YKP (New Cyprus Party) once more voiced its demand for a demilitarized Nicosia by organizing a mass press conference
YKP: “A Demilitarized Nicosia is possible!”
Responding to YKP’s call to voice once again in the streets the demand for a Demilitarized Nicosia and a Demilitarized Cyprus, demonstrators met on Saturday, 19 February 2011 at 15:00 in front of Çağlayan Park and marched towards Famagusta Gate in the Çağlayan area which was used as a crossing point before 1974 and a press release was read there…
Parallel to this action, the Initiative “Nicosia without armies and checkpoints” met on the same day at 14:30 at the Orpheas’ / Chrysaliniotissa Park and marched to the southern part of Çağlayan which is at Kaimakli, area near the ceasefire line where they read a press statement voicing their demand for a demilitarized Nicosia…
The two groups almost came face to face at Leontiou Machaira Street and Yuksel Street at Çağlayan / Kaimakli, area…
The statement read at the press meeting in the northern part of Nicosia by Murat Kanatli, YKP’s Executive Committee Secretary General, is as follows:
The campaign which was initiated by the New Cyprus Party in February 2006, under the title “in the process towards a solution: demilitarized Cyprus” has today reached an important point where it is being discussed by the masses, has entered the agendas of political parties, and has been well received by different sections of the society.
In order to keep this demand of ours alive and to realize it, we have been in the streets with our mass press conferences every February since 2006, continually sharing our demands with the public…
Today, different groups are together with us…In addition, independent from us, but in coordination, a similar activity is being organized in the southern part of Nicosia and we are marching in parallel against the wall which divides us… Our wish and our hope is that greater massive struggles develop against the wall and the barbed wires separating us; our efforts to this end will continue…
In addition to our proposal for of different regions in the short term, our efforts also continue and will continue for the total demilitarization of the island…
This will be an ongoing struggle… This struggle includes and will include struggle against all military installations. We have repeatedly taken action in the streets against the British bases and the American monitoring installations and we voiced our demands for them to leave from our country. And we will continue our struggle to this end… But the field of our struggle is expanding; the establishment of new bases was decided after agreements with the French and Canadians were signed. We will intensify our struggle against them, too; there is no other way… At the same time we are uncomfortable with the presence of the Greek contingent on the island and also that of the Turkish armed forces… Furthermore, as we have repeatedly stated in the past, we are also today demanding the immediate dissolution of the Security Forces Command (GKK) and that of the Greek Cypriot National Guard who have no useful function to speak of, whose only purpose is to inject militarism and animosity to the youth of Cyprus, and are the source of compulsory military service…
What is the demand for demilitarization?
Why are we marching today? What is our demand for a demilitarized Nicosia?
When we embarked on the road five years ago we had said;
“The demilitarization of Nicosia will be the first and the most important step towards the demilitarization of the whole island. The demilitarization of Nicosia will begin first the process of uniting the city and then the island. The demilitarization of Nicosia will create the opportunity for the revival of hundreds of houses and businesses situated in the buffer zone. By transforming this region into joint ventures, the line dividing Cyprus can be turned into a place of reuniting Cyprus.
Demilitarization will create the possibility for reviving important streets of the past, Paphos street, Ermou street, Ledra and Kyrenia streets will be able to connect again, buildings of cultural value will again come to life instead of collapsing…
The demilitarization of Nicosia will create a new impetus in the process for a solution and will be very beneficial for confidence building between the communities. The demilitarization of Nicosia will be the first concrete step towards converting the ‘impossble’ into the possible…”
It is with these thoughts that we have persistently continued this struggle for the last five years and we shall continue to do so…
More struggle for demilitarization
As we had pointed out before, the demilitarization and the opening of demilitarized areas to settlement will be important in the short term for bi-communal relations. The return of inhabitants of Varosia and the Maronites to the their homes and the revival of the buffer zone will in the short term give a substantial impetus to the process for a solution.
However, the arming of all military units in Cyprus, the modernization of armaments, together with military budgets, the continuation of ceasefire conditions, and the anomalies created by the position of the military units on the island, necessitate urgent ‘counter-military’ arrangements. For this reason, it is important to immediately cease importing arms into the island and in the shortest time possible zeroing military expenditure by gradual cuts beginning from today. Furthermore, all military ceremonies and exercises must unconditionally cease…
In addition to all this, the occupation in Cyprus and the outcomes create serious problems in our daily lives. Military areas within Nicosia create serious problems for the modern urban planning of the city. Buildings of historical and cultural value within the buffer zone of Nicosia are in an irreversible process. The ceasefire line and the buffer zone make up 3% of the island’s territory which cannot be utilized due to the positions of military units. Regional demilitarization will have a serious impact in our daily lives and many sector s from traffic to tourism, from agriculture to animal husbandry.
Besides, the demands of Cypriots on the issues of security, civil society, and democratization are in conflict with military solutions and needs.
These are not demands impossible to fulfill or demands that are inherently problematic…
We are referring to all troops pulling back only 1km in the mentioned areas and;
- Demilitarize Nicosia, let Ermou Street revive, let dead end streets imprisoned by military barricades become liberated, and let Nicosia reunite!
- Demilitarize Varosia, solve the property issue of 40 thousand Cypriots, let thousands of Cypriots return to their homes, let new work opportunities arise for thousands of Cypriots, let Famagusta reunite!
- Demilitarize the villages of Karpashia, Asomatos and Ayia Marina, let all Maronites return home, let the Maronite community reunite!
