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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 96-08-11

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: "HR-Net News Distribution Manager" <dist@hri.org>


CONTENTS

  • [01] Bikers ready to start anti-occupation ride
  • [02] Bikers' anti-occupation ride cancelled
  • [03] UN welcomes cancellation of ride
  • [04] Bikers indignent over cancelled ride
  • [05] Cypriot MPs ask to cross into occupied areas
  • [06] Bikers in buffer zone
  • [07] Presidential address - Motorcyclist chief apologises
  • [08] Greek Cypriots beaten by Turks

  • 1030:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Bikers ready to start anti-occupation ride

    Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- As the motorcyclists ride from Berlin to Turkish-occupied Kyrenia will be underway at 1100 (0800 GMT) today, the United Nations Chief has appealed to the government to take effective measures to prevent unauthorised entry into the UN-controlled buffer zone which divides the island.

    Thousands of bikers set off from various starting points of the free areas of the island and are now heading to Dherynia village, situated at the eastern end of the dividing line on a hill overlooking the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta, to begin their ride which has alarmed the Turkish regime in the occupied north of the island.

    The bikers' ride began on August 2 from the once divided city of Berlin and has taken them through various European capitals, before reaching yesterday Cyprus for the last leg of the ride to Kyrenia.

    Today, they are expected to ride along the buffer zone from Dherynia to Nicosia, where they will attempt to cross to the Turkish occupied areas and complete their ride to Kyrenia.

    Police detained a number of motorcyclists last night on suspicion that they would use explosives during the ride. They were released later in the night.

    Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in a statement distributed last night by his spokesman, ''expressed his concern at reports that a Greek Cypriot motorcycle association is planning to violate the ceasefire lines as well as the UN buffer zone in Cyprus on Sunday, 11 August.''

    The spokesman said the Secretary-General ''hopes that the organisers of this event will avoid a course of action that could only harm efforts to resolve the long standing Cyprus problem.''

    Finally, he said: ''The Secretary-General calls on the government of Cyprus to take effective measures, in exercise of its responsibilities, to prevent any unauthorised entry into the UN buffer zone''.

    According to the Turkish Cypriot press, a counter-demonstration will take place in the occupied areas. Around 2.500 bikers, who would come from Turkey, will attempt to cross into the free areas to ''visit the Hala Sultan mosque'' in Larnaca. Also, the extreme-right organisation ''Grey Wolves'' has threatened to enter the free areas if the buffer zone is violated while the Turkish occupation forces said they will punish those who will cross over.

    Meanwhile, a delegation of the Motorcyclists Federation was meeting this morning with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

    The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice and Public Order, Alecos Michaelides and Alecos Evangelou, as well as the police leadership were taking part in the meeting. President Clerides is expected to remain at the Presidential Palace throughout the ride and to be informed about developments.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

    CNA EC/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1115:CYPPRESS:02

    [02] Bikers' anti-occupation ride cancelled

    Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- The anti-occupation ride organised by the Cyprus Motorcyclists Federation has been cancelled foe security reasons, it was announced this morning.

    The decision was announced by the Federation President George Hadjicostas, after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

    President Clerides is expected to make a statement on this decision.

    The Presidential Palace meeting was also attended by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice and Public Order, Alecos Michaelides and Alecos Evangelou and the police leadership.

    The Federation called on all its members to gather in Nicosia instead of going to Dherynia village, on the eastern end of the dividing line, from where the bikers were originally scheduled to start their anti-occupation demonstration along the buffer zone. More later

    CNA EC/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1140:CYPPRESS:03

    [03] UN welcomes cancellation of ride

    Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- The UN welcomes the cancellation of the motorcyclists' ride which aimed to demonstrate the opposition of the people of Cyprus to the division of the island and the violation of their basic human right of free movement by the Turkish occupation troops.

    The cancellation of the ride which was to reach its final stage today, has been announced by the president of the Cyprus Federation of Motorcyclists George Hadjicostas a short while ago.

    Meanwhile asked by CNA to comment on the developments, UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski expressed satisfaction with this development.

    ''We are happy with every step which diffuses the situation'', he said.

    Asked whether the UN Chief's statement calling on the Cyprus government ''to take effective measures, in exercise of its responsibilities, to prevent any unauthorised entry into the UN buffer zone'', has prompted the decision to cancel the ride, Rokoszewski said ''it certainly had a positive impact''.

