Death of Tassos Isaac

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Anastasios "Tassos" Isaac (Greek: Αναστάσιος "Τάσος" Ισαάκ) (1972 – 11 August 1996), was a Greek Cypriot refugee who participated in a civilian demonstration against the Republic of Turkey's military occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus. The demonstrators' demand was for the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island, and the return of Cypriot refugees to their homes. Isaac was killed by a mob of Turkish people in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus.

Tassos Isaac beaten by Grey Wolves.[1]

Events leading to the killing[edit]

In August 1996, in order to commemorate the 22nd year of Cyprus being a divided country, over 200 bikers from several European countries had organized a rally from Berlin (the last divided city in Europe other than Nicosia) to Kyrenia. They left Berlin on 2 August and were planning to arrive at their destination on the 11th where they would be joined by Cypriot bikers. Simultaneously, around 2,500 members of the far right Turkish organization Grey Wolves were being transported to the northern part of Cyprus by the Turkish Government in order to confront the European and Cypriot bikers.[1]

Due to heavy political pressure (even by the U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali) being applied to the Cypriot Motorcycle Federation to cancel the 11 August event, CMF finally succumbed. This was met with disapproval by a large portion of the bikers and other protesters, who decided to march on their own. Among them was Tassos Isaac, who together with other demonstrators, entered the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus near Deryneia, just south of the town of Famagusta.

During the confrontation in the UN buffer zone between the Cypriot bikers and the Turkish Grey Wolves, Isaac found himself trapped in barbed-wire without his co-protesters noticing he was left behind. Soon, a large group of Grey Wolves ran towards him and attacked him. They continued for several minutes, unchallenged by the nearby UN peacekeepers. By the time the Cypriots managed to take him back from the mob, aided by the UN peacekeepers, Tassos Isaac was dead.[2] According to video footage that captured the attack, along with the UN peacekeepers, a number of Turkish Cypriot policemen were also viciously beating him.[3]

Funeral and reactions[edit]

Tassos Isaac's funeral was held on 14 August 1996 and was attended by thousands of people. Protests after the funeral led to the death of Isaac's cousin, Solomos Solomou.

On 22 November 1996, the Cypriot Police issued international arrest warrants for the death of Tassos Isaac against Hasim Yilmaz, a Turkish settler and former member of the Turkish Secret Service, Neyfel Mustafa Ergun, a Turkish settler, serving in the Turkish North Cypriot police, Polat Fikret Koreli, a Turkish Cypriot from Famagusta, Mehmet Mustafa Arslan, a Turkish settler, leader of the Grey Wolves in Northern Cyprus, and Erhan Arikli, a Turkish settler from the former Soviet Union.[4]

Greek government as godparent[edit]

When Isaac was killed, he left behind his pregnant wife. As a token of gratitude for his services to Greece, the Greek government decided to be the godparent of the yet unborn baby. When the baby girl was born, she was baptised Anastasia (after her father) by the then Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Pangalos. The Greek singer Haris Alexiou has dedicated to her the song "Tragoudi tou Helidhoniou" ("Swallow's Song").


  1. ^ a b "DEMONSTRATIONS OF 11 AUGUST 1996". 1996-08-11. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
  2. ^ "Report of the killing from Antenna Radio". Retrieved 2013-12-02.
  3. ^ The Amnesty International Report. Amnesty International Publications. 1997. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Report about the arrest warrants from Cyprus Press and Information Office". Retrieved 2013-12-02.