EOKA was an anticolonial, antiimperialist nationalist organisation with the ultimate goal of "The liberation of Cyprus from the British yoke". Although not stated in its initial declaration of existence which was printed and distributed on the 1st of April 1955, EOKA also had a target of achieving enosis (union of Cyprus with Greece). Despite this ideology being reflected in many of its members (and chiefly its military leader George Grivas) throughout the armed campaign, it was not of universal acceptance. The head of the political arm of EOKA, Makarios, took a more compromising approach especially during the later stages of the struggle.

and there are arguments of collusion with cia for american interests.
Ultimately, the intents of the struggle were political, not military. EOKA wanted to attract the attention of the world through high profile operations that would make the press headlines. In his memoirs Grivas admits to "by deeds of heroism and self sacrifice to draw the attention of international public opinion, especially among the allies of Greece".

Armed campaign

The military campaign officially began on April 1, 1955. On this date EOKA launched simultaneous attacks on the British controlled Cyprus Broadcasting Station in Nicosia (led by Markos Drakos
Markos Drakos
Markos Drakos was a Cypriot guerrilla fighter who was killed in the EOKA struggle against the British. His nom de guerre was Lykourgos....

), on the British Army's Wolseley barracks and on targets in Famagusta (led by Grigoris Afxentiou
Grigoris Afxentiou
Grigoris Pieris Afxentiou was a guerrilla fighter who fought against the British rule of Cyprus and is considered a national hero. In the hierarchy of EOKA he was second in command to general Georgios Grivas...

). Thereafter and unlike other anti colonial movements, EOKA confined its acts to sabotaging military installations, ambushing military convoys and patrols, and assassinating British soldiers and local informers. It did not attempt to control any territory, a tactic that according to Grivas would not have suited the terrain and size of Cyprus nor the imbalance of EOKA's conventional military capabilities with respect to the British Army.

Formation and structure

The organisation was headed by George Grivas
George Grivas
Georgios Grivas , also known by his nom de guerre Digenis , which he adopted while in EOKA, was a Cyprus-born general in the Greek Army, leader of the EOKA guerrilla organization and EOKA B paramilitary organisation.-Early life:Georgios Grivas was born on July 5, 1898 in Trikomo, Famagusta...

. Grivas had rich military experience having been educated at the Hellenic Military Academy
Hellenic Military Academy
The Evelpidon Military Academy is the oldest tertiary level educational institution in Greece. It was founded in 1828 in Nafplio by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first Governor of the modern Greek State....

, having served as an officer in the Greek army
Hellenic Army
The Hellenic Army , formed in 1828, is the land force of Greece.The motto of the Hellenic Army is , "Freedom Stems from Valor", from Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War...

 and having fought for Greece in both World Wars. In terms of ideology, of particular relevance was his action during the Hellenic Civil War where he led Organisation X, a right wing faction charged with opposing the leftist group ELAS
. Grivas(whom believed to be a cia agent with nikos sampson
) assumed the nom de guerre Digenis in reference to the Byzantine Digenis Akritas, who repelled invaders from the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 during the Middle Ages.

Second in command was Grigoris Afxentiou
Grigoris Afxentiou
Grigoris Pieris Afxentiou was a guerrilla fighter who fought against the British rule of Cyprus and is considered a national hero. In the hierarchy of EOKA he was second in command to general Georgios Grivas...

 who had also served in the Greek army. Afxentiou had graduated from the reserves Officers Academy in 1950 but had no prior experience in active military operations.

Recruitment of members was targeted at the younger population. The conditions for a mass uprising as witnessed in other colonial conflicts did not exist in Cyprus. There were no fundamental economic problems nor was there widespread poverty or food shortage. The working class was largely allied to the left wing party of AKEL which did not openly support an armed struggle. Cyprus' privileged geographical position allowed the middle class to prosper through international trade, activities that were openly encouraged by the British administration. As a result EOKA's leadership directed recruitment to the "passionate youth".

At the peak of the conflict EOKA guerillas numbered 1,250 members (250 regulars plus 1,000 active underground). They faced British security forces totalling 40,000 (32,000 regulars plus 8,000 auxiliaries). It was clandestinely supported by the Greek Government in the form of arms, money and propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 on radio stations broadcast from Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. The cost of running the campaign was reported to be only GBP
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

 £50,000 (US $140,000) for the whole 4 years.


