As from yesterday morning, a story has been going round the media about a “wild” and/or “huge clash” and “disturbances” caused by a 23 year-old Syrian and 7 of his compatriots after a “no apparent reason attack” against Emba residents. Reality, however, is totally different.
A group of Greek Cypriots, with a known member of neo-Nazi ELAM playing a leading role, first attacked and injured a young refugee, who justifiably refused to comply with their provocative demand to move his car from a public space. Following this, they hit another refugee with a chair when he had tried to stop them. The clash was more generalised when the group of around 20 Greek Cypriots attacked a group of 8 Syrians who had in the meantime gathered to stop the attacks and protect their two injured compatriots.
At some point, the ELAM person leading the attack showed a gun and aiming it at some of the refugees he threatened them that they “are dead” and “I swear you are dead”. The two injured refugees went to the Police station to report the incident but the police officers on duty asked them to first go to the hospital to be examined before filing their complaint to the Police. When they returned to the Police station, instead of accepting their complaint and without taking their statements the Police proceeded to arrest one of them. It is noted that none of those who attacked them, including the ELAM member leading the attack and who had threatened them with a gun, were arrested that night.
Despite the fact that KISA had form the night of the incident informed the Police, the latter decided to proceed against the ELAM member who led the attacks only yesterday afternoon, after the publication of a relevant video by KISA on social media. The inadequate response and unacceptable negligence exhibited by the Police as well as the content of their press release shaped the climate within which the unquestioning and without basic investigation news about the events developed. The combination of these two parameters cultivated, once again, the impression that refugees and migrants create problems and they constitute a threat to society, inciting thereby racism and hate crime in society.
Taking into consideration other documented cases in which the Police has exhibited similar negligence, unwillingness and/or incompetence of carrying out its duties of protecting the victims of similar racist attacks and hate crimes, KISA is gravely concerned about the capability but also the readiness and willingness of the state, including the Police and especially of the Paphos Police, to effectively manage the worryingly rising wave of racist attacks and hate crimes in this particular district.
KISA calls on –
- The Attorney General to intervene so as to ensure the objective and effective investigation and, subsequently, to bring to justice those involved and who have committed offences in the specific incidents.
- The Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints against the Police to investigate the negligence exhibited by the Police and the criminalisation instead of the protection of the victims.
- The government and more particularly the Ministry of Justice and Public Order to take all necessary measures so as to deal with the shortcomings and institutional racism of the Police and which make the Paphos Police unwilling and/or incapable of ensuring effectively the security of all people residing in the district without discrimination.
- The mass media and their evaluation/ monitoring institutions to investigate such incidents carefully so as to avoid their partial presentation and after they hear the migrants and refugees involved who are the victims of such racist attacks and hate crimes.
- The Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights to assume its responsibilities and obligations in relation to the investigation of complaints we have already submitted about racist violence and hate crimes against migrants and refugees in the said district.