Canberra’s Cypriot community hold memorial to honour EOKA freedom fighters

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Canberra’s Cypriot and Greek communities came together on Sunday, March 19 to honour the heroes and heroines of the EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) struggle against British colonial rule from 1955 to 1959.

EOKA was an underground nationalist movement of Greek Cypriot freedom fighters dedicated to ending British colonial rule in Cyprus and to achieving the eventual union (Greek enosis) of Cyprus with Greece.

People at the mnimosino.
High Commissioner Antonis Sammoutis (left) and Georgia Alexandrou (right) with Cypriot youth.

In a statement to The Greek Herald, President of PASEKA (Pan-Australian Justice for Cyprus) and the Cyprus Community of Canberra, Georgia Alexandrou, stressed the importance of EOKA freedom fighters and their actions.

“EOKA heroes were inspired by the Greek Revolution against the Ottomans in 1821 and chose to start their “Agona” on the 1st April 1955, one week after the Greek National Day celebrations,” Ms Alexandrou said.

“EOKA heroes fought for the country’s self-determination against the British, advocating union with Greece. Although a union with Greece was not achieved, in 1960 Cyprus became free of British rule and an independent country.”

These heroes were remembered during a mnimosino service at St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Kingston on Sunday morning.

Mnimosino.

The service was led by Father Petros and was organised by the Cyprus Community of Canberra and SEKA (Justice for Cyprus) ACT.

Throughout the service, children of Cypriot background were dressed in traditional costumes and proudly held the flags of Cyprus and Greece.

In attendance, and witnessing the solemn occasion, were a number of special guests including the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Antonis Sammoutis; the Ambassador of Greece in Australia, George Papacostas; the Deputy Head of Mission at the Cyprus High Commission, Stavros Nicolaou; Colonel Ioannis Fasianos from the Embassy of Greece; President of Justice for Cyprus ACT, Nectaria Volis; President of the Greek Community of Canberra, John Loukadellis; President of the Hellenic Club of Canberra, Andrew Satsias; and Ms Alexandrou.

Church attendees.

Following the mnimosino service, everyone joined in singing the national anthem of Greece before Mr Sammoutis addressed the crowd.

Mr Sammoutis started his message by reading out a statement from the leader of EOKA, General Degeni, encouraging freedom fighters to never give up on Cyprus. He then outlined the will of Greek Cypriots for unification with Greece and how many young lives were sacrificed for this dream.

“We gather every year to commemorate our heroes and to renew our promise to them that we will continue our fight until Cyprus, a member of the European Union, is liberated and unified,” Mr Sammoutis stressed.

The commemoration event concluded with people mingling amongst themselves and remembering those lives lost.

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