A leader of the Cyprus citizens’ peace movement presents a deeply personal account of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and its aftermath.
On July 20, 1974, when Laouris was 16, Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus following a Greek military coup and centuries of ethnic tension. Recalling the invasion of his beloved country, Laouris paints a firsthand picture of the fear, hatred and violence that divided the island into the Turkish North and the Greek South, forcing Laouris and his fellow Greek Cypriots to flee their homes and rebuild their lives below the U.N.-monitored Green Line. The invasion, as he describes it, was a traumatic, life-shaping event that informed his studies in Germany and the United States and his subsequent work as a neurophysiologist and systems scientist. Forever haunted by “that summer,” however, Laouris eventually focused his energy on a controversial, groundbreaking conflict resolution workshop in the 1990s that led to the formation of a bicommunal conflict resolution trainers group. As Laouris developed friendships with Turkish Cypriots, the “barbarians” of his childhood, he and his fellow peace activists cast off the titular “masks of demons”—their fear and hatred of one another—and committed themselves to uniting their country. In this unconventional memoir, Laouris interweaves Cypriot mythology and history with the methodology utilized in the peace-building process. The explanations of methodology, however, pale in comparison to personal anecdotes, such as Laouris’ description of an emotional visit to his childhood home when the border was opened in 2003. Despite the book’s clumsy structure and grammatical hiccups, Laouris exudes an infectious passion for his cause, whether describing Internet-savvy peace initiatives or ruminating on Cyprus’ future. He succeeds in entertaining and educating while shedding light on an important historical chapter.
What he lacks in craft and finesse, Laouris makes up for with a vivid, first-hand account of the Turkish invasion and his peace-building efforts in Cyprus.