Cyprus: Kurdish refugee asylum campaign – successful day of international protests! – Britain

AKEL decides to close office early to avoid protesters!

Kurdish refugee asylum campaign

International protests. Report from Britain – London

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Twenty five protesters at the Cypriot embassy.

Last Friday at four o’ clock, two lobbies were due to take place in London. The first was at the Cypriot embassy. About 25-strong, we hung up a banner saying “No deportations – grant Kurdish refugees asylum now!”

We also handed out leaflets in both English and Kurdish and chanted slogans like “Deportations? No way! Asylum rights: here to stay!” Clearly, the protest lobby created some confusion in the embassy. The first person who came out of the embassy appeared to be concerned when we explained to him about the life-threatening dangers the Kurdish refugees would face if deported to Syria. A comrade also told him that the Cypriot authorities had been acting in a vindictive way against the Kurdish refugees, taking sometimes less then one hour to reach a negative decision, declaring national oppression as being “irrelevant” to their case! To indicate that he took our points seriously, he referred to Cyprus own history of national oppression and said, as he had lived in the North of the island, he had been “a refugee in his own country”. Furthermore, he said he would inform officials from the embassy about our demands.

Soon afterwards, the police arrived and demanded that we remove our banner and continue our protest on the other side of the street, for no more then 20 minutes! However, Paula Mitchell, from the Socialist Party, was at the same time admitted to discuss with the consul. She informed us that the consul was impressed by what he called, “a lot!” of protest letters. Since they were not sent to the embassy originally, they must have been given to the consul by the Cypriot government! He said he would convey our arguments over to the Cypriot government.

We decided not to provoke the police but promised to return if the Kurdish refugees are not granted asylum soon!

The second lobby that was supposed to take place at the same time in front of AKEL’s office in London, could not take place. The leadership of the Cypriot “Progressive Party of Working People” (AKEL) branch in London seems to be embarrassed by the wave of protests against the Cypriot government and closed its doors early to avoid questions from protesters! AKEL is the biggest government party in Cyprus. As a “communist” party and a party that claims to fight for the rights of the oppressed, it still draws it support from the working class. Apparently it is afraid to be exposed as the implementers of anti-working class policies and collaborators with the oppression of another oppressed nation, not the least because of its working class support!

In reply to AKEL’s absence, the group of protesters fly-posted leaflets in front of the office. They left protest letters signed by the London counciliors of the Socialist Party, and the motion presented in the Scottish parliament by Rosemary Byrne, in their mailbox. We take it as a sign of the impact of the solidarity campaign that the AKEL officials shied away, rather then trying to defend AKEL’s responsibility in the Cypriot government. We assure them they will not get away with it and we will continue the campaign until asylum is won!

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November 2006