1950-1959 | Cyprus | Torture

British special branch officers waterboard a Cypriot schoolboy

Mike Licht - Waterboarding - Via Flickr - CC BY 2.0
Mike Licht – Waterboarding – Via Flickr – CC BY 2.0

2 February 1959

In 2010, in an interview with journalist Ian Cobain, Cypriot Petros Petrides talked about his horrific treatment when, still a schoolboy, he was detained by British troops in the coastal town of Famagusta on 2 February 1959. Petrides used to climb up on the roofs of the houses to shout slogans in support of EOKA, a guerrilla organization that was fighting to liberate the island from British occupation. He also distributed leaflets around the town but his identity was given away to investigating British soldiers by a hooded informant.

He was dragged away to a cell in a prison in the old town, the walls of which were spattered in blood. He described how his British interrogators were ‘men in their forties, stocky and well dressed, in shirt and trousers… They knew what they were doing. They were very good at their jobs.’  He told Cobain that he suspected that the men who strapped him to a bed and rubbed pepper into my lips, eye lids and  private parts were British Special Branch officers, adding that ‘they would put a piece of cloth over your nose and mouth and drip water on it and you would feel like you were drowning. Just before you passed out they would stop and take the cloth off. And then they would do it again.’1


  1. Ian Cobain, Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture, Portobello Books, London, 2012, pp. 96-99.

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