(Cyprus Today- October 30,2013 BY ANIL IŞIK)
ANTI-capitalism activists in Cyprus have accused the island’s United Nations force of being “hired thugs posturing as ‘peacekeepers’” and “playground bullies” for breaking up a buffer zone protest.
The Occupy Buffer Zone (OBZ) movement – inspire by the global Occupy movement – vowed to stage more events in future.
The next one is slated to be an “Anti-Ageing Operation” in protest at bureaucratic and time-consuming procedures around the border between North and South Cyprus.
The statements by OBZ activists follows the removal of protesters from the buffer zone at the Lokmacı checkpoint in Lefkoşa two weeks ago.
They had gathered there to call for an “Anti-Depression Operation” on the occasion of the second anniversary of the formation of the OBZ movement.
The activists complained that the authorities had used heavy-handed tactics to end a peaceful demonstration, said to have been aimed at “revitalising the Occupy spirit”.
It was called by OBZ leaders, who told Cyprus Today: “The state of affairs in Cyprus cannot continue as it is, it’s simply too depressing, oppressive and basically infuriating. People gathered in the buffer zone and reclaimed the space for themselves.”
The demonstration included a game of volleyball by some 25 activists dressed as politicians — played over a net on the “Green Line”, using a ball inscribed with the subjects to be tackled at peace talks, including “property” and “settlers” – but the OBZ statement said the UN had acted “like playground bullies [when they] confiscated the ball and threw it into the no-go area”.
Then, it was claimed, “the head honcho couldn’t contain the challenge to his ‘authority’ and demanded that everyone leave, with threat of violence if necessary . . . [and] violence came before we even had chance to think”.
The statement added: “Several people were dragged around, by their clothes and held by the neck. One was pulled across the floor, having their shirt torn open . . .
“The UN have again shown themselves for exactly what they are accused of – being hired thugs posturing as ‘peacekeepers’.
” The OBZ leaders said the incident had prompted a declaration “that this will be only the first among many such actions and such invasive forces will not dampen the spirit of solidarity”.
“Whose streets? OUR STREETS!” the statement added.
Photos and short video of the incident, seen by Cyprus Today, showed UN officers dragging the activists towards the South’s Ledra Street checkpoint to enable Greek Cypriot police to arrest them.
UN spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux said: “Those who had ignored the eviction order were removed by the [South] Cyprus police officers at the UN’s request.”
He added: “The area is not a public area, it’s narrow and meant to be a crossing point, not meant to be a place for an event. We are happy to host events but they have to ask permission.”
The bicommunal OBZ movement was launched in 2011 by activists who joined forces to set up camp inside the buffer zone to publicise the problems of the global economic and political system and raise awareness of how “the Cyprus problem is is but one of many symptoms of an unhealthy global system”.
They were forcibly ejected from the Lokmacı area by Greek Cypriot police in April 2012.