Tuesday 9 August 2011

Temperatures to soar

Cyprus Social Ecology Movement reiterated the need to protect workers from direct sunlight and called for the revision of legislation.

“The high temperatures in combination with increased humidity over the last few days in Cyprus, brings back the serious issue of the ‘wretched conditions’ of workers in the outdoors in the insufferable heat and temperatures totally unsuitable for the human body,” the movement said.

The CSEM said the law did not include workers exposed to direct sunlight. It said the lack of legislation was a serious deficit which left workers exposed to danger and even jeopardised their lives. It also went on to accuse employers of indifference when it came to offering adequate protection to their employees who were forced to work under heatwave conditions and very high temperatures.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Thousands of Turkish Cypriots say ‘no’ to Ankara austerity

CLOSE TO 30,000 Turkish Cypriots rallied in the northern part of Nicosia yesterday calling for the Turkish government in Ankara to withdraw an economic austerity package that they say will force the community to emigrate.

“This country is ours. We will govern ourselves!” read banners carried by throngs of protesters yesterday at what was undoubtedly the largest rally staged by the community since those in support of a UN-backed plan to reunite the island in 2004.

Discontent has been growing in the north since Ankara forced the ruling National Unity Party (UBP) to implement from January 1 sweeping austerity measures aimed at cutting back on what it sees as the north’s bloated public sector. Some salaries in the sector have been cut by up to 40 per cent, and there are plans to privatize some of the north’s ‘state–run’ corporations – a move unions believe will lead to mass redundancies.

Although primarily aimed at the Turkish government, many used yesterday’s protest to express support for the reunification of the island.

“We want the world to hear that we want peace and reunification. We want a future,” said 40 year-old Ayse Oz.

Others expressed a simple desire for self-determination - something many said even Ankara, the breakaway state’s benefactor, had refused to grant the community.

“We want to rule ourselves. Right now we don’t have sovereignty, but this is our country; we have to be the ones to run it,” 64 year-old retired Salih Pilli told the Cyprus Mail.

A similar rally on January 28 gathered over 10,000 protesters and provoked the anger of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who, after seeing banners calling on Ankara to “leave the Turkish Cypriots alone”, blasted the community for being recipients Turkish financial aid while simultaneously telling Ankara to get out of its affairs. Erdogan raised tension in February by replacing his ‘ambassador’ to Nicosia with Halil Ibrahim Akca, the chief architect of the austerity package.

Clearly angered by what they saw as Erdogan’s “insults” to the community, many of yesterday’s rallygoers again carried banners calling on his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to “get your hands off the Turkish Cypriots” – a move that can be expected to further irritate the Turkish leader.

Speaking to the rally, head of the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Union (KTOS) Sener Elcil called for Turkey to end its policy of running the north from Ankara, and issued an appeal to Greek Cypriots and the EU to help end the division of the island.

“We will put pressure Turkey. We will put pressure on The Greek Cypriots. And we will put pressure on the EU. Turkish Cypriots will be the power behind reunification,” he said.

But with the participation also of right-wing parties in yesterday’s rally, not all calls were for reunification. Some, like Democrat Party (DP) leader Serdar Denktash, son of the founder of the ‘TRNC’ Rauf Denktash told the Mail earlier that he would join the rally because he wanted Turkey to “respect the administration” in the north as a “truly sovereign authority”.

“We are saying that we can rule ourselves. This is our house. Okay, it’s not a clean house, but we can clean it up,” he said. For the past two weeks Denktash has been staging a vigil outside the Turkish ‘embassy’ in north Nicosia

With people of all ages in attendance, yesterday’s rally passed off peacefully with police exercising their power to confiscate banners they saw as provocative or insulting to Turkey. Owner of the outspoken daily Afrika Sener Levent and a number of supporters were turned back from the rally when they tried to enter Inonu Square, the rally’s destination, carrying a banner reading, “You saved us? Hassiktir! (a mild curse in Cypriot parlance but highly insulting in Turkish)” Others carrying the Cyprus Republic flag were also presented from entering the square, and a brief scuffle ensued but no one was hurt. Levent responded by displaying the flags and banners from his office’s balcony in north Nicosia.

