek composers and singers dedicated their songs to him. Dionysis Savvopoulos dedicated Odi sto Georgio Karaiskaki, Dimitris Mitropanos and Thanos Mikroutsikos dedicated Panta gelastoi and Stelios Rokkos dedicated Gia to Solomo Solomou.[11] The 2009 Notis Sfakianakis song Itan Trellos from the album Matomeno Dakry directly deals with Solomou's death and the ongoing Turkish occupation of Cyprus.

He is considered a national hero in Greece and Cyprus,[12][13] where he is often referred to as a "hero-martyr" (Greek: ηρωομάρτυρας).[14][15][16] On 24 June 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of Solomou's family in the case of "Solomou and others v. Turkey".[1][2]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b European Court of Human Rights: Rulings Against Turkey Law Library of Congress, 2 July 2008.
  2. ^ a b Solomou v. Turkey Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Netherlands Institute of Human Rights
  3. ^ a b HRI Report with video of the killing. Retrieved on 14 August 2011.
  4. ^ "Arrest warrant against Mehmet Mustafa Arslan, the leader of Grey Wolves in Northern Cyprus".
  5. ^ "Embassy of Cyprus to the US Report".
  6. ^ "Arrest Warrants Issued in Murder of Solomou, Cyprus US Embassy Newsletter".
  7. ^ Antenna News in English, of 11 September 1996, Cyprus Retrieved on 31 January 2007.
  8. ^ "Former occupation regime so-called Minister and a Peace and Democracy Movement so-called MP accuse each other for the murder of Solomos Solomou".
  9. ^ "Execution of arrest warrant for Kenan Akin, the murderer of the Cypriot Solomos Solomou".
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 May 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2014. United Nations Security Council resolution 550: "Gravely concerned about the further secessionist acts in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus which are in violation of resolution 541(1983), namely the purported "exchange of Ambassadors" between Turkey and the legally invalid "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" and the contemplated holding of a "Constitutional referendum" and "elections", as well as by other actions or threats of action aimed at further consolidating the purported independent state and the division of Cyprus".
  11. ^ "Zülfü Livaneli's article on the allegations (tr)".
  12. ^ "Greek Army Staff Officers Union calls Isaac and Solomou ήρωες (=heroes) (Gr)".
  13. ^ "Greek newspaper Ta Nea refers to Solomou as ήρωας (=hero) (Gr)".
  14. ^ "Cypriot newspaper refers to Solomou (and Isaac) as ηρωομάρτυρες (="heroes-martyrs") (Gr)".
  15. ^ "Cyprus Minister calls Isaac and Solomou ηρωομάρτυρες (="heroes-martyrs") (Gr)".
  16. ^ "Cyprus News Agency refers to Solomou as ηρωομάρτυρα ("hero-martyr") (Gr)".

External links[edit]