Monday, June 15, 2009

Goshi: abandoned village, destroyed

During a visit to a church in northern Cyprus, I met a refugee from the abandoned village of Goshi/Koşşi. He told me how 'Goshi was emptied. It was destroyed'(1) in 1974, by 'Makarios's [soldiers]' (2008: Pers. Comm.). Greek Cypriot National Guard laid waste to the place.

Later, I visited and photographed it, before the Greek Cypriot National Guard base near the village called the police. Greek Cypriot police took me away to the local police station, under threat of false charges.

They immediately gave up any pretence of having a just cause for my detention. They questioned me, searched me and my car, searched my research materials, and questioned me again; then they searched my camera, and warned me not to return to Goshi.

Luckily, they didn't recognise some of the photos, dismissing them as 'ancient stuff'(2), and they scanned through some others too quickly for the digital camera's preview screen to display them properly.

It's now used as a farm, but it's a Greek Cypriot refugee family's farm, and they are utterly blameless. The village had already been destroyed when they arrived, and since then, they have used corrugated iron goat pens. Generally, they do not use the ruins of the Turkish Cypriot homes, and when they do, it's because it's unavoidable in the village. The farmers are other victims of the conflict.

Cynics might wonder whether the guilty parties in the conflict wanted to keep the refugee farmers in Goshi, and elsewhere, economically dependent - and economically dependent upon the reuse of the abandoned villages - so that their activities contributed to the decay and disappearance of the destroyed places, the destruction of the evidence of the guilty parties' crimes.

I've finally got round to posting them on a photo blog, Goshi: cultural heritage and community.
  1. 'Koşşi boşaltın. Yıkıldı.'
  2. 'Τα αρχαία'. I think that's the translation anyway; maybe it's 'ancient places'.

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