26 NOVEMBER

BRITISH INTRODUCE STATE OF EMERGENCY IN CYPRUS

At 17.00 GMT on Saturday 26 November 1955 the newly appointed British governor of Cyprus, Field Marshal Sir John Harding, announced, during a short statement on radio, draconian emergency laws in order to crush a growing insurgency against British rule.  The death penalty could now be applied for the use of firearms and the planting of bombs regardless of intent or whether there had been fatalities. Equally controversial was the decision to authorise courts to impose a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone found in possession of firearms or ammunition and corporal punishment on detainees under 18 years old.(1)

Archbishop Mykarios, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus, predicted the emergency laws would only make the situation “more acute.” Within 24 hours of the declaration there was an unprecedented escalation of terror offences with seven bomb and grenade attacks across the island, while the streets of Nicosia emptied each night as people refused to go out on the streets. The British then attempted to restore order by offering bribes of £5000 to any Cypriot who provided information leading to the arrest of an insurgent but there seem to have been few takers.(2)

FOOTNOTES

  1. John Newsinger (2015), “British Counterinsurgency,” Palgrave Macmillan, London, p98 and Robert Holland (2002), “Britain and the Revolt in Cyprus,” Clarendon Press, Oxford p98
  2. “Flare up in Cyprus After Emergency,” The Birmingham Post, 28 November 1955 p1 and “Cyprus Terrorists say ‘Final Battle Soon: Violence Flares After Emergency Declared,'” The Belfast Newsletter, 28 November 1955, p5

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