Commenting on the rally, head of the Eastern Mediterranean University’s (EMU) Cyprus Policy Centre Ahmet Sozen told the Cyprus Mail the protest stemmed from an almost universal desire among Turkish Cypriots for self-determination.

“This is not the same as saying they want their own state, but they want to rule themselves, either in a federation with the Greek Cypriots, or if that isn’t going to come in the near future, without the interference of Ankara, he said”.

How Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot authorities will react to yesterday’s rally remains to be seen. However the ‘finance minister’ Ersin Tatar on Tuesday warned of economic collapse if the Ankara-devised austerity package was not implemented. “If you don’t take austerity measures, and keep on borrowing, we’ll end up not being able to pay public sector salaries,” he said. He added that he wanted “to be able to create a sustainable economy so we can stand on our own feet without taking aid from Turkey”.

On the Greek Cypriot side, over 50 people gathered at the Ledra Street crossing yesterday to support and encourage Turkish Cypriots in the north, who were protesting against Ankara’s austerity measures.

The protest was organised by a Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot teachers platform.

Most of the demonstrators expressed a desire to have a solution and most importantly see a reunified island soon.

“We want reunification of our country and stronger protests [to achieve this], there are too few people here today,” said 67-year-old Andreas Mandis.

“We have to mobilise to stand by our Turkish Cypriot compatriots against all the things that are keeping our country apart,” said 37-year-old Nicoletta Angelodimou.

Polis Aniftos, a 40-year-old, expressed a similar sentiment: “We want to express our support in the Turkish Cypriot struggle.”

“A solution is the only way….the situation cannot continue with the way talks are proceeding,” he added.

Friday 11 February 2011

Protest and solidarity gathering

G/C and T/C Teachers' Platform United Cyprus, G/C section

Saturday 12/02/2011 – 11.00 am

Our Turkish Cypriot compatriots continue with their popular protests the resistance to their current relation with Turkey and to the provocative statements by Tayip Ertogan. The atmosphere smells 2003 and reminds us the error of our side that did not embrace in practice the mobilisation then, thus leaving an opportunity to create a solution dynamic to pass away. The second chance has arrived and as history shows, we need not just verbal support but intense and clear action in society that clearly sends the message that united and in solidarity Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can coexist and live with dignity in their common country. The time to get out in the streets and send the message to all directions that with our actions, we stand by the protesters, has come and it will not wait. No more games with time. Now is the time to refuse partition. Now is the time for the solution.

Let us get into the streets
to send a strong message of solidarity
to create a common front of action
to reunite Cyprus
to not miss another chance.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

Cyprus Social Ecology Movement wishes you a Happy, Prosperous and Creative year.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Cyprus Social Ecology Movement, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, expresses its disregard for the situation and the response of the government and the Cyprus society against the problems of disable people.

Unfortunately, situations and practices of previous decades, still exist now. Disabled people are not yet fully considered within development issues. They are still excluded from society, work and social events. Even where effective disability legislation is in place, the implementation lacks ideas and is hindered by negative attitudes towards disabled people.

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, aims to promote:
  • an understanding of disability issues
  • the rights of persons with disabilities
  • gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
The Day provides an opportunity to mobilize action to achieve the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities, established by the World Program of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Facebook video a violation of child’s rights

COMMISSIONER for Children’s Rights, Leda Koursoumba yesterday branded the video of a child waving a toy gun around and parroting his grandfather’s call to shoot Turks and communists, as a flagrant violation of the four-year-old boy’s rights.

“Any training or guidance should prepare the child for a responsible life in a free society in the spirit of understanding,” said Koursoumba.

