This year’s Peace and Freedom Day, celebrated annually on 20 July, will be a more subdued affair following the foiled military coup in Turkey last week, which left at least 290 people dead.
Details of the revised programme, released earlier today, show many official events have been cancelled.
A national holiday in Cyprus, 20 Temmuz (20 July) marks the day Turkey intervened to save them by repelling a brutal coup orchestrated by the Greek military junta five days earlier on 15 July 1974, which deposed President Makarios and killed hundreds of Cypriots.
Due to sombre atmosphere following the events in Turkey, various festivities have been cancelled. Among them are a concert by Mustafa Ceceli at Yavuz Çıkarma Plajı in Girne (where Turkish troops landed on 20 July 1974), fireworks and a performance by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Janissary Band, which were all due to take place on 19 July.
That same evening, a performance of Barışa Çağrıydı (‘It Was A Call To Peace’) at Girne Castle has also been called off. In addition, there will be no folk dancing or air acrobatic display on 20 July.
An evening public reception held by President Mustafa Akıncı on Peace and Freedom Day, and official dinners hosted by Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün and the Speaker of the TRNC Assembly Sibel Siber have also been cancelled.
Revised 20 Temmuz programme
The revised programme for 42nd year Peace and Freedom Day will start tomorrow, 19 July, at noon when 21 cannons will be fired. President Akıncı will then address the nation with an address broadcast on BRT.
In the evening, memorial services will be held at the Martyrs Cemetery in Boğaz, Girne, as well as at the resting places of Dr. Fazıl Küçük and Rauf Raif Denktaş, who both played critical roles in the Turkish Cypriot struggle.
This year’s Dawn Watch (Şafak Nöbeti) will start at the later time of 23.30. Now in its seventh year, thousands of people are expected to gather on the roadside by Yavuz Çıkarma Plajı before making their way down to the beach an hour later to wait for dawn, when Turkish troops landed 42 years ago. Early morning prayers will be led by the imams in memory of those who died or were injured as they sought to bring peace to Cyprus in the summer of 1974.
Wreaths will be laid at major monuments across the TRNC, including the Atatürk Statue and Martyrs Monument in Lefkoşa, the Victory Monument in Mağusa, and the Atatürk Statue in Güzelyurt. At each, flags will be raised, a minute’s silence held before the Turkish national anthem is sung.
A stripped down version of the 20 Temmuz parade will occur down Lefkoşa’s main Dr. Fazıl Küçük boulevard. It will commence at 09.30 with a minute’s silence and the national anthem. Speeches will be made by President Akıncı and representatives from the Turkish government, followed by a procession by civilians and military personnel.
World record attempt
Turkish diver Cem Karabey’s record-breaking effort to remain under for six consecutive days is already underway. The diver already holds the world record for staying underwater for 72 hours. He entered the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Girne on 14 July intending to smash his own record by breathing, eating and drinking underwater for 142 hours. He is expected to resurface at 01.00 on 20 July.
Other events taking place on Peace and Freedom Day include a Freedom Rally, with boats departing from Girne Harbour and Karpaz Bay Marina. A TRNC Master Footballers Tournament is being held at Girne’s Pia Bella football pitch. Other sports tournaments, including table tennis, Taekwondo and fishing, will run until 24 July.
Main photo of Dawn Watch / Şafak Nöbeti in 2010, taken by Hüseyin Sayıl.