“Afrika” under attack after reporting on Turkey’s assault on Afrin

Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Afrika, formerly known as Avrupa, came under attack on Monday, after referring to yet another invasion on behalf of Turkey, following its assault on Afrin, Syria.

The attack has been condemned by political parties and other organisations on both sides of the divide in Cyprus, saying it was an affront to freedom of speech and constituted interference by Ankara.

Dozens of protesters hurled bottles and stones at the offices of Afrika, and the security forces of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus had to intervene.

According to Turkish Cypriot reports, the protesters were mostly Turkish settlers who were chanting the name of the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Cyprus is Turkish and will remain Turkish among other slogans.

The protesters pulled down the newspaper’s sign on the outside of the building, broke windows, and damaged the interior. The members of the staff who were in the building barricaded themselves in.

The incidents spilled over to the parliament which is opposite the daily’s offices, while the new deputies were being sworn in, disrupting the process. The protesters shouted offences against Republican Turkish Party deputy Dogus Derya, while other MPs booed her, after she shouted together against fascism and made the victory sign. Derya had to be escorted out of the building.

Press reports said deputies of her own party also protested her remarks. Derya had also posted on Facebook that authorities feeding on blood fail to bring about peace, which caused intense reactions. She received personal attacks and threats.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci issued a written statement commenting on Turkey’s operations in Afrin, Syria, and the incidents that followed Afrika’s” headline Yet another invasion by Turkey, saying that this was a dangerous path, that Turkey had the right to take measures, and that the term invasion has not been used by the United Nations and could not be accepted to describe a peace operation.

The Turkish protesters also booed Akinci and told him to disappear when he tried to speak to them outside the parliament building. The Turkish Cypriot leader ordered additional security measures in the area.

Shortly afterwards, the protesters left the area, but the police forces remained, as a new wave of demonstrations had been announced on social media. There were no incidents at those demonstrations.

Akinci discussed the deficient security measures with the chief of police and the leaders of parliamentary parties.

Two persons were arrested and later on released in relation to the incidents. Turkish Cypriot press reports said it was the two persons who had climbed onto the parliament roof waving Turkish and Grey Wolves flags. The police said it was checking closed circuit footage and would make more arrests.

Monday’s demonstrations received negative comments by political leaders in the Turkish-occupied areas, while others deplored Afrika’s report. Turkish officials, referring to Afrika, said the rogues will be accountable to history.

Furthermore, the government of the Republic of Cyprus has turned to the United Nations and the permanent members of the Security Council to report the Turkish stance against Turkish Cypriot daily Africa and called on them to take action to protect the journalists and the freedom of the Press and speech in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic. The issue will also be raised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with persons in European institutions responsible for the freedom of the Press.

Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent told his supporters that this was a turning point and said the demonstrations were prompted by Erdogan. Their intention was to kill us, he said, adding that Afrika would continue to publish what it considered right.

Levent said he received telephone calls from all over Europe, adding he was also contacted by President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, but not Akinci.

Meanwhile, the trade union platform in the Turkish-occupied areas is organising a protest against violence on Friday at 1530 local time, during which they will march along a main road in Turkish-occupied Nicosia.

Furthermore, bicommunal organisation #UniteCyprusNow said Monday’s attack on Afrika was one of the saddest manifestations of extremism, and called on all Cypriots to join forces and raise their voices with us against extremism and division on Saturday at 11:00 at the Ledra Street/Lokmaci Buffer Zone.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July last year, ended inconclusively because of unacceptable demands put forward by the Turkish side. The UN have called on the leaders of the islands two communities, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, to reflect and get back to the Secretary General with ideas as to the way forward.

Source: Cyprus News Agency