Saturday, 24 January 2009

Turkish actor confesses Cyprus war crimes, then says he made it all up

Above is a clip from yesterday's RIK news that includes the interview on Turkish television with actor Attila Olgac in which he admits that during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 he cold-bloodedly murdered 10 Greek Cypriot prisoners.

From the interview, it appears that Olgac is hardly repentant about his crimes and there is no evidence that this is a man who needs to unburden himself of the evil he has committed. This is not a confession from a man racked by guilt and shame, or overwhelmed by compassion towards his victims and their families; this is a man who appears proud of what he did and the psychological effects on him seem to have been minimal.

In the second part of this RIK news clip, Turkey correspondent Anna Andreou reveals that after describing his role in the invasion of Cyprus on Turkish TV, Olgac proceeded to give an interview to the Turkish newspaper Radikal in which he once again admitted that while in Cyprus he went on a killing spree. According to Andreou, Olgac repeated the story he told on television about murdering his first victim, a 19-year-old Greek Cypriot prisoner, for spitting in his face during interrogation.

The third part of the clip is a statement from Olgac to RIK in which he retracts the confessions he made to the Turkish media and claims instead that he is writing an anti-war screenplay and this prompted him to confuse fantasy with reality.

So, what do we have? Either this contemptible man in describing to two Turkish media sources his role in the massacres that took place in Cyprus in 1974 revealed the truth or something approximating to it, not forgetting an actor's tendency to dramatise and embellish. Or he made up his involvement in the killings; maybe, as he said, because he's an idiot who can't distinguish between fantasy and reality, or, ham that he is, as a means to draw attention to himself, or to impress the three pretty Turk women on the TV programme with him. Or the version of events he described is largely accurate – we know for certain that the Turks committed atrocities in Cyprus of the type described by Olgac – and in a demonstration of abject cowardice – and/or as a result of pressure from the Turkish state – he is now backtracking, having realised that he has implicated himself – and the Turkish government and military – in war crimes.

Anyway, here's a translated transcript of what Olgac says in the interview on Turkish Star TV:

OLGAC: They said to me 'take this Thomson [gun]; you think people only get killed on the stage? Go and kill in real life'. This is such a terrible thing. For a certain period, you live with the shock. You can't grasp if it's reality, or a game, but when you see people die left and right, when you see the scenes you feel a terrible fear. After, you get used to it and you become a killing machine. Without thinking about it. All you do is kill.

FIRST WOMAN: Did you kill?

OLGAC: Of course. I killed 10.

FIRST WOMAN: You killed 10 people?

OLGAC: Yes. After I returned [from Cyprus], for a long time I couldn't eat meat because I continuously saw corpses, reeking corpses. In the heat, the corpses had become bloated and started to smell, because of the high temperatures. (Note: the Turkish invasion took place in July and August).

SECOND WOMAN: When you killed for the first time, what did you feel?

OLGAC: At first I cried, then I got used to it.

FIRST WOMAN: Did you come face to face with anyone [you killed]?

OLGAC: Yes. He spat in my face. His hands were tied. My commander told me 'kill him', then he left. From a distance, I pulled the trigger and I killed him. He was 19-years-old.

SECOND WOMAN: Was he armed?

OLGAC: No, his hands were tied; he was a prisoner.

SECOND WOMAN: Did you ever see him again in your dreams?

OLGAC: Yes. I'm an artist. I'm a human being.

And here's the translation of the retraction Olgac made to RIK:

'For a long time, I've been writing an anti-war screenplay. When they asked me on the live programme if I was a veteran, in my mind reality got mixed up with my screenplay. The men I was killing in my screenplay, I described as if I were killing them in real life. I wanted to shock people on the TV programme and see how they reacted to [the ideas in] my screenplay. If there'd been more time on the programme, I would have made this clear.'


DD said...

This retraction business is so lame. Even if this story was a "scenario," thanks to Attila for jolting everybody good and hard... Attila's tale briefly occupied top tier on Greek news, but it has since left the stage thanks to the farmers and their tractors and more rumors about early elections (the 'real important' stuff). I was told the other day by "authoritative" individuals that such stories of atrocities "do not help at this stage." And what stage is that, I inquired? Well... hmmm... the stage of (drum roll) reconciliation with Turkey !!!! Pitiful.

john akritas said...

Who knows if Attila is telling the truth exactly, if he did the things he said he did? Maybe he just witnessed them, because we know beyond question that atrocities of this kind – and much worse – happened. That he could go on TV and think he could talk so openly about killing Greeks assuming no consequences, tells us a lot about Turkish society. No question that for many Turks his actions were heroic and justified. I had to spend most of yesterday deleting comments from Turks to that effect on my youtube site where I posted the video.

As for the reaction in Greece, I have been trying to follow this. I noticed that on Friday's main NET news, it was the last report, though they did devote five or so minutes on it and had some good quotes from Andreas Loverdos. Yesterday's NET news was similar. But when it comes to issues regarding massacres and the missing in Cyprus, what always surprises me is that Greek nationals were often the victims and you'd expect Greek media to take an interest from that point of view, if they can't find it in them to bother about the Cypriots involved. For instance, listed among the 1,600 missing are 64 Greek nationals – all military – and you would have thought both from a national and a journalistic point of view, their fate would be a constant in the public eye.

If we're not careful, we're going to sell our souls for this reconciliation nonsense – if we haven't done so already. In Cyprus, the government has said it will take action about the confession 'behind closed doors'; which means they'll try and bury it. Christofias and his AKEL government spend most of the time telling us that because of our chauvinism and extremism we were the architects of our downfall, and certainly details like this pointing out that we were victims of barbarian Turk aggression don't fit in with their narrative.