Impunity is disgusting

Impunity is disgusting

A middle-aged man who spends most of his life devoting himself to the promotion of intercommunal relations, a re-united Cyprus and the brotherhood of the people of the island, irrespective of ethnic, religious and of course political divisions, decided to take refuge from the roasting August sun in a hillside touristic facility in Paphos. His wife and two daughters, aged 9 and 11, were delighted.

They called some other friends. “Nothing to do this weekend; why spend an empty weekend here in this dry Mesaria in Nicosia? Let’s drive to Paphos. Let’s have a nice weekend at a mountain resort, enjoy some good food and drinks. It is summer. Schools are on holiday. Nobody would say a word if we go into work a little late on Monday. We might drive back Monday morning?” It was very tempting; soon the number of families wishing to escape Mesaria’s dry and sweltering weather for a cool mountain resort reached five. 

No one was concerned of any mishap or trouble. They were all pro-peace people. They always had Greek Cypriot friends. Indeed, they contacted some of their Greek Cypriot friends and two families agreed to join them for one night. It would be a perfect weekend escape. They would drive to Paphos Friday late afternoon, spend the weekend there and on Monday morning drive back to work. Schools were on holiday, there was no need to worry about taking back the kids to school. House keys were given to friends to water the plants. Pets were dropped to nearby vets. The families embarked on an enjoyable escape…

As they were leaving Nicosia behind, some angry youngsters tried to harass them. On both sides of Cyprus number plates are identical, except on one side they had one character and some numbers while on the other there were two characters and some numbers. Was it so difficult to remove such a “physical source of discrimination?” It would cost a lot to change all number plates but was it worth the slight worry?

It was a pleasant drive. The roads were perfect, thanks to generous contributions by the European Union and attempts to harmonize. Roundabouts were all perfectly marked. There were a sufficient number of road signs. The sun still had not set when they got to the touristic resort up on the hills of Paphos. The mansion of the archbishop of the Church of Cyprus was visible from a distance; kids were delighted by the scenery. Soon they were at dinner on a terrace with a splendid view. In the presence of many friends, there was great fun and entertainment.

On Saturday morning they woke up to very bad news. Some Greek Cypriot youngsters apparently identified their Turkish Cypriot-plated cars, scratching them from one end to the other and painting over the scratches. They smashed windows and flattened tires. They wrote on one of the cars in capital letters, “Go home dogs…”

Police were called and the parking lot was examined very carefully. There was a security system, but apparently all the cameras were “not operating” that night. Neither the staff of the hotel nor anyone else noticed anyone attacking the cars. What would the police do other than close the investigation and say, “insufficient evidence?” The group was made up of “peace activists,” people rather prominent in working to promote peace and understanding between the two peoples of the islands who suffered some very serious trauma since the late 1950s. Thus, police were compelled to appear as if it was continuing the probe for some time. But before the end of the next week it was announced that no criminal action would be taken against anyone because there was no evidence to prove involvement of anyone in the attack against the cars… Anyhow, in similar cases in the past, there has never been any punishment against anyone.

The weekend escape became very dreadful and costly. A Turkish Cypriot car insurance agent was not covering damages that happened in the Greek Cypriot side. Their insurance was invalid there. That’s why upon entry they had to make Greek Cypriot insurance for the cars. That insurance, for some reason they could not understand, did not include “mob attack” or “terrorist attack,” thus the agency told them they cannot be reimbursed for the damages on their cars. The cost of the trip tripled.

This was a story that some friends went through three years ago. I suffered a similar ordeal as well. I was driving my brother’s white car before parking it at a parking lot near Harrods in Nicosia. I had coffee with some friends. When I came back, I saw the white car resembled a zebra, but in white and red colors. From a previous experience, I was sufficiently trained to know that police would only hold me back, keep me there for hours and won’t take action. So, I did not complain at all.

It was great to read a statement by the Greek Cypriot police on Thursday that legal action was underway against 16 people who harassed Turkish Cypriots and their cars. I hope to see that Greek Cyprus might finally decide to end impunity for crimes committed against Turkish Cypriots.