On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, [i] KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism raises the alarm and notes with deep concern the disturbingly significant increase in incidents of discrimination, racism and racial violence in Cyprus. At the same time, KISA stresses the necessity for immediate adoption and implementation of a zero tolerance policy of any form of discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance and racism, with special emphasis on combating institutional racism and discrimination.
This significant upward trend in discrimination and racism in Cyprus is demonstrated by the upsurge of incidents recorded and reported, both at institutional level – legal, political and administrative, as well as at all other levels of public life – social, economic and cultural. [ii] Growing discrimination and racism is due l largely to the populist and xenophobic rhetoric and practices adopted by politicians and public officials, who unfoundedly attempt to put the blame for the increase of unemployment and other consequences of the economic crisis on the most vulnerable social groups of migrants, asylum seekers, recognized refugees and victims of trafficking in human beings, rather than on the destructive advent of the crisis hitting Cyprus in recent years. This very stance of state authorities and government services representatives contributes decisively to the strengthening of the far right, nationalistic and fascist organizations and political parties, which are openly against the refugee and migrant communities in Cyprus, reinforcing even more the hate rhetoric and acts of violence against the most vulnerable groups of the population.
In this framework, KISA has already set among its basic priorities the following three initiatives:
- The operation of a mechanism of recording and reporting incidents of racism, racist violence and discrimination, in the framework of «RADIAlert – Racism and Discrimination Alert», funded by the Open Society Foundations.
- Its active participation in international campaigns, programmes and initiatives for combating racism and discrimination, with the participation of other human rights organizations from every corner of the globe [iii].
- The promotion, elaboration and undertaking of common strategic actions against nationalism and xenophobia, racism and fascism, in cooperation with all democratic, progressive and radical civil society groups in Cyprus.
Concerning the last actions and on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, KISA actively participates and organises the following:
- Protest march in the framework of the European Mobilisation Against Racism and Fascism, which is taking place on Saturday 22 March 2014. The protest will start at 11:00 at the OXI roundabout and finish at the end of Ledra street in the old city. [iv]
- A public debate on “The phenomenon of the Far-Right in Cyprus, Greece and Europe: Considerations, Positions and Proposals », to take place on Wednesday, 26 March 2014, from 18:00 to 21:00, at the House of Peace of Nicosia Municipality. [v]
- A workshop on “The Movement Against Racism and Fascism: Challenges and Dynamics”, to take place on Saturday, 29 March 2014, from 09:00 to 13:00, at KISA’s premises in the old city of Nicosia. [vi]
Finally, KISA calls on the Cyprus state and particularly the government to recognize the extent, gravity and consequences of discrimination and racism and to immediately put in place measures for combating these phenomena. In order to realise the zero tolerance policy, KISA considers the cooperation of all stakeholders and adoption of an “Action Plan for the Combating of Discrimination and Racism” to be absolutely necessary.
Notes to editors:
[i] The 21st of March has been declared by the UN as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this day in 1960 the police of apartheid South African regime shot and killed indiscriminately 69 people participating in a peaceful and non-violent protest against the apartheid legislation in Sharpeville. The UN General Assembly declared 21st March as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in an attempt to mobilize the international community and to push it to denounce discrimination and racism.
[ii] The most characteristic dimension of the strengthening of discrimination and racism in Cyprus are:
- The increase in incidents of racial violence and hate crimes, especially as a result of the rise of far right, nationalist and fascist organizations an political parties.
- The promotion of hate rhetoric by far-right organizations and political parties by the mass media and social media.
- The increase of racial targeting and police violence which lead to discriminatory, degrading and inhuman treatment of migrants and refugees by the Cyprus Police, in public, in detention and at the Central Prison.
- The innumerable incidents of administrative arbitrariness, with the most characteristic example perhaps the irregular or even illegal issuing of arrest warrants, detention and deportation of informal migrants and asylum seekers, whether EU citizens and members of their families or third country citizens and especially mothers of minors.
- The lack of access to migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking to fundamental human rights and sectors of public services, as for example work, health and education.
[iii] The international campaigns and initiatives include:
- “We Fit Together – 21 March: European Action Week Against Racism” of the pan-European network United for Intercultural Action Against Nationalism, Racism and Fascism
- “Fight Racism Now!” of the organization Fight Racism Now, with the support of the Open Society Foundations
- “I Vote for Diversity” of the European Network Against Racism – ENAR
- “For a Europe of Human Rights: Here, Now and For All!” of the European Association for the Defense of Human Rights – AEDH
- “Help Syria Refugees: Europe Act Now!” of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles – ECRE, in cooperation with the Future Worlds Center and the Syrian Community in Cyprus
[iv] Until now, in the protest march will participate the following organisations and parties: AKEL, DEOK, DISY, EDEK, EDON, Elefsis, ERAS, the Green Party of Cyprus, the Cultural Movement, KISA, NEDA, NEDIK, EDEK Youth, the Youth of the Green Party, PEO, Pancyprian Peace Council, Pancyprian Youth Board, POGO, Progressive Movement of Teachers, the Initiative We Are in Europe and the Socialists Initiative.
For more information, see KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism. Press Release – Thursday, 20 March 2014. “Mobilization Against Racism and Fascism in Cyprus and Europe”
[v] At the meeting will participate representatives of the Anti-Discrimination Body of the Ombudswoman Office, the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, the European Parliament, as well as the academic community and civil society. The invitation and the agenda will be sent very shortly to the mass media.
[[vi]] At the workshop will participate representatives of the Anti-Discrimination Body of the Ombudswoman’s Office, the academic community and civil society. The invitation and the programme of the workshop will soon be sent to the mass media.