Speech by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL A.Kyprianou at the Anti-Racist Event
19th June 2020 Freedom Square, Nicosia
On behalf of the C.C. of AKEL, I extend a warm greeting to today’s event. It is truly sad that in our era, decades after the concentration camps, the uprooting of the peoples and the death that fascism caused, we are still struggling to convince people about what should be self-evident. That is to say, love and respect for human life and people. It’s sad, but that’s also true.
It is doubly sad for us Cypriots because we were and are a country of refugees, for those of us who in the past decades were forced to board ships and planes to go abroad due to political turbulence and the Turkish invasion in search of work in foreign countries so that our families can make a living.
Who can forget our refugee tents and camps (after the Turkish invasion and occupation)?
Who can forget own children who we put on ships and were hoping to find kindness from strangers to live?
Who can forget our own people who were trying by every means to survive in other countries?
We do not forget. We remember. And we demand today, as we demanded then, that reason and humanity should stand up to fanaticism and hatred. In the face of racism and xenophobia, solidarity should be expressed towards people who are not us by chance, and by chance we aren’t in their own position.
Millions of people have been displaced in recent years. We must at long last realise that this is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. It stems from the need to escape war, violence, poverty and death; from the need to save their lives and the lives of their children.
The European Union’s responsibilities for the plight of these people are also grave. Every time it backed the various imperialist attacks, paving the way for the displacement of millions of people.
The responsibilities of the Anastasiades-DISY government with regards the handling of the refugee and immigration issue in our country are also grave. For years it did nothing about it. It is now inciting xenophobia to relieve itself from its responsibilities.
What has the government done for so many years to confront the rings of traffickers dealing with immigrants?
What did it do for so many years to speed up the asylum application process?
Since 2015, when all other routes to Europe were closed, could it not have predicted that refugee flows to Cyprus would increase?
Where were the EU’s € 100 million allocated that were intended for refugees and we have reached the point where there aren’t any soap bars in the reception centres today?
What did the DISY Ministers and MEP’s do to abolish the Dublin System that traps refugees in the countries of the southern Mediterranean?
What did the DISY Ministers and MEP’s and all the other parties – except AKEL – do to denounce the EU-Turkey agreement with which Turkey is being paid billions of Euros to keep refugees out of Europe and using them to blackmail?
What did the DISY Ministers do to assert a settlement on the fact that Turkey, by not recognizing the Republic of Cyprus, does not accept refugees who have arrived in Cyprus?
The answer is simple. Nothing, not even the bare minimum. It recently sent relevant bills to the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, which in essence are contrary to international law and international conventions. As if the bad name that our government had made for itself internationally with the various corruption scandals was not enough, it will now put Cyprus as a target for the violation of international human rights treaties.
The Interior Minister Mr. Nouris announced the government’s new immigration policy yesterday and declared that he cannot promote social integration because of the difference in morals and culture. But has the Minister not heard of international conventions and international law? He said his effort was to prevent demographic alteration. This is the same DISY Government which has already granted passports to several thousands of people for a very big fee.
As far as we are concerned, as AKEL we will not stop taking initiatives for solidarity towards every tortured person who arrives in our country. We will not stop working at the political level to demand a speedy examination of asylum applications, for a system to host refugees in all member states. Refugees should be distributed to all member states based on the population and economic situation of each state. For dignified conditions and for the temporary hosting of asylum seekers in line with UN standards, with the financial assistance of the European Union.
At the same time, we demand the elaboration of a modern immigration policy based on the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Cyprus must sign, ratify and implement this Convention. Furthermore, a policy of integrating immigrants into Cypriot society must be elaborated through a scheme for all sectors, together with policies combating the exploitation of immigrants.
AKEL always and everywhere chooses to struggle for the people. By nature we stand against the inhumane content of racism. We oppose and isolate neo-fascism politically. We cultivate respect for every human being and every culture. We point out that imperialism is solely responsible for the flow of refugees. Capital is responsible for illegal immigration which wants to attack the gains and rights of all workers, domestic and foreign.
We insist that the only answer to all this is to strengthen the organization of working people. For us, no immigrant is an enemy. No refugee is a threat. That is why we will not stop struggling in solidarity with the peoples of Europe, with the peoples of the world against racism and neo-fascism, for the right of every human being to life and dignity!
Long live the friendship of the peoples!
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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