Ever since the Turkish invasion in 1974, incidents have flared up along the Green Line. Two of the worst happened in 1996. That year was the 22nd anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and to mark the occasion over two hundred bikers left Berlin to ride to Lefkosia in order to demonstrate against the occupation. Under pressure from the UN, the bikers were persuaded not to cross into north Cyprus. However, on August 11, a group of Greek-Cypriot demonstrators ignored this and entered the Buffer Zone near Deryneia. Facing them were several hundred members of the Grey Wolves, a Turkish far-right group, as well as military personnel armed with batons. During the confusion, a young Greek Cypriot called Tassos Isaac was surrounded by a mob and beaten to death. Three days later, on August 14, during further demonstrations sparked by Isaac’s funeral, Solomos Solomou, a relative of Isaac, climbed a flagpole in the Buffer Zone to pull down a Turkish flag. He was shot three times and died at the scene.

The two murders had several consequences. They represented a spectacular public relations own goal for Turkey and the north, having occurred in front of a scrum of journalists and photographers there to cover the demonstrations. The killers of both young Greek Cypriots were easily identified from numerous photographs and videos taken at the scene: Isaac was killed by a combination of Turkish settlers and Turkish Cypriots, Solomou by none other than the minister of agriculture of north Cyprus. Isaac and Solomou have since became martyrs to both Greek Cypriots and to citizens of Greece, and the whole tragedy drew further attention to the bitter division of the island.

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