Solidarity failure in Cyprus: militants under threat from the authorities for

In Cyprus immigration and asylum laws do not respect European Union standards, putting migrants and refugees in a position of extreme insecurity, especially those that are kept prisoner in detention centers. In Nicosia, the latter are held in premises that are absolutely inappropriate to detention (lack of privacy, overcrowding), while Cypriot law does not stipulate a time limit for the administrative detention of foreigners [1] . There are those who have been waiting two or even three years for an outcome to their situation. The Ombudsman has reiterated on several occasions (2005, 2008) that the prolonged detention of foreigners, and amongst them asylum seekers, was unacceptable and that the situation could not remain as it was. This warning is all the more urgent in that the number of foreigners arriving in Cyprus to seek asylum or simply in transit could soon increase considerably. [2]

Serious incidents, such as hunger strikes and rebellions regularly occur, reflecting the state of affairs. These are violently suppressed. It is rare for outside voices to be raised against this treatment of foreigners in the detention centers. The association KISA is one such example. Created in 1998 following racist incidents, this association provides information and awareness raising activities for migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and Cypriot society at large. Today this organization is under threat from the Cypriot authorities who have issued warnings about their members to the migrants.

Between 28 January and 3 February 2008, a group of women and children (mostly of Iranian nationality) set up camp near the Ministry of the Interior to cry out their distress, and to raise public awareness of their situation and that of their husbands, indefinitely detained in Block Ten (Nicosia’s detention center.) This demonstration, supported by KISA, ended in police violence towards the asylum seeking families and the arrest of Doros Polycarpou, head of the association. The Cypriot authorities indirectly blame him for having informed international organizations, in recent months, that the authorities of the Cypriot Republic were regularly committing violations to human rights, and more particularly against foreigners.
Criminalizing assistance to foreigners and discrediting human rights defenders are frequently-used methods to put citizens off helping migrants and asylum seekers. [3] The Cypriot government cannot cover up the shortcomings of its reception system for foreigners by repressing those that are victims of this very system.
Let us refuse this “solidarity failure”, both in Cyprus and elsewhere,
Let’s support the KISA association.