On the evening of 27 August, groups of neo-Nazis of ELAM, the so-called Lakedaimonians and other extreme right elements, reminiscent of the assault battalions of the criminal Golden Dawn, with the active participation of the community council leader, attacked Syrian refugees in Chloraka, who have been permanently and legally settled in Cyprus for years, injuring even children, and destroyed their properties. Sunday’s pogrom took place despite the fact that all the demands of the extreme right-wing circles of the community had already been met by the previous government (illegal decrees of the former Minister of Interior and the Paphos District Officer) and the present government with last week’s decision to implement in practice these decrees as well as discriminatory and vindictive procedures for examining asylum applications.
Sunday’s pogrom was a well-organised and coordinated attack against refugees and migrants in the community, with the participation of nationalist, far-right and fascist elements from all over Cyprus, who had been calling through social media for mass participation and attacks against migrants and refugees. These forces took advantage of the fertile ground created by the state migration and asylum policies, which are based on systemic racism and discrimination, in flagrant violation of human rights as well as EU and international law. Policies developed and implemented in a context of impunity for hate speech and incitement to attacks and violence against migrants and refugees and their defenders. These are the policies that have led to the rise of xenophobia, racism, fascism and nationalism. This is the background to the pogrom, not the alleged over-concentration and ghettoisation of migrants and refugees in Chloraka and elsewhere.
In addition, KISA condemns the stance of the police that tolerated and apathetically at first watched the violent attacks and other offences that, according to testimonies of migrants but also Cypriots, were taking place in front of their members. KISA had informed the police days before about reports in the social media about the coordination of these task forces. However, the police rejected a proposal for cooperation and never responded to our organisation’s request for information and assistance in its efforts to deal with the situation, as for example the use of information available to the organisation. It is unacceptable that the police should finally make 3 arrests, two of which were of Syrian refugees according to media reports, victimising once again the victims of the attacks and while there is a plethora of videos of hundreds of Cypriot perpetrators involved in the attacks. Further, KISA condemns the Police for not fully, objectively and impartially investigating the reports submitted by Syrian refugees as, according to our information, their efforts to investigate and prosecute those involved are self-defeating by parallel efforts to cover them up.
KISA calls on all anti-fascist and anti-racist organisations and democratic citizens to stand in solidarity with refugees and migrants and collectively to put up a wall against the further rise of fascism, racism and nationalism and their disastrous consequences on the rule of law and respect for the human rights of every person.
KISA calls on the following –
- The Police and the Legal Service to conduct a full, impartial and objective investigation of the attacks against migrants and refugees in Chloraka and the neighbouring villages, to secure all available testimonies and to bring the perpetrators and instigators, to justice.
- The Police and the Legal Service to investigate in particular the actions and involvement of the Chloraka community leader, in his capacity as elected community leader and person exercising public authority, including hate speech against migrants and refugees.
- The Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints against the Police to investigate the actions and omissions of the Police during the incidents but also the way the complaints submitted by Syrian refugees were investigated and whether this was objective and impartial
- The state to immediately adopt and implement policies for combating and punishing hate speech and hate crimes that are prohibited as well as policies and measures to combat racism and xenophobia as per its obligations under EU and international law.
- The State to take immediate measures to protect and provide all support to the victims of the pogrom in accordance with the relevant victim protection laws.
- The local authorities in the region to establish platforms for dialogue and exchange of views on the problems faced by local communities and implement actions to solve them with the active and equal participation of migrants and refugees living in their communities.