    The decision to cancel the ride, Hadjicostas has explained to the hundreds of motorcyclists that had gathered at Makarios stadium in Nicosia, was reached during a morning meeting at the Presidential Palace with President Glafcos Clerides and the leadership of the Police.

    ''We have been convinced that it is wiser to cancel the ride'', he told the bikers.

    CNA MCH/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1245:CYPPRESS:04

    [04] Bikers indignant over cancelled ride

    Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- Hundreds of angry motorcyclists have expressed their indignation over the cancellation of a much-publicised ride from Berlin to the Turkish-occupied town of Kyrenia.

    At the same time, the President of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation George Hadjicostas has disclosed that ''security and political reasons'' made it necessary to cancel the anti-occupation rally.

    ''We were told that the rally would have harmed government efforts to solve the Cyprus question and we are here to offer support to the state, not antagonise it,'' Hadjicostas told the press here.

    ''I would have been happier if the ride were to finish in Kyrenia but I also believe we have brought the Cyprus problem into the limelight in a positive manner,'' he added.

    One biker told CNA after the announcement for the cancellation was made he was ''very upset'' and a second participant expressed ''frustration and indignation'' about the course of events.

    Many motorcyclists refused to obey the call of their leadership and have taken to the streets. Others gathered at various spots, near the UN-controlled buffer zone, in an attempt to express their feelings of frustration, but so far we have no confirmed reports about any bikers breaking into the buffer zone.

    The President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides is due to address the nation shortly with regard to today's developments.

    CNA MM/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1330:CYPPRESS:05

    [05] Cypriot MPs ask to cross into occupied areas

    Dherynia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- Five Cypriot MPs have asked the UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus to allow them to cross into the Turkish-occupied areas to convey their Turkish Cypriot compatriots a message for peace and reunification of Cyprus. MPs Marios Matsakis, Katerina Paschalidou Pandelidou, Demetris Eliades, Antonis Karas and Christos Mavrokordatos, together with Famagusta municipal counsellor Stefis Stefanou and a small number of citizens are awaiting at the UN check point here for an answer from UNFICYP.

    In an oral statement to UNFICYP, Matsakis told the UNFICYP area officer that what they want is to ''give the message that we want peace'' and to be allowed to cross into the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta.

    ''We are ordinary people, the people across are like us. We want to show our willingness that Cyprus is united again and that we should not be afraid of each other'', Matsakis said.

    The UNFICYP officer told the MPs he will convey their message to his superiors and to the Turkish Cypriots.

    The MPs went to Dherynia area, the eastern end of the dividing line, where an anti-occupation motorcyclists' ride was scheduled to start this morning.

    The ride was finally cancelled for security reasons after the intervention of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

    CNA MA/MCH/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1345:CYPPRESS:06

    [06] Bikers in buffer zone

    Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- Reports are coming in of a small number of motorcyclists breaking into the UN-controlled buffer zone in ''Sopaz'' area, on the eastern part of Nicosia.

    Police have confirmed that some bikers riding their machines and a few others on foot have entered the buffer zone, where small fires have broken out.

    According to press reports a UN and a Cyprus Police helicopter are flying over the area while a fire engine and men of the Police Anti-terrorist Unit have arrived at the area.

    A group of other bikers were heading for the Achna area, which is situated between the British Base Area of Dhekelia and the Turkish-occupied territory.

    The bikers defied instructions from their leaders of the Cyprus Motorcyclists Federation, who cancelled the anti-occupation ride for ''political and security reasons'', at the request of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

    CNA KN/MM/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1500:CYPPRESS:07

    [07] Presidential address - Motorcyclist chief apologises

    Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides has expressed satisfaction with the compliance of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation (CMF) with his request to cancel the last part of today's anti-occupation rally, which started from Berlin on August 2.

    The President has also praised the ''patriotism, courage and sense of responsibility'' of the bikers and told them they have done a great job to publicise Cyprus' demand for freedom and justice.

    On his part, CMF President George Hadjicostas apologised to the hundreds of bikers and supporters of the rally for the cancellation of the ride but stressed that the decision to cancel the rally was taken with a heavy heart.

