August 14, 1996. The assassination of Solomos Solomou.
Three days after the cowardly murder of Tasos Isaac, Turkish Cypriots murder his 26-year-old cousin, Solomos Solomou, in cold blood, while trying to lower the Turkish flag in Deryneia.
On August 14, 1996, the funeral of Tasos Isaac took place, who had been beaten to death by Turkish Cypriots three days earlier in the dead zone near Deryneia, during an anti-occupation demonstration by Cypriot motorcyclists.
Immediately after the funeral, several of those present formed a demonstration and re-entered the dead zone from the same spot, to pay their respects to Isaac, laying wreaths and flowers at the site of his murder.
Among the protesters was 26-year-old Solomos Solomou, Isaac’s second cousin.
He was a refugee from Famagusta and lived in Paralimni.
Around 2:20 p.m., Solomou broke away from the crowd and headed to a nearby Turkish outpost. With a cigarette in his mouth and ignoring the warnings of the Turkish soldiers, he began to climb the flagpole, intending to take down the Turkish flag. At the same time three shots were fired from the side of the occupied and the young man fell dead. He had received three bullets, one in the mouth, one in the neck and one in the stomach, which proved fatal. Other shootings followed, from which 11 people were slightly injured, among them two Blue Helmets. The funeral of Solomos Solomou took place on August 16, 1996, in Paralimni, in the presence of a large number of people, who condemned the Turkish barbarity, as they had done three days earlier with the cowardly murder of Tasos Isaac.
On August 17 , the Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis visited Cyprus, who called the killers of Solomon common criminals. At the same time, the Turkish Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller, was also in the occupied territories, who, speaking before a crowd of Turkish Cypriots, fully justified the act, saying that the Turks will cut off the hands of anyone who insults the national symbol. The answer came from the spokesman of the US Department of State, Nicholas Burns, who stated that “a human life is more important than a piece of cloth”.
The Cypriot Police, relying on visual material (television and photography), managed to identify the perpetrators of the Solomos murder and issued an international arrest warrant for:
- Kenan Akin, Minister of Agriculture of the pseudo-state.
- Erdal Hajiali Emanet, head of special forces in the occupied territories.
- Attila Sav, head of the police of the Occupied Territories.
- Hasan Koundaxi, lieutenant general of the occupying forces.
- Mehmet Karli, brigadier general of the occupying forces.
In October 2004, Akin admitted that he was the one who killed Solomon, but justified that he was ordered by Khalil Sandrazam, then the commander of the occupying forces on the island. With his statements, Sandrazam denied the claims of Akin, who a little later was arrested by the Turkish authorities for smuggling, but was released by order from above.
On June 24, 2008, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Turkey guilty of the murder of Solomon Solomon, under Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. He also awarded monetary compensation to his family.
Solomos’ self-sacrifice inspired many Greek artists. Dionysis Savvopoulos dedicated an earlier song to him, “Ode to Georgios Karaiskakis”, while lyricist Alkis Alkaios dedicated the song “Always Laughing”, set to music by Thanos Mikroutsikos and originally sung by Dimitris Mitropanos.
Stelios Rokos wrote the music for the song “Gia ton Solomos Solomou” (lyrics by Nikos Gritsis) and Notis Sfakianakis sang “Itan Trellos”, with lyrics by Christos Kretsovalis and music by Vassilis Dimas.