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Memoirs of Tassos Abraham Roussias and his sister, Katelos, about the fighting spirit of the time and the horrible tortures

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Reportage / Editing: Dr. Lambros Kaoullas, "Simerini" Newspaper *

The epic of the national liberation, anti-imperialist, unifying struggle of EOKA 1955-59 gave heroes, martyrs and many fighters, some prominent but others invisible, with different scope of action.

In a report in the newspaper "Simerini" Dr. Lambros Kaoullas records the memories of some moments of an invisible and modest fighter, Tasou Abraham Russia, from Paralimni. His story adds another piece of understanding of the heroic spirit of the time and the pure motives that pushed the Cypriot Hellenism to the national uprising.

Ο Tasos Rousias was born into a large rural family in Paralimni in 1939 and had 7 brothers. He attended the Hellenic High School of Famagusta until the third grade, and then was hired by Shell in Varosi. Roussias worked as a driver at the oil company. After the invasion, he will become one of the most famous bakers in the area.

EOKA and arrest in 1958

Tassos was one of the youngest members of the organization in Paralimni, responsible for distributing leaflets and providing support to the biggest fighters. He remembers that they lived for purposes in houses, like in Dude or at his home master-Michalis, and monitored the area to alert other militants to British movements. "I was a team leader in some way. I grabbed the bike to go from one outpost to the other outpost ".

The British arrested him Russia along with others in October 1958. According to Demosthenes of Sparta, who was arrested together with Rousias, the development was the result of betrayal ("Paralimni: History-Culture", Proceedings of the 2nd Conference, Municipality of Paralimni, 2011, p. 351). The Leader of EOKA George Grivas-DigenisAt "EOKA Chronicle Race 1955-59", released in 1971, states: «On 9/10/1958.- Kerfiou. G. K. Pogiatzis, Demosthenes Spartiatis, Tasos Avr. Rousia, George N. Stavri, Nikolas Viktoras, Andreas Mich. Σκαπούλλαρου. The group of wanted persons who were in Agios Memnon, Makis A. Markou, Demosthenes Katsouris, Thomas Hatzinikolaou and Georgios Kalogirou, were thinking of beating any vehicle that would come from Paralimni at night in Deryneia. The police car when it arrived in Deryneia received the grenades of the village group. The Police immediately stopped this, protected from the grenade explosions. The arrested Demosthenes Spartiatis was inside the car, so that, taking advantage of the confusion, he got out of the car and started running ".

His sister, Katelou Russia, born in 1935, remembers the time of her brother's arrest. The British, who may have had information, identified the area with very low reconnaissance flights to locate suspicious cars. He remembers that at the time of his arrest he was washing wheat and Tassos was returning holding leaflets of the organization. He was arrested by armed British and Turkish police, the latter in the role of interpreter for Greek.

At the time they arrested him Tasso, a neighbor's grandmother, the Catello from the genus Triaro, reacted to his arrest and spontaneously recited this poem:

"Grow our Cyprus bloodthirsty English,
do you want us to eat our efforts by force?
Ai Panteleimon jiai Saints Saranda,
so do you always have them with us?
Encourage them to blow, to curse,
to rest on that island that will blow them away ".

The British apparently wanted to know who was behind the recent attacks on Paralimni where many members of EOKA participated. On October 1, 1958, a large group of villagers attacked a convoy of the 751st British Royal Air Force (RAF) XNUMX Transmission Unit, which was headed from the Cape Greco military base in Varosi via Paralimni.

Ο Digenes states that in the ambush "The Theoris Siakkas, George Kalogirou, Thomas Chatzinikolaou, Makis L. Markou, Demosthenes Katsouris, George Mallouri, Stathis A. Stathis, George K. Pogiatzis, Andreas Maouri, Pavlos A. Markou, Demosthenes of Sparta, Kostakis Tsissiou, Doros L. Chatzizacharia. Marked: Anastasios G. Russia [cousin of Tassos A. Rousias], Zamoras, Theodoros Kolokoudia, G. Fystoukas, Spyros Katsiari, Yagos Moulazimis and in general all the members of the National Guard ". The British blew up his van Anastasi Pyrilli.

