Lottery tickets are causing a political stink in the de facto state of Northern Cyprus. That’s after a batch designed to commemorate Turkish Cypriot resistance inadvertently depicted enemy Greek Cypriot fighters rejoicing with a captured Turkish flag.
It was, in the words of Northern Cyprus President Ersin Tatar, “a huge and unforgiveable” blunder.
The Turkish Cypriot Lottery Administration is working to recall thousands of unsold tickets that had been designed to celebrate the 58th anniversary of the Battle of Tylliria.
Known to Greeks as the Battle of Kokkina, the 1964 conflict saw a group of outnumbered Turkish Cypriot fighters hold out. The battle was against Greek Cypriot armed forces and members of the Greek Nationalist paramilitary organization EOKA.
The besieged fighters were eventually relieved by the Turkish Air Force, which bombed Greek Cypriot positions that had surrounded Turkish Cypriot enclaves.
A decade later, Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus and partitioned the island, a division that continues to this day.
The image printed on the tickets was intended to depict the besieged fighters, known as the Erenköy Mujahideen, who are heroes in the eyes of Turkish Cypriots.
But the figures in the image shown holding a Turkish flag are in fact EOKA fighters, celebrating after capturing the flag from a Turkish Cypriot stronghold four months before the Battle of Tylliria.
It is a great mistake to use the photographs taken by Greek-Cypriot soldiers and EOKA members as Erenköy Mujahideen in the lottery tickets printed by the State Lottery Administration to commemorate the glorious Erenköy Resistance,” complained Tatar.
“This is never acceptable,” he continued. “No matter what, you cannot humiliate our mujahideen, the glorious Erenköy resistance, our national struggle, and our saintly martyrs. No one has the right.”
Prime Minister Ünal Üstel said that an investigation had been launched into the incident and those responsible would be fired.
In an official statement, Osman Uzun, head of the lottery administration, asked for forgiveness.
We apologize to our people and our heroes of the Şanlı Erenköy Resistance for the image used as a result of an inadvertent mistake,” he said.
But Turkish Cypriot newspaper Avrupa stoked the flames by accusing the lottery authority of doctoring the photo to deliberately obscure the image’s original location and context.
The draw, which was scheduled to take place on the August 8 anniversary of the battle, has been postponed for ten days. The jackpot has been raised from 500,000 to 1 million Turkish lira (US$56,000).
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