Last Wednesday, Nov 15, a meeting took place between the Cypriot Minister of the Interior N. Silikiotis and representatives from the Cypriot Kurdish Friendship Association – the organisation that struggles to win asylum for the Kurdish refugees and brings together refugees, members of the CWI and other activists.
This meeting came about after weeks of campaigning and putting pressure on the Cyprus government. It concerned the life-threatening deportation of over 100 Kurdish refugees to the oppressive regime of Syria, as decided by the Cypriot asylum services.
During this meeting, the Cypriot government made its first significant retreat on the question of its policy towards the 100 Kurdish refugees. The Cypriot Kurdish Friendship Association obtained assurances from the minister that all deportations would freeze and that the issue of these Kurdish refugees would be re-examined.
In the next few days members of the Cypriot Kurdish Friendship Association will take evidence to the minister about the life-threatening risks the Kurdish refugees would face if returned to Syria, which the Minister said he would accept. This includes the fact that the Syrian secret police has threatened the families of all the Kurdish refugees that participated in protest actions in Cyprus and the fact that one Kurdish refugee was immediately imprisoned when he returned to Syria! Also they will provide evidence about the unacceptable way in which the asylum authorities took the interviews of the refugees (they rushed the process and gave no real attention to the dangers they face).
These concessions are clearly a sign of the impact of the solidarity campaign and an important step forward, but so far no official guarantees have been made that the Kurdish refugees will be safe in Cyprus.
The fact that the minister indicated that he would be open to a "positive" approach to the matter provides no guarantees about the result. The distance between words and deeds is huge, as everybody very well knows.
The international campaign must therefore continue. It must gain strength from the success of forcing the Cypriot government to re-examine the issue and to halt deportations. This shows that the campaign can be victorious in the end. But to achieve this, we need more letters of protest! We will not stop this campaign until watertight guarantees have been won!
Please send more protest letters and contact us to get actively involved in this campaign !
Send emails to:
- Dimitris Christofias,
President of Parliament, gen. secretary of AKEL
- N. Silikiotis,
Minister of Interior
- Office of the Ombudsman
- Government spokesman