UN ‘were heavy-handed in breaking up protest’

“Article on Cyprus Today on Last Week’s Action – EXCLUSIVE BY ANIL ISIK”

POLICE were called in to break up a volley match which involved satrical messages highlighting the political situation in Cyprus.

Activists linked to the Occupy Buffer Zone (OBZ) Movement complained the authorities used heavyhanded tactics to end the peaceful demonstration. About 25 people gathered at the buffer zone at Lokmacı last Wednesday in Lefkoşa for an “Anti-Depression Operation” to celebrate the second aniversary of the movement locally. The meeting saw activists, dressed as politicians, have a volleyball match between the North and South, played over a net on the Green Line. Subjects of the peace talks were written on the ball including ‘property’ and ‘settlers’. 

They also staged their own version of negotiations, called ‘egotiations’.

It is claimed when some refused to leave UNFICYP forces descended on them and they were “violently” pushed and dragged towards the South’s Ledra crossing point. This would have enabled the Greek Cypriot police to arrest them as they have no power to do so in the buffer zone. The pictures from the incident at the buffer zone, seen by Cyprus Today, also shows the UN officers dragging activists.

Michelle Bonnardeaux, UN spokesman, said those who ignored the eviction order were removed by the South Cyprus police officers at its request.

Michalis Eleftheriou, 28-year-old Greek Cypriot OBZ activist, said: “The plan was to bring some fun and joy to the dead zone. “But the whole time, the UN officers were aggressive and threatening, pushing and shoving.”

Another OBZ activist, Turkish Cypriot Rahme Veziroğlu, said: “We are tired of traditional ways of protesting. We wanted to bring in humour as a tool to ridicule and diminish the assumed power of so-called authorities, disturb the existence of the dividing Green Line and offer a positive outlook to what’s happening in Cyprus. We started playing volleyball, and then they tried to catch the ball, making hilarious scenes. Finally, they caught the ball and threw it behind the gates inside the dead zone.”

“One of our friends was dragged and held on the ground by three UN officers, leaving red marks on his skin and his shirt ripped.” 

“We left the area applauding their special ‘peacekeeping’ skills.”

Mr Bonnardeaux said: “Many events have been held at the buffer zone but there are procedures for it.
“It’s not a public area, its narrow and meant to be a crossing point, not meant to be a point for an event. We are happy to host events but they have to ask for permission…They behave more anarchists who don’t believe in rules.”

Categories: Events, Updates

  • Bill Cobbett

    Of course it was a way over the top reaction to a peaceful protest.
    The UN have said that they want to see normality return to the BZ, well Peaceful Protest is a normal activity… and one that doesn’t require anyone’s permission.