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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 January 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 JANUARY 2018 3 NEWS Cyprus independence veterans win right to seek damages British government loses first round of legal battle over torture claims MICHAEL SWEET A British court has ruled that 34 Greek Cypriots have the right to seek damages from the UK in relation to claims of torture perpetrated by British soldiers during Cyprus' struggle for independence. In a legal defeat for the British Foreign Office, the high court judge Mr Justice Kerr dismissed the British government's argument that Cypriot law should also apply in the case. The government's motive was that if heard under Cyprus law, which includes a stricter statute of limitations than UK law, legal proceedings would have been difficult to initiate, due to the length of time since the events. During court proceedings, which took place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Justice Kerr said: "… In this case… where a state stands to be held to account for acts of violence against its citizens, it should be held to account in its own courts, by its own law, and should not escape liability by reference to a colonial law it has itself made." The 34 claimants in the case are former members of EOKA, the Greek Cypriot nationalist guerrilla organisation that fought to end British rule in Cyprus in the 1950s. Their lawyers said the judgement meant that the case could "now go full steam to a trial." Solicitor Kevin Konroy told reporters that the ruling was "a significant victory for the claimants ... who have been fighting for recognition of the torture and human rights abuses committed against kicked me, slapped me and hurt me and I only hope they don't find another argument not to do what is right," he said. "The English are cunning. They are as cunning as wolves." Documents released by the them nearly 60 years ago." Mr Konroy said the British government had made "a deliberate attempt to frustrate the claimants from receiving justice… many of them still suffer from the physical and psychological injuries inflicted on them at the time." The EOKA veterans in the case, most in their 80s, and two of whom are women, reacted to the judgement with emotion. Outside the courts, 79-year-old Christos Sokratous told The Guardian: "I feel very strong today, very strongly that after all these years justice finally may come. There aren't many more years left… for a whole month, they beat me, Foreign Office in 2012 have shed new light on the Cyprus insurgency, including admissions by British officers of torture and abuse. Brutality was perpetrated by both sides in the last days of the crown colony, with assassinations by the heavily outnumbered EOKA fighters a bitter feature of the guerrilla campaign. In Australia, the Greek Cypriot community has welcomed the high court's judgement. PASEKA president Constantinos Procopiou told Neos Kosmos: "There are so many fighters in the struggle for freedom who suffered the British tortures, most of them are not alive to claim justice. My father, for example, spent 28 days in the infamous torture prison within the walls of the old city of Famagusta, but he is not alive to claim justice. "Another truth of the struggle for freedom, is that tortures didn't take place only in the torture cells but also outside, in the cities and villages, the schools, the churches, and the houses. Nobody was safe in any part of Cyprus. "I hope justice will be done, not only for the few who sue the British government but the whole of the people of Cyprus." 9 February declared International Greek Language Day The date chosen is also the Dionysios Solomos Commemoration Day The General Consulate of Greece in Melbourne announced on Tuesday that "following the joint decision of the [Greek] ministers of Internal Affairs, Education, Research and Religious Affairs, and Foreign Affairs No.17889 (Official Gazette B' 1384 from 24 April 2017), 9 February, also known as Dionysios Solomos (8 April 1798 - 9 February 1857) Commemoration Day has been declared International Greek Language Day.” The idea for an International Greek Language Day had been pushed through the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad with the cooperation of several Greek diplomatic missions, as well as Greek associations and communities. The Ecumenical Patriarchate together with the Senior Patriarchates and the Archdioceses which support schools or Greek language classes have also been requesting the establishment of the special day which is expected to greatly contribute to the spread of Greek culture. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs is to put together a program of events which, along with their own initiatives, will be proposed to all Greek communities and associations of the di- aspora, or to foreign universities with Greek language studies including other bodies for Greek language learning, even more so those financed by the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad. Initially, UNESCO had been contemplating two dates in September and October, following a suggestion to celebrate the day on either Giorgos Seferis' or Odysseas Elytis' commemoration days. Dionysios Solomos' face may not be adorning Greece's national currency anymore, but Greek culture and language will be internationally and forever intertwined with his name as of 9 February 2018. Dionysios Solomos, the poet who wrote the Greek Hymn to Liberty, adorned Greece’s former official currency, the drachma.
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