Cyprus: Kurdish refugees on hunger strike for basic rights

Youth Against Nationalism in Cyprus appeals for solidarity

Two weeks ago, more than 100 Kurdish political refugees started demonstrations in Nicosia. They came from various cities in Cyprus and on 5/5 they “decamped” in tents in Nicosia’s central Square, Eleftherias Square.

During all these days they marched to all the ministries and agencies that are related to their problems: The presidential palace, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Social Services Department and the UN offices.

The refugees are asking for the end of police violence, illegal detainment deportations and arrests, and to be given the right to legally work, so that they and their families can survive, until they are given recognised refugee status.

The government of Cyprus is under the obligation, according to EU legislation, to give to asylum seekers the following rights:-

  • Work permit or welfare allowance if they are unemployed
  • Medical care
  • Humane living conditions

The Cypriot government refuses to meet any of these obligations.

In the various meetings that the Kurdish refugees had with government officials, they got from everywhere promises that the process of meeting some of their demands will be put in action. But on Thursday 18/5 the ministers in question took back all the given promises.

As a result, the refugees took over the central building of the Red Cross in Nicosia, where there is a committee of the ministries in question that is negotiating with them. The refugees have stated that they are not willing to back down on their demands. On Saturday night, ten of them went on hunger strike. The rest of them refused food as a demonstration of solidarity with the people on hunger strike. They have decided to keep up their fight to the end – men, women, children and babies.

The struggle of the Kurdish refugees is a just one. Their living conditions are inhuman. They need our support.

The Cypriot government has to be forced to meet its obligation to provide:

  • Welfare benefit to be given immediately to all refugees
  • Work permits
  • Medical Care, Housing, Human living conditions
  • Political Asylum

We are asking for messages of protest to be urgently sent to the government of Cyprus:

  • Ministry of Interior Affairs:
  • Office of the President of the Parliament:
  • Department of press and Information:
  • Please send copies and messages of support to: Youth Against Nationalism in Cyprus, in order to be distributed to the refugees.

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May 2006