ELEVEN protesters, one of them a prominent Turkish Cypriot human rights lawyer, were dragged away and arrested as they took part in a peaceful sit down demonstration in support of sacked Cyprus Turkish Airlines (CTA) workers in the north of Nicosia on Wednesday night.

Over 400 workers from the disbanded CTA have been staging regular protests since they were laid off last year. Sacked workers say they are owed compensation and remittances.

Police moved in to arrest protesters on Wednesday at around 7pm when former employees were joined by supporters of the left-wing New Cyprus Party (YKP), United Cyprus Party (BKP) and the Cyprus Socialist Party (KSP).

“Some of us were sitting, others were standing when police started dragging people off and putting them into police vans,” said the arrested human rights lawyer, who asked us not to use his name. Ten of the 11 arrested are members of the three left-wing parties.

“The police said we were blocking the traffic, but we weren’t,” the lawyer said. Video footage posted on YouTube yesterday showed how the protesters were dragged away after police accused them of blocking traffic. The traffic did not appear to be obstructed.

Commenting, head of the YKP Murat Kanatli said the video “clearly showed that police used violence to provoke peaceful protesters”. It also showed their  “passive resistance”, he said, adding that the use of violence by Turkish Cypriot police was “becoming habitual”.

He also said that only one of the arrested was a former CTA employee. The remainder, he believes for their political views and support for the unions who oppose Ankara’a austerity measures.

All 11 protesters were released yesterday morning after being charged with obstructing traffic and obstructing the police.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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