EOKA's main target as stated both in its initiation oath and its initial declaration of existence was the British military. In total during the campaign EOKA engaged in 1,144 armed clashes with the British Army. About 53% of clashes took place in urban area
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

s, whilst the rest (47%) took place in rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...


During the course of the insurrection a total of 105 British servicemen were killed and 51 members of the police.

Aside from British military personnel, EOKA targeted civilians connected to the British armed forces such as their families, British expatriates, colonial and civilian police officers.

Greek Cypriots

Greek Cypriots suspected of being allied to the colonial forces and those believed to be informants were targeted, sometimes with severe brutality. Although the number of operations launched against Greek Cypriots were far less than those against the British military, they were much more efficient. In total 230 assassination attempts were attributed to EOKA action. Of these only 13 targets escaped unharmed, whilst 148 Greek Cypriots were killed and 69 were wounded.

Amongst the 148 killings, 23 were of known leftists. After the end of the struggle there has been debate whether EOKA was also used to target individuals on the basis of their political affiliations, in particular if they did not correspond to Grivas' extreme right ideology and or as vehicle for settling personal differences. The communist party of AKEL and EOKA veteran fighters have both been outspoken on this issue.

Turkish Cypriots

One of the first actions of Field Marshal Sir John Harding, the newly appointed governor of Cyprus in 1955, was to expand the numbers of auxiliary Cyprus Police. This was achieved by disproportionate recruitment from the Turkish-Cypriot community—an action that went against the advice of experienced colonial officials who knew that over-reliance upon a Turkish police force would alarm the Greek Cypriot population and likely lead to open conflict between the island’s ethnic
communities A new separate 'Special Mobile Reserve' unit was created exclusively recruited from the Turkish community. Although EOKA's primary targets were British interests, Cypriots of Turkish descent, especially those serving the colonial security forces soon became targets. Activity against Turkish Cypriots was initiated only after the anti-Greek Istanbul Pogrom
Istanbul Pogrom
The Istanbul riots , were mob attacks directed primarily at Istanbul's Greek minority on 6–7 September 1955. The riots were orchestrated by the Turkish government under Adnan Menderes. The events were triggered by the false news that the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, north Greece—the...

 of September 1955.

Communal violence, rare in Cyprus before the insurgency, flared up in 1956 and increased throughout EOKA's campaign. In 1957 the Turkish Resistance Organization
Turkish Resistance Organization
The Turkish Resistance Organisation was a Turkish Cypriot pro-taksim paramilitary organisation formed by Rauf Denktaş and Turkish military officer Rıza Vuruşkan in 1958 as a defence organisation to counter the Greek Cypriot Fighter's Organisation EOKA....

 (TMT) came into existence, a rival paramilitary organisation serving Turkish interests. Although infrequent, EOKA and TMT targeted each others members with ferocity. In the worst period of such violence, in 1958, EOKA killed 55 Turkish Cypriots whilst TMT killed 60 Greeks.


On the 16 June 1956, the bombing of a restaurant by EOKA led to the death of William P. Boteler, a CIA officer working under diplomatic cover. Colonel Grivas immediately issued a statement denying a deliberate attempt to target American citizens. He further warned American officials, for their own safety, to avoid the establishments patronised by "our British enemy."

In October 1956 an EOKA leader, Pilots Christof, was captured during Operation Sparrowhawk. The following year, Grigoris Afxentiou
Grigoris Afxentiou
Grigoris Pieris Afxentiou was a guerrilla fighter who fought against the British rule of Cyprus and is considered a national hero. In the hierarchy of EOKA he was second in command to general Georgios Grivas...

 was burned to death in the Battle of Machairas. A number of other Greek fighters were hanged, including the 19-year old, Evagoras Pallikarides.

EOKA's activity continued until December 1959 when a cease-fire was declared which paved the way for the Zürich agreement
Zürich and London Agreement
The Zürich and London Agreement for the constitution of Cyprus started with an agreement on the 19 February 1959 in Lancaster House in London, between Turkey, Greece, the United Kingdom and Cypriot community leaders...

 on the future of the country.

The EOKA aim to rid Cyprus of British rule was partially met when on 16 August 1960 Cyprus achieved independence from the United Kingdom with the exception of two "Sovereign Base Areas
Sovereign Base Areas
The Sovereign Base Areas are military bases located on territory in which the United Kingdom is sovereign, but which are separated from the ordinary British territory....

