Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Fascinating Story of the Fig Tree in the Cypriot Cave

by Nomad

On a divided island was a fig tree that grew where it shouldn't have.

Cyprus Divided

Since the summer of 1974, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus has been partitioned by an artificial border running east and west. The details about that division came about is still a very sensitive subject for both Greeks and Turks.

The chaos that shook the island had been precipitated by a coup d'├ętat that ousted the government of Archbishop Makarios III, the Cypriot president.. In an apparent land grab, this overthrow by the National Guard of Cyprus had apparently been ordered by the Colonels' Junta in Greece. It turned out to be a disastrous misjudgment.

With law and order in shambles, atrocities were committed on both sides. Things eventually came to a head when the Turkish military stepped in and invaded the island on the 20th July 1974, in an effort to protect the Turkish minority population. The Greek Cypriot armies were quickly routed by the superior Turkish forces.

The Turkish invasion was widely condemned by the West. With stories of atrocities by Turkish soldiers, the tabloids in the UK at the time called the Turks "Barbarians!"
However, other broadcasters in the UK told a different story. The Turkish victory in Cyprus was a humiliation that the Greek commanders had brought upon themselves in "their wild dream of a Cyprus ruled from Greece" and this had provoked the Turkish invasion led to this catastrophe.
As with any civil war, it was the innocent people, including women and children, who paid the price.

As a result of international peace negotiations between Greece and Turkey, the island was divided into North Cyprus and Cyprus. There is no, in fact, Southern Cyprus because, except for Turkey, the world community doesn't recognize the legitimacy of an independent Northern Cyprus. It is one of the few nations in the world that doesn't actually exist.
Over the years, there have been many attempts at reconciliation between the two NATO allies. None of them have been successful.

From time to time, depending on the political climate in Turkey or Greece, sabers are rattled or peace overturns are made. With the discovery of offshore oil and gas reserves, the reunification of Cyprus seems as unlikely as it ever has been. 

Ghost Town Resort

As a nation that doesn't officially exist, North Cyprus is an international pariah, isolated from the rest of the world. If you wish to visit, you must go through Turkey to get there.

Most peculiar aspect is the deserted city of Varosha, near the town of Famagusta.

Once upon a time, it was the place to be for celebrities looking to get away from the crowds. Along John F. Kennedy Avenue, one could find many luxury high rise hotels, like the Asterias, the Grecian and the Argo, Elizabeth Taylor's favorite hotel.
That all changed in 1974.

As part of the cease-fire agreement negotiated by the UN, all of the inhabitants of the resort city were forced out, either to the north or south. Except for UN personnel, nobody has been allowed to enter.
A real-life ghost town, Varosha is a time capsule from the 70s, with all of its hotels in slow decay and its unspoiled beaches lined with barb-wire and patrolled by UN soldiers.
To this day, the quarter continues to be uninhabited.

There are UN check-points into the city and all of the other streets walled up as abrupt red brick dead-ends. From tourist hot spot to a barricaded crumbling wreck where trespassers will be shot.

This, then, is the sad background of the story.

The Secret of the Fig Tree in the Cave

Recently many tabloids in the UK and MSN have reported this strange tale and I thought I would pass it on.
According to the story, back in 2011, a researcher's curiosity was spurred by a fig tree he found growing in a cave close to a beach in Limassol. 
A hole in the roof of the cave had allowed just enough light for the tree to grow. The tree itself was unusual, unlike most fig trees in the area. How the tree ended up there was a complete mystery. 

As he began to dig, he found to his horror, a human body under the roots of the tree. In all the police uncovered three bodies.
According to the MSN account, Ahmet Herguner was killed in 1974 but his body was not discovered for decades until the fig tree connection. Herguner’s sister 87-year-old sister Munur Herguner said:
“We used to live in a village with a population of 4,000, half Greek, half Turkish. In 1974, the disturbances began. My brother Ahmet joined the Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT). On 10th June, the Greeks took him away.. For years we searched for my brother in vain.”
But she said that unknown to her, the grave had ended up being marked by the fig tree that grew from the seed in his stomach.

Her brother was believed to have been the one that had eaten the fig, and blood samples from her family matched DNA fragments which confirmed it was her brother’s final resting place. 

According to one report:
“As detectives investigated the killing, they discovered that the brother Ahmet and the other two had been killed by dynamite in the cave, and the blast had made a hole in the cave that let in light. He had apparently eaten the fig shortly before he died.”
His sister said:
“The fig remnants in my brother’s stomach grew into a tree as the sun crept into the cave through the hole made by the explosion. They found my brother thanks to that fig tree.”
Is it true? Sources close to the International Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) have cast some doubts on the story. Officials at the CMP say scientifically it was not possible that it happened the way it was related by the family. Authorities would only say:
"It is the family's belief. It helped them with finding closure.”
Like so many legends in this region of the world, the truth is so often determined by what people are willing and need to believe.