The video was posted two weeks ago on Facebook by the boy’s grandfather, a senior official in the public service. However within minutes of the story being broadcast on CyBC on Tuesday night, the video was removed from the sight of the general public.

Those who saw it before it was removed said the video airs a man’s voice – believed to be the child’s grandfather - prompting the boy to repeat that he was going to shoot Turks and communists and ‘long-live the [Greek] junta’, which instigated the coup in Cyprus in 1974.

Koursoumba called the video a “flagrant violation” of the child’s rights, claiming that it is the state’s responsibility to intervene and protect the boy when a child’s parents and family instills racist and fascist comments. She also called for the involvement of the welfare services.

According to police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos the police chief issued orders as soon as they found out about the video, and sent the file to the Attorney-general’s office to see if criminal charges were warranted. He also highlighted that the Attorney-general might want to involve the Commissioner for the Protection of Children’s Rights and the Department of Social Services.

(Cyprus Mail)

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Lost, found or need to be rehomed animals

Thousands of adorable pets are abandoned every year, left alone without care and food by their owners.

Christiana Mandriotou has opened a group on facebook with hundreds of pictures of abandoned animals looking for a new home.

So, we call upon your sentimental feelings. Please, if you can have a lovely pet at home, take a look at this PAGE. You will find all information needed for the pet of your choice.

Thank you in advance

Cyprus Social Ecology Movement

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Millions of Songbirds Killed for Recipe

Parts of Europe are now "death traps" for migrating songbirds, according to the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), which reports that millions of birds are illegally poached each year -- literally. The birds are often either pickled or poached for a Cypriot "delicacy" called ambelopoulia.
Pickled songbird might not sound appetizing to everyone but, like shark fin soup, bird's nest soup and turtle dishes, it's part nutrition, part adventure and part folk remedy for those who consume it. The dish is expensive and involves illegal practices but, due to poor regulation of laws protecting songbirds, it can still be found in many restaurants.
One restaurant owner with ambelopoulia on his menu likens it to Viagra.
(Blackcap bird, commonly found in ambelopoulia; Credit: Jakub Stanco)


According to the CABS, up to 10 million songbirds are illegally killed each year, often for this dish. The poachers may prepare it themselves or, more likely, sell the birds to restaurants and others who deal in this illegal trade. A single songbird may sell for around $3.60.
In addition to outright shooting the birds, poachers will kill them in all sorts of horrific ways, as videotaped by the CABS and reported on recently by The New Yorker.
Methods include:
  • playing recordings of songbird calls to lure the birds into traps
  • mist nets that trap the birds mid-flight (each net costs about $120 and thousands are smuggled into Cyprus)
  • use of lime-sticks
A lime-stick is a twig that the poacher coats with a gray colored "glue," made from boiling fruits from the Syrian plum-tree. The coated stick is then tucked away where songbirds might land to rest. Once a bird lands on the lime-stick it cannot remove itself.
Struggling for hours, the birds hang and flap upside down, sometimes dying in the attempt to free themselves. Poachers later check their sticks and will kill any birds that are still alive. Images and more information about these hunting techniques are at this 10,000 Birds page.
The economic crisis in Greece and in other countries has only made matters worse. In addition to Cyprus, illegal songbird poaching is common in Malta and Italy, countries where the CABS sets up bird protection camps in the summer and autumn months, attempting to save as many birds as they can.
The illegal traps catch anything that lands on them, or flies into them, so many endangered species, such as certain owls, also become bycatch victims.
All of this comes at a time when animal welfare issues are just beginning to take root in Cyprus.
"The Cypriot government has laws readily available to be enforced that involve the welfare of animals, and dogs in particular, however, the infrastructure in dealing with issues of animal welfare is still in the very early stages," said Alexia Zalaf, a University of Leicester researcher who is hoping to improve animal welfare in Cyprus and in the United Kingdom.
She added, "Carrying out this research in Cyprus and the UK will provide much needed evidence into attitudes towards animal abuse, which is a newly established area. This research study will provide the framework for future researchers both in Cyprus and the UK to further develop the field."
"Eventually, our long term goal is to promote awareness of the phenomenon of animal abuse, and promote action not only by the general public but also by the responsible authorities," she added.
As for the illegal bushmeat trade, so often participants get involved in the illegal songbird food trade because they are hungry, have no other work, and it's fairly easy money for them. They wind up getting involved with what their friends are doing. I just hope that enforcement of hunting laws -- meant to protect endangered species -- will also be accompanied by education programs to help poachers redirect their energies into more productive, sustainable work.