" (SBA) at Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus administered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom...

. The settlement explicitly denied enosis
Enosis refers to the movement of the Greek-Cypriot population to incorporate the island of Cyprus into Greece.Similar movements had previously developed in other regions with ethnic Greek majorities such as the Ionian Islands, Crete and the Dodecanese. These regions were eventually incorporated...

– the union with Greece sought by EOKA. Although Cyprus gained its independence, it came with a complex constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 and the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee – a security arrangement comprising a three-way guarantee from Turkey, Greece and Britain that none would annexe the independent republic. (see History of Cyprus
History of Cyprus
-Prehistory:Cyprus was settled by humans in the Paleolithic period who coexisted with various dwarf animal species, such as dwarf elephants and pygmy hippos well into the Holocene...


Allegations of torture by the British colonial forces

In 2011, veteran EOKA fighters announced that lawsuits were being planned against British authorities. The veteran's association is claiming that at least 14 Cypriots died and hundreds more could have been tortured during interrogations by the British during the 1955–1959 armed struggle against colonial rule. Two of those who died during interrogation were aged 17. The action comes on the back of the uncovering of secret documents released in 2011 which document similar practices during the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya, during the same period.

Dissolution and legacy

The EOKA campaign lasted – officially – until 31 March 1959. After independence EOKA fighters formed regional associations such as ΣΑΠΕΛ (Σύνδεσμος Αγωνιστών Πόλεως και Επαρχίας Λεμεσού; Union of Fighters of Limassol and district) that have been participating in commemorations, museum collections etc. In the 90s a dedicated old people's home for ex EOKA fighters was constructed in the village of Palodhia, near Limassol.

A museum dedicated to the EOKA struggle was created in 1960 and is located in the centre of Nicosia.

The guerilla methods of EOKA, and the nature of its struggle, has served as a widely studied example for other anticolonial, national-liberation struggles in the period of decolonisation.

Political perception

: In its official website, the Cyprus government mentions EOKA as an organisation that waged an "armed struggle" against the British.

: Greek press refers to EOKA as an organisation that mounted a liberation struggle against British Colonial rule.

: The Turkish Republic Of Northern Cyprus (an internationally unrecognised entity), recognises EOKA as a terrorist organisation.
: The Republic of Turkey recognises EOKA as a terrorist organisation.
:Media in the United Kingdom referred to EOKA as a terrorist organisation during the conflict
but currently the BBC describes it a 'paramilitary organisation'.

: Press in the United States of America referred to EOKA as a terrorist organisation during the conflict,
however current press such as the New York Times refers to the organisation as a 'guerilla movement'.

See also

  • EOKA B
    EOKA B
    EOKA-B was a Greek Cypriot paramilitary organisation formed in 1971. It followed a right-wing nationalistic ideology and had the ultimate goal of achieving the enosis of Cyprus with Greece...

  • General Grivas
  • Nikos Sampson
    Nikos Sampson
    Nikos Sampson was the de facto president of Cyprus who succeeded Archbishop Makarios, President of Cyprus, in 1974. Sampson was a journalist and a member of EOKA, which rose against the British colonial administration, seeking Enosis of the island of Cyprus with Greece...

  • Grigoris Afxentiou
    Grigoris Afxentiou
    Grigoris Pieris Afxentiou was a guerrilla fighter who fought against the British rule of Cyprus and is considered a national hero. In the hierarchy of EOKA he was second in command to general Georgios Grivas...

  • Evagoras Pallikarides
  • Markos Drakos
    Markos Drakos
    Markos Drakos was a Cypriot guerrilla fighter who was killed in the EOKA struggle against the British. His nom de guerre was Lykourgos....

  • Michalis Karaolis
    Michalis Karaolis
    Michalis Karaolis was born in the village of Palechori of Pitsilia, Cyprus. He was a government clerk and a member of EOKA. He was the first to be sentenced to death and hanged alongside Andreas Dimitriou on May 10, 1956....

  • Battle of Spilia
    Battle of Spilia
    The Battle of Spilia was fought on December 12, 1955 in the EOKA campaign against the British in Cyprus.Acting on information provided by an informant 700 hundred soldiers of the British Army, attempted to encircle the headquarters of EOKA General Georgios Grivas on the Troodos mountains near the...

  • Field Marshal Harding
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