On the 6th of October «Mine placed under the G. K. Pogiatzis and Anastasi G. Rousia on the street near a cinema, inside the village and fired under it Anastasi G. Rousia completely destroyed a military vehicle and caused damage to another. It is believed that no one survived the first ".

Horrible torture

Leading for him at the time of his involvement in the Struggle was his arrest and the torture he suffered. They were detained for a total of 18 days in Famagusta. The first five days they suffered horrible sufferings: "Torture! No lies! Once we say, "if possible !?". "Because I went through it, they did as much as possible and you can do more than you can imagine."

The torturers were British and Turkish Cypriot aides. He was in the room with 5 other detainees. In one case, he was tied to a bed without a mattress. An Englishman was sitting on his chest and he was putting old clothes in his mouth and they were pouring water with dirt through his nose, while another was punching him in the abdomen. In one case, characterized by the sadism of the torturers, he was seized by the occult. Strong as he was, from the reaction to the pain he broke the handcuffs on his legs and turned them over on him. When they got up, the beatings started again.

In another case, they left them alone in their underwear and held for hours a huge stone above their head. This left him with a permanent injury.

"The above Turks knew me because where I worked we had alisverisi with them. Siemmetis came, a tortured Turk I knew from work. He came there, as I was lying there, with my boots on and he was kicking me in the abdomen. And I knew him. We used to eat together. There was another policeman, a Sergeant, a Turk and he knew me, God bless him, if it were not for him, the other one would have kicked me by now. He was a lad, like the door, he came and grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him back, "yok, should you kill him?" and from there on we escaped and stayed another 13 days and then they left us and we left ".

He notes that not all of them were allowed to leave and some were taken to the Detention Center. After their release, "They pulled us back from the Organization for a couple of months because there was a fear that we might not say a word and then they brought us back into the Organization."

He believes that he was a strong man but also God's help strengthened him to endure severe torture. Before leaving, they brought 13 detainees from Gialousa. "When they did not beat us, they brought them and beat them." Siemmetis thought that one of them was from Paralimni. He says to him "will you tell us where Demosthenes has his weapons?". The child tells him "I know, but in you". Great conversation, man, tell him at such a time, they got angry. He started to blush. When you're out and about, you hurt more. Because the moment you go inside, you are beaten, one by one, sometimes you are sedated. While the one who listens from outside and waits "oh, but in me who will go inside now?". We told them "I know, I know" and give him the wood ".

Poems of Passive Resistance

Ms. Catello remembers when during the feast, English and Turkish Cypriots told their father Abraham that he would no longer have a son Tasso and he answered them, clapping his hand on the table: "I told you I had one and I have one. And you will regret it for an hour, but it will be too late. We are not for sale, we are Greeks ". Characteristic of the spirit of the time, she said that she knew a lot about the action of EOKA, which she heard when she went to fetch water from the tap, but she never spoke. This was the general spirit in the village.

He recited a chant for the Passive Resistance that the poet said Pavlos Pittatzis, which her father immediately noted while telling some young people who played billiards:

"An invention was found, Passive Resistance for the good of the place.
But he wants the will and the patience of man.
First, the card game must stop.
People to comply, to be homely if they want to be happy.

Secondly, I want to tell you about the fun.
How should we not drink in such situations.
To keep our rials, along with our health, in other circumstances.

Third, let each of us embrace each other.
To offer our rials to English employees.

Fourth, what the government in Cyprus brings,
whether we approach them or buy them, yes, take them back.

Fifth, you know well, Cyprus produces us,
the three main bread, potato, oil.
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either.
Yes, this work can go on indefinitely.

Sixth, if we cut off her interests,
Whenever possible you should have all four of these components in place for launch to maximize profits.
This is what the Indians did, who were careless, lazy, and then woke up,
Yes, their freedom, their history writes, that is how they won it.

Ji we who are Greeks, Cypriots born,
To remain in suffering, eternally enslaved?
No! We will fight, I hope we win, we will be liberated,
Ji gums let me think that in arming.
Because in ji they have our giams to go and catch the English to hit.