Tokyo Two court verdict is out

Today our two anti-whaling activists stood in court as heroes, having successfully put whaling on trial, both in court, and in Japan's national media.

Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, known as the Tokyo Two, exposed widespread corruption in Japan's whaling programme and in return, they have been handed a 12 month jail sentence, suspended for three years.

We are appealing this totally unjust, politically motivated sentence and we need your help to do so.

Our activists are always prepared to take responsibility for their actions, and standing up in court for what we believe in is often a result of taking appropriate, peaceful action. However, it is unacceptable for the authorities to ignore human rights and freedom of expression.

Please continue to stand by Junichi and Toru: send an e-mail to Japan's Foreign Minister about this harsh verdict now.

And read more about the verdict here.

Thank you again,

Greenpeace International

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Breath of fresh air since smoking ban

THERE has been a 90 per cent improvement in the quality of air in enclosed public spaces since a blanket smoking ban was introduced at the beginning of the year, a study released yesterday has found.

“The results of the study support that the smoking ban in all public places had a dramatic improvement in the quality of air in enclosed spaces and was especially effective in reducing interior pollution levels by some 90 per cent,” an announcement by Cyprus’ University of Technology (TEPAK) said.

Working in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health, TEPAK conducted two air quality measurements, one between April 2007 to January 2008 and again from March to May of 2010, in 21 different places of recreation around Cyprus.
Professor Gregory N Connolly of Harvard School of Public Health, who specialises in research on smoking said, “these results have surpassed all our expectations and this means that the customers and workers of the bars and restaurants in Cyprus can enjoy a safer, healthier environment as those in other countries which have already succeeded in banning smoking in all public spaces.”

The ban, which came into force on January 1 was vehemently opposed by the owners of bars and night-clubs, who argued that it would hurt their business.
In fact, in the first month, they said that their business was down by 40 per cent.
But while there was a widespread compliance at first, there have been increasing complaints that some clubs have reverted back to their old habits, allowing customers to smoke indoors.

Official police figures released yesterday show a total of 3,288 violations islandwide for the period between January and July.
Police issued on-the-spot fines for 3,230 while the other 58 cases are still to be brought before a court.
During this time police carried out 27,500 checks.
Police are authorised to issue €85 fines while violators going to court face a €2,000 fine. That includes both the owner and the smoker.
Owners of establishments also face fines of up to €1,000 for failing to place highly visible no smoking signs where applicable.
Limassol topped the charts with 1,820 violations with second-place Nicosia recording 755.
In Limassol, bars accounted for 417 of the violations, with clubs and cafes adding a further 329.
The majority in Limassol – 632 - came from an unspecified group of “other” venues.
According to the statistics, smoking is clearly a male-dominated sport, with 2,653 reported by police compared to 635 women.

The TEPAK report will come as bad news for a group of mostly DIKO and DISY deputies who are seeking to amend the smoking ban when parliament meets again after the summer recess. The deputies want designated smoking areas in hotels and larger restaurants and bars, with the owners of those premises smaller than 70 square metres having the right to decide for themselves whether to be completely smoking or non-smoking.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Clash at site of Ormidhia waste disposal site

TEMPERS flared at the site for Famagusta District’s new waste management plant near Ormidhia, as villagers blocked the path of earth-moving equipment that was to be used to prepare the site ahead of construction.