The struggle continues
During our first action in front of the walls, at our protest in front of the wall in Ledra Street in 2004, pointing at the wall, we had expressed our determination to bring down this wall and all other similar walls that are a shame for humanity. That wall went down, but some are still persistently trying to keep those walls erect, by resting their hope on walls and barbed wires, thinking they can keep Cyprus divided forever are trying with all their strength, but we say to them “you are trying in vain, you will not succeed…” We say “No way, we’ll bring them down!” (http://www.ykp.org.cy/ybh/060304/index.htm)
This time we are at this point on the dividing line and we recall that before 1974 the New (Famagusta) Gate was used as a crossing point. We demand that this gate be reopened to traffic right now, if not, then we raise our voice again and say “we are determined to bring down this and all walls and all barricades of barbed wires, your resistance is in vain, you will not succeed…”
As we have said numerous times before; we promise to future generations, we are determined to bring down this and all other walls that divide us, we will leave them a Cyprus with no weapons, no borders, no troops, and no guarantors…
The march towards the ceasefire line began from Çağlayan around 15:15 with banners and slogans…
The marchers carried banners saying “Our uprising is against the occupation” and “Demilitarized Nicosia, demilitarized Cyprus” and chanted slogans as follows: “End, End to all occupations”, “Rebellion, revolution, freedom!”, “Long live peoples’ brotherhood!”, “Independent Cyprus, all peoples are brothers and sisters!” The march which continued until the barbed wires on the ceasefire line went on in a cheerful atmosphere with the participation of a group of clown activists. When at the ceasefire line they greeted those from the parallel march on the other side of the barbed wires and then the press release was read …
After the statement the activists marched back to the starting point at Çağlayan Park…
Here a call for participation at the demonstration on 2nd March was made. Then the marchers dispersed.
The clown activists support the march
A group of clown activists accompanied the march. In a text about clowns distributed at the march, the words of Italian author Dario Fo’s words were quoted as follows: “The clowns always talk about the same things, they talk about hunger, hunger for food, hunger for sexuality, but also hunger for honour, hunger for identity, hunger for power. In fact, they question those who give orders and who protests.” In the text the clown activists describe themselves and their actions with these words: “We want to make being a clown dangerous again, we want to bring it on to the streets, bring back its disobedience, and to restore its social functionality of the past; to be able to disturb, to be able to criticize, and to be able to improve society. From the beginning of time, the clowns have embraced the paradoxes of life with the path of disorder in order to reveal their lies and tell the truth. The clowns here today represent the contradictions of life; they frighten, but at the same time they are innocent, they are wise and foolish, they entertain and at the same time they are dissidents, they heal and are a source of laughter, they are scapegoats and disturbers of peace.”
Ulusal Direniş Konseyi (Council of National Resistance), in which all paramilitary groups (ex-TMT fighters etc.) participate in its statement prior to the march said the following: “As representatives of member organizations of the Council, as we emphasized at our statement of 12 February 12 2011, from now on we will definitely not remain indifferent to words and actions aimed at shaking our trust and faith in the existence of the state of TRNC, our motherland Turkey, and her armed forces.” After this reminder, the Council issued the following threat: “We are warning those circles who are serving the aims of Greeks towards removing the guarantor-ship of Turkey with the so-called slogan “demilitarized Nicosia” today…”
Despite this statement, published in some newspapers on Friday, no incident or tension occurred at the march.
EBCO issued a call
The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), declared its support to the actions of the anti-militarist activists on 19th February for the demilitarization of Nicosia and the reunification of Cyprus.
EBCO in its statement made a call for participation in the event. It also called on the anti-militarist and peace activists to go in front of the embassies in their countries with posters of “demilitarized Nicosia” and voice this demand.
Responding to EBCO’s call, the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors and the Antinationalistic Antimilitaristic Initiative went in front of the embassies of Cyprus, Turkey, and the EU office in Greece and voiced their demand for a demilitarized Nicosia through a press statement, hence showing their support to the demonstration in Nicosia.
At the press conference, the statement issued for the call in Cyprus was used. Below is the full text of the statement:
once again we’re on the streets for a demilitarised Nicosia…
for a Nicosia with no barbed wires, no borders going through it
for a Nicosia with no hostility…
in this divided city
to trust; to be able to trust
to say “stop!” to chauvinism
we’re on the streets for a demilitarised Nicosia…
for no more dead-end streets
where children should play…
for no more young people having to guard
sometimes positioned so close that only a road separates them
looking at each other and learning to hate…
for gun-wounded houses and shops that are a memory of the war to find life again
for the buffer zone dividing Cyprus, to become a space that unites…
our demand is demilitarisation of Nicosia, demilitarisation from all military units.
The largest anti-militarist and peace organization in Germany, the DFG-VK which was founded in 1892 (www.dfg-vk.de) also expressed support for the event and that it will take action to this end…
In the meantime, the Protestant Organization for Peace and Conscientious Objection (EAK) (www.ekd.de/eak) in its general assembly in Hannover, decided to support the event in Nicosia. The wish that a Cyprus free from walls and barbed wires becomes the first sign of a Europe where thoughts and places are demilitarized was also expressed.
The march in the south
We gathered in Orpheas park where we welcomed the «critical mass» bicycle ride which
ended its march along the Nicosia green line from Ayios Dometios to Orpheas «against borders and armies».
There we talked to the media and referred to our demand for immediate demilitarisation (removal of all armies, foreign as well as local) and reunification of our city and our country. That we want this to be only the beginning for a necessary bi-communal movement on both sides of the barbed wire pushing for peace and reunification and that Nicosia within the walls can only function properly as a unified entity. Then we marched towards Leontios Makhairas Street in Kaimakli shouting against armies and lines of division. We wrote «this is nationalism» on the green line barricade, left some balloons in the air and hanged a «no borders» banner in the dead zone before leaving.