    In a televised address to the nation, the President thanked publicly the CMF for their initiative to organise the ride and extended special thanks to the Greek and other foreign participants.

    ''They conveyed the message that Turkey's occupation of Cyprus' northern areas is continuing and the people of Cyprus are deprived of their fundamental freedoms,'' the President said.

    He described the service all bikers have done for Cyprus as ''an immense contribution to Cyprus because it has touched a cord among the international community about the continuing violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey in Cyprus.''

    The President said he had urged the CMF leadership to alter their plans and explained to them in detail ''the serious reasons that warrant this change.''

    Expressing satisfaction for the bikers' response, patriotism, courage and sense of responsibility, Clerides declared ''as the President of the Cyprus Republic, having examined in a calm manner all the information before me and in full knowledge of my responsibilities to the people of Cyprus, I have come to the conclusion that I had to ask the CMF leadership to modify the last part of their successful ride.''

    I am satisfied, the President added, because the CMF leadership ''responded in a positive manner and did so after I had briefed them extensively.''

    He referred to concerns by the UN Secretary-General about the intention of the CMF to violate the UN-controlled buffer zone and measures taken by the Turkish side to give the impression that the confrontation was apparently between the bikers and Turkish Cypriots.

    ''The Turkish side has organised groups which were instructed to confront the bikers to justify the intervention of the Turkish occupation troops,'' he revealed.

    On his part, Hadjicostas told bikers that after a detailed briefing by the President, ''I weighed the pros and cons of the situation and we decided.

    ''Following a detailed briefing by the President on this morning's intervention by the UN Secretary-General and others, we considered the advantages and disadvantages and decided with a heavy heart to halt our ride here,'' he told the press.

    It would have been far easier for us, he added, to go ahead and get the applause but ''bearing in mind the harm we might have done to Cyprus, we accepted the President's advice and cancelled the ride.''

    ''I am sorry that I have disappointed many people who backed our ride and I apologise to them. I am aware that many bikers feel bitter about this development but I assure them that the leadership of our Federation was even more disappointed,'' Hadjicostas said.

    He said the purpose of the much-publicised ride was to tell Europe and the world that human rights and in particular the right to free movement are being violated.

    In the past few days, he said, the Federation had received many threats from Turkey and the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime but all were ignored.

    CNA MM/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1715:C YPPRESS:08

    [08] Greek Cypriots beaten by Turks

    Dherynia Aug 11 (CNA) -- At least two Greek Cypriots were badly beaten by Turks or Turkish Cypriots with battons when they were entangled in the barbed wire in the UN-controlled buffer zone during a demonstration against continuing Turkish occupation.

    Scores of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots entered the buffer zone while helpless UN peace-keepers stood by. Both injured were taken to hospital for treatment.

    UN Peace-keeping force spokesman Waldemar Rokoszweski told CNA the UN ''has limited resources and cannot therefore keep an eye on every spot along the buffer zone.''

    The UN spokesman has also indirectly criticised the Cypriot authorities and the Turkish Cypriot regime, in occupied Cyprus, for not ''being able to stop their respective civilians from encroaching the buffer zone.''

    The UN peace-keepers, he said, are neither deployed, or equipped nor trained for crowd control.

    Asked if the UN will make representations to the Cyprus government and the illegal regime, he said it was perhaps too premature to speculate but the UN spokesman hinted, indirectly albeit clearly, that he held the Cyprus government responsible for the violation of the buffer zone.

    He referred specifically to today's statement by UN Secretary-General, who called on the government of Cyprus to ''take effective measures to prevent any authorised entry into the UN buffer zone.''

    The spokesman said some 1,000 out of around 1,200 UN peace-keepers on the island were deployed for today's rally.

    In different incidents, more than 13 persons are reported injured from live ammunition and rubber bullets, fired by Turkish occupation troops who are in close proximity to defiant bikers and other people.

    A spokesman for Larnaca General Hospital told CNA most of the injured are men in their 30s.

    Other injured people were taken to Paralimni hospital.

    The bikers were all set to begin the last leg of their anti-occupation ride to the Turkish-occupied port of Kyrenia only to be told hours before the start that the ride was called off.

    All local television networks had live coverage of the ride from various locations while many foreign media took a special interest in today's rally.

    CNA MM/GP/1996
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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