Large numbers of police from the Dhekelia base reportedly closed off the site yesterday morning ahead of the machinery’s arrival, prompting a large number of villagers to gather with the intention of blocking off the approach-road.
After a tense stand-off, word was apparently passed to the contractor, and the machinery did not turn up. Both villagers and police left the site just before lunchtime.

The majority of Ormidhia residents have mounted a vigorous campaign of opposition to the waste disposal plant since the plans were announced some eighteen months ago, amid concerns over the risk to local residents’ health and the environment. Protest action has included blocking the Ayia Napa-Larnaca motorway.
The area, which falls within SBA territory, already has an Electricity Authority power plant and a large desalinisation plant nearby.

(Cyprus Mail)

Idalion treasures

Findings of great interest were unearthed during excavations in ancient Idalion, carried out by the Lycoming College Expedition, in sites that included an extremely ancient temple, going back to the Cypro-Geometric period, which was dedicated to the Great Goddess of Cyprus, the Wanassa, or “Mistress of Animals.” According to a press release issued by the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Communications and Works, the seven-week-long field work focused on the terrace of the East Acropolis, Moutti tou Arvili, and the reopening of the excavations in the Adonis Temenos.

With the removal of several years of accumulated rain wash, extraordinary vessels were revealed sitting on what appeared to be the last used floor of the sanctuary. These finds indicate that the sanctuary was in use until the first century BC. The cluster of whole vessels on a floor covered with mud brick detritus may indicate that the sanctuary was abandoned in something of a hurry.

Of great interest was the discovery of the limits of the Hellenistic altar in the Adonis Temenos. As expected, the western corner of the southern edge of the altar was found approximately 8 meters west of the eastern corner. The huge size of this altar indicates the continuing importance of the cult of the consort of the Great Mother at Idalion in the Hellenistic period. Evidence of votive terracottas continued in the area of the altar.

In the area known as the “Sanctuary of the Paired Deities”, the team continued to uncover the eastern area last used in the Roman period. It was discovered that, in addition to worshipping a pair of aniconic deities, a male and a female, ancient Cypriot worshippers donated numerous limestone votive figures.

This season’s work revealed more of the Roman installations in the Eastern portion of the sanctuary, including a large cistern or basin lined with hydraulic plaster. Very near this basin is an impressive set of massive, carefully hewn paving stones set in a line, possibly to mark a ceremonial pathway.
There is little doubt that this extremely ancient Temple, going back to the Cypro-Geometric period, was dedicated to the Great Goddess of Cyprus, the Wanassa, or “Mistress of Animals,” sometimes represented as Artemis, and her consort who came to be called Adonis in later centuries. That he was known as the “Master of Animals” accounts for his representation sometimes as Herakles, sometimes as Pan.

In fact, the ancient Cypriots borrowed religious symbols from many nations to represent their own native gods.
New to the Lycoming College Expedition this year was the Hellenistic industrial area to the East of the Lymbia Road. As this area lies directly down-slope from the Adonis Temenos, perhaps it is not surprising that numerous sculpture fragments were found there in the upper levels. These statuettes were clearly washed down from the sacred grove above. The former American expedition in the 1970s located the large plaster-lined basin associated with the architecture in this field.

They suggested that it might be a bath complex, perhaps associated with a Roman villa or other Roman building. It seems however that the area indicates a major Hellenistic industrial installation, possibly for the processing of textiles. At each end of the basin, which measures close to 6m long by 2.7m wide, there are depressions, apparently for the insertion of wooden rods, presumably for the rolling of cloth or wool through liquid for dying or producing felt.
Next year, the team plans to investigate the limits of the “Sanctuary of the Paired Deities”, to explore the Hellenistic industrial complex and to find the earlier levels of the Adonis Temenos.