An iconic face of the Cyprus Conflict, Nevcihan Oluşum dies aged 84


A Turkish Cypriot woman whose grief-stricken photograph during the Cyprus Conflict made international headlines has passed away. The funeral of Nevcihan Oluşum will take place today in her native Gaziveren in North Cyprus.

Mrs Oluşum inadvertently became the face of the Turkish Cypriot struggle during 11-year Cyprus Conflict when she was snapped in 1964 by Sir Don McCullin, a world-famous British war photographer who had been sent to Cyprus by The Observer to cover the fierce inter-communal battle that was taking place.

McCullin had travelled to Gaziveren, a Turkish Cypriot coastal village in the northwest of the island. The villagers had come under fierce attack from Greek Cypriot forces, which at that time solely controlled the Cyprus army and police following the collapse of the power-sharing government in December 1963. Mrs Oluşum’s husband Hüseyin Niyazi Hasan was among those trying to defend the village.

The photographer was present just as Nevcihan Oluşum discovered her husband had been killed by Greek Cypriots. McCullin captured Mrs Oluşum moments after she received the news, as she looks on in anguish while relatives try to comfort her and her distraught young son Kubilay reaches out his hand to his mother.

The heartfelt photo, which McCullin captioned ‘A Turkish Cypriot woman mourning the death of her husband at Ghaziveram’, brought the photographer his first award: the World Press Photo of the Year in 1964. The image is also featured in his book Shaped by War (2010).

In 2015, Mrs Oluşum became the subject of a documentary, ‘Bir Fotoğrafın Hüznü’ [The sadness of a photograph] by Turkish Cypriot state broadcaster and the Research Centre at Girne American University. The following year, she was named ‘TRNC Mother of The Year’.