We would like to bring to your attention and protest at the inhuman conditions facing Kurdish refugees in Cyprus who amongst others were involved in a protest campaign last May 2006 to force the government to implement their legal welfare and benefit rights. The campaign involved an occupation of Eleftheria square and the Red Cross buildings.

To:
 

Dimitris Christofias,
President of Parliament, gen. secretary of AKEL
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N. Silikiotis,
Minister of Interior,
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Office of the Ombudsman
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Government spokesman,
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Dear Sir/Madam,

Since then about 100 Kurdish refugees, the huge majority of them from Syria, applied for asylum but have had their appeals rejected. The asylum application procedure was severely flawed with no account taken by government officials of the oppression of Kurds in Syria (but also Iran, Iraq and Turkey). Most of the interviews lasted a little more than an hour, including translation, and the applicants complain that they were repeatedly interrupted and not allowed to finish what they wanted to say. Whenever they tried to speak about the oppression they face as a nationality they were told this was irrelevant to their application.

Most of  the applications for asylum were rejected. Nobody was granted political asylum! Not even asylum for humanitarian purposes was granted to anybody. No tolerance was shown either. Everything shows that the authorities particularly the police authorities, moved in a vindictive way, and many Kurdish refugees face the prospect of deportation.

The authorities seem to disregard the fact that if the refugees are deported back to Syria they will face certain imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Syrian regime - most of them will probably "disappear"! We want to stress to you that after the May mobilisations of the Kurds in Cyprus, the families of those who participated were visited by the Syrian secret police to be informed that the authorities know about the activities of their family members in Cyprus. They were threatened that they would pay for it.

We understand that the Cypriot people suffered a lot in the past, due to the coup de etat organised by the far right and the Greek military regime, and through the Turkish invasion of the island that caused 200,000 refugees (1/3 of the population). The representatives of the Cypriot people would be expected therefore to show sensitivity when other people face similar conditions.

We would like to express our complete opposition to the Cypriot government’s present treatment of the Kurdish refugees. You should understand that we will fight for the rights of the Kurdish refugees and the Kurdish people in the same way that you would expect us to fight for the rights of the Cypriot people and refugees. If there is no change in policy by the Cypriot government, therefore, you should know that we will spread publicity about this issue as widely as possible internationally and explain the role of your government in taking part in the oppression of Kurdish refugees.

We demand asylum and a policy of tolerance and hospitality to the Kurdish refugees.

Yours,

Committee for a workers' International publications

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