Occupy Buffer Zone prepares response to UN
16.01.2012 - Occupy Buffer Zone
Young activists, who have continued
to occupy the Buffer Zone for the last
have prepared a response for the
United Nations Peacekeeping Forces
who had recently come by to warn them to
'Evacuate immediately'. Activists have issued
the following statement afterwards.
"Today, following the controversial events of the
past week, five United Nations officers came to
our occupation between the Ledra\Lokmaci
Street checkpoints and handed us notice
that we have to “vacate the area immediately”.
We believe the allegations on this document
do not reflect the truth and are out of context.
Here is our response to the accusations on this
unsigned yet alleged official notice.
While the UN had given us notice on the 25th November
2011 that we need 25 days in
advance to hold an authorised event in the Buffer Zone,
our presence in the Buffer
Zone is clearly not a bicommunal event that requires
authorization from the UN.
Occupy the Buffer Zone is a citizen movement which
stands against the borders
and regulations that legitimise the division of the island.
Our occupation claims
back the Buffer Zone, a space that symbolises
the issues we face on this island.
Our efforts to revitalise the Dead Zone create a
fertile environment for producing
culture and education beyond “borders”.
Here, new bonds and friendships can
flourish between people who are otherwise segregated.
We believe the reasons
we are here matter a lot more in terms of the
welfare of this island than the
regulations the United Nations claim we violate.
The movement responds to the UN’s allegations as such:
1. The buildings and structures being renovated
by the Nicosia Master
Plan are clearly demarcated by construction coverings,
construction safety regulations. The occupying
movement itself is
set beyond this space, and no interference
takes place by the
occupying movement during working hours.
2. The occupied space is filled with bins a
nd recycling posts that are
cleaned and emptied on a daily basis.
The occupation has a strong
stance for eco-friendliness, as shown
by our recent workshop on
3. Regarding noise, any complaints
communicated directly to
the occupation are taken seriously and
responded to quickly.
After being approached by the police
regarding noise levels during
our New Year’s party, we immediately
lowered the levels. Similar
complaints have not been received since.
4. We have received no complaints
over the smoke, verbal or
written. Fire is only used during the
late hours of the night, when
the temperature drops and on several
the passersby have joined
the conversation’s warmth.
5. There are no dogs in the occupation
that can be defined
as ‘feral’. The dogs that do take refuge
in the Buffer Zone are d
omesticated, with their health and
dietary needs being taken care of.
Our take on animal welfare is emphasised
on their rights for
liberation as sentient beings, ensuring
that they do not endure
avoidable pain and suffering. The UN’s
use of ‘threat’ for passersby
does not reflect the friendly approach
we take in calling our dogs back
6. Occupying vacant buildings without
authorization from UNFICYP,
is a political act that enables the conduct
of workshops, activities,
discussions as well as housing a library
for cultural and educational purposes.
7. In response to alleged set fires
inside these buildings, the occupation
has never set fire in them. Fire marks
existing on the flooring in the
larger space, were found, and not produced,
by the occupation. The only
sources of warmth in the space are gas
heaters that have traditionally
been utilised and are easily recognisable
by the Cypriot community.
We believe that the points above comprise
of valid and solid arguments
that maintain and ensure the health and
safety of all people and animals
between the Ledra\Lokmaci checkpoints.
Additionally, we would like to point to
the inconsistencies in the UN’s allegations.
Earlier in the week, the UN had notified us
of them receiving complaints over
a banner facing the north to show solidarity
to Halil, a blogger-activist writing
against torture in the army. When we
refused to take it down, they proceeded
to remove it themselves. However, in
the case of claimed complaints the UN
is currently presenting, we had never
received prior warnings or notifications
of any kind. This demonstrates an inconsistency
in the UN’s professional manner,
one we hoped would be maintained.
Despite statements by the UN Spokesperson
in the press that the UN supports any
kind of activity that promotes peace,
UNFICYP has never shown any active
support to the occupation. For example,
they did not assist in returning our electricity
generator from the Turkish Cypriot military,
after numerous attempts of requesting aid.
The night the generator was confiscated,
the military was present in a supposedly
demilitarised space in the Buffer Zone,
which was emphatically illegal, before
the arrival of UNFICYP. Since then, the
military has patrolled this area. UNFICYP
had allowed the confiscation of the generator
by the military preventing its direct return to
its rightful owner. This behaviour has limited
the use of the activity centre for educational
and cultural events.
In conclusion, we are being ordered
to vacate the space on the basis of
inconsistent and false accusations.
The occupation has and will continue
to promote peace and the reunification
of Cyprus, and calls for support and
solidarity from all communities living on the island and beyond.
Please join us in the Ledra\Lokmaci
Buffer Zone to support our movement and its cause."