Cyprus Anti-War Demo


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Anti-war demonstrations in Cyprus - 18/01/03 - (Nic)

This weekend saw coordinated worldwide demonstrations against the possibility of a war against Iraq. In Cyprus, the demonstration was arguably small, and paled into insignificance when compared to the 70,000 Turkish Cypriots who demonstrated in favour of reunification the previous week, but more is to follow, and the demonstrators made their point known to weekend shoppers. Cypriots have other things to worry about than a war in Iraq, for example the tantalising possibility of an end to the island's 28-year partition. However, Cypriots also have very good reasons to be worried about a war in Iraq: the Cypriots know all about being refugees, since many of them lost everything during the Turkish invasion of 1974. many Cypriots are also disgusted that the sovereign British bases on their own island, a relic of colonial times, will once again be used as a launchepad for an operation to crush the peoples of the Middle East (Britain had already used these bases when it was trying to prevent the centrifugal tendencies of its colonies in the region). Either way, a small group (around 60) of determined people gathered on Freedom Square (Plateia Eleftherias) in Nicosia on Saturday to make their objections known. A band played anti-war songs while others distributed a petition, leaflets and stickers. A police car stood by, but was never required, since the atmosphere was relaxed and most people had brought their children with them. Passers-by lingered for a while to enjoy the music and read the banners, before rejoining the busy shopping streets. The small group then marched up the main shopping street, once again without incident. The small anti-war coalition which had organised the event had only been created a few weeks earlier, and this demonstration was essentially designed to introduce itself to the people of the island. Unfortunately, the media, preoccupied by the Annan plan for reunification and the upcoming presidential elections, gave the demonstrations almost no coverage. But more demonstrations are planned outside the British and American embassies, as well as the British bases. The latter should draw in a larger crowd of people who think it is time for Britain to leave the island alltogether. Moreover, it could unite Turkish and Greek Cypriots in a common cause.