In the last few days, we are witness to an unprecedented escalation of years of attempts by local authorities and actors, a section of the media, extreme right and nationalist public figures and trolls on social mediato connect KISA’s officials and activities with criminal and illegal activities (trafficking rings, terrorism, money laundering), links with religious fundamentalism, incitement to violence and other crimes, illicit enrichment, corruption, etc. etc.. Many of these allegations are rehashed fodder, which we expect to be cleared up in the defamation suit we have filed against the former Minister of Interior, currently pending before court.
The recent escalation has led to, among other things, verbal attacks, insults and threats against the lives of members and officials of the organisation and their families.
We believe that these attacks are directly linked with our organisation’s action and its the role it has in uncovering and bringing to the fore the pogroms against migrants and refugees by fascist, extreme right and nationalist forces, first in Chloraka and then in Limassol. These are the continuation of other attacks taking place every so often, especially when issues, such as equality, structural racism, corruption, etc, that concern and engage our organisation enter the public dialogue. On 27/08/2023, a number of media but also the Police tried to mislead society about the pogroms against the Syrian refugees and migrants in Chloraka as well as about the responsibilities of the Police by presenting them as isolated incidents and minor skirmishes that were sorted out by the Police.
KISA reacted immediately to this attempt by informing through its social media society and the authorities (the Chief of Police, the Minister of Justice and the President himself) thatwe did not have a minor incident in Chloraka but pogrom attacks by fascist and far-right forces.
The following day, through targeted dissemination of the hard facts to state institutions and media people, we managed to contribute to informing both the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement, which has few media for alternative information, but also to reverse the initial picture and to embed in society generally the reality of the pogroms that took place in Chloraka and the tolerance and indulgence shown by the police.
We believe that the above unprecedented attack against our organisation and its officials are acts of revenge for the role played by KISA in reversing the picture they wanted to convey to society. It is also part of a more general attempt of various political circles to restrict and eventually eliminate organisations that do not compromise with fake news, institutional racism (legitimised or not) and assertion of basic human rights for all people living in Cyprus regardless of any diversity. Their rage has reached such levels that they respect neither the personal nor the professional dignity and reputation of our members, going as far as aiding and abetting the attacks and threats to their physical integrity and lives. With character assassination practices, they want to eliminate the voice of KISA and its members by targeting and spreading fake news.
However, in order not to let the mud float in society and the suspicion to flare up, KISA is forced to answer for its involvement in the specific case of Chloraka. KISA emphasises that its involvement regarding the St. Nicolas complex started in October 2021, after an appeal by the refugees themselves staying there to support them to deal with the coordinated and racially and xenophobically motivated demand of the local and state authorities that were supported local media, to leave their accommodation, which was decent and covered their housing needs.
As always, KISA provided all its other services for free and thanks all the lawyers and other experts who worked with us pro bono for the protection of refugees in St. Nicolas and West Paphos in general. With these in mind, the question every democratic progressive person has to ask is: what is served by the attack on KISA and the incitement to violence against its members by name in the announcements of the organisers of the racist demonstrations and the daily smear campaign in a number of media?
Unfortunately, the reflexes of our society did not seem to be developed enough to understand that these attacks are part of the rise of the far right and to reach out to organisations like KISA. But because racism, far-right violence and fascism will not disappear in the coming days, and because a collective effort is needed to counter policies that contribute to their rise, we call on society to recognise, protect and support the important work our organisation is doing to protect refugees and migrants as the most marginalised groups of the population and to safeguard the rule of law.
Finally, we call on NGOs, especially those active in the field of migration and asylum, as well as the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement, to cooperate and coordinate our actions, so that we can stand in solidarity to face the rise and action of fascism and the far right, as well as the attacks against our organisations and their activists.
In this context and despite the silence and widespread suspicion against our organisation, we call for support of the anti-racist-anti-fascist march on Sunday, 10 September, at Eleftheria Square in Nicosia at 18:00.