Passive Resistance, in war yes this.
The British frighten her because she is just as strong with a bomb.
Ji aman mix together toda thkyo, blessed day,
their place is obvious, yes, it's about to be done,
Cyprus is free ".

Independence & riots 1963-64

"Blessed is Diogenes, yet the leadership that brought independence to our Cyprus", this is how Ms. Katelou remembers people saying.

After independence, information about the equipment of the Turkish Cypriots and TMT was known in the wider province of Famagusta, something that was discussed, as was the case throughout Cyprus.

Ο Tassos was the recipient of such primary information observing his Turkish Cypriot friends with whom he was cooperating before December 1963. "I knew many Turks because of my job, I entered and in Famagusta where I took their oil, I had a pass from the British. I transported oil for the supply of steamers and boats, in the port we fed the English. "And we saw what was happening."

He was also among the former fighters and volunteers who were briefed by EDMA agents on briefings on the Turkish Cypriot preparations but did not receive weapons training.

His testimony is typical of the chaos that prevailed after the beginning of the Turkantarsia: "At the last moment when the riots took place, they said that the Turks came out and we were in Paralimni. We were there in PEK, come on, let's go down, stop the Turks from coming to the city. Then there were not many cars, there were few cars, I went because many times I took a bus and made a line for the workers from Paralimni in the morning and brought them back at night. We went to catch the bus, it did not have a key on it. I caught a glimpse and I knew ways and I started it. We arrived at PEK, they had a shop then that had shovel shells, wood and more and we loaded them. Only with wood, we had no reinforcement. These first days after the riots in Nicosia. We went down to the Grocery in Varosi, there were others there, we stopped there and the Turks did not leave Porta, they were there. We stayed there, gave a tour of Savoy, when we saw that he had nothing, the others, the older ones, told us, go back, the Turks are locked inside the walls. And we returned to Paralimni ".

He then explains how the organization of these volunteers began: "Then they made us groups and we went to 7 people in each place. The first time we were taken to the church of Agia Zoni and we stayed there, I think for a week. We did not leave without an order. An order came to go to Kato Varosi, above it was the Turkish school and the Police. They moved us there and the 7, there were other teams but I'm talking about ours. We stayed there for a month. "We went at night and during the day we went to work."

The teams were organized by the oldest EOKA fighters in the area, with whom they kept in touch and during the preparation they called them and informed them about everything: go to that place, you will stay, you will not mind the houses, be careful, if you see something to warn. That's how the teams were, no month and then, if I remember correctly, to avoid the houses, they made us clean the old British camp "Golden Sand".

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The "pass" that allowed him free access to the Port of Famagusta

The leader of the volunteers who took over the organization of the camp was the Captain of the Cyprus Army Kikis Konstantinou, graduate of the Military School of Guards. "He was the one who trained us in weapons, how to handle them, how to dismantle the bra and set it up, he was our leader in there, we saw him in the camp.". The volunteers spent the night in the camp and in the morning went to work, with some remaining to guard it. A Cypriot officer of the Greek Army also provided them with training. Other weapons were martinis and straits. Mr. Rousias remembers that they had also collected the hunting items from Paralimni, but did not give them to them. "They caught the hunting rifles from all the villagers then and the Police guarded them just in case." He did not have his own weapon and was not issued a "special police" ID. The reason is that because of his job he was circulating in the Turkish districts of Famagusta and they knew him and so he did not want to be found with a gun on him.

For the spirit of the time, everyone wanted to go and few were afraid. Nevertheless, he maintained friendly relations with Turkish Cypriot acquaintances, except for his torturer.

Land rover with siren

Ο Kikis Konstantinou had given him a military siren, like those of the Fire Brigade, so that in an emergency to activate it in the laundry rover of work for alarm. An example of his contribution as a volunteer was the recognition and information of volunteer leaders, such as the militant teacher Maki Markou, for the positions of the Turks in Varosi.

* Police Studies, Open University of Cyprus

(published in "Simerini tis Kyriakis", 28/02/2021, column "Defense & Security Stories")