The rain and cold did not prevent around 5,000 people from attending a march for peace and democracy in the northern part of Nicosia on Friday, in the wake of attacks on newspaper Afrika.
The march, organised by more than 20 Turkish Cypriot trade unions, groups and organisations under the umbrella of the Unions Platform, began at around 5.30pm. It was also backed by the New Cyprus party, the United Cyprus Party and the Socialist Liberation Party.
The demonstrators set off at 5.30pm from Dereboyu Avenue and marched towards the ‘parliament’ building. The rally ended around an hour later, without any serious incidents.
To avoid any violent incidents, protesters reportedly agreed to chant slogans which will not be against Turkey, the occupation forces, or for the daily Afrika.
Demonstrators chanted ‘shoulder to shoulder against fascism’, and for solidarity, democracy and peace.
After the end of the rally, some demonstrators reportedly had a row with a group of followers of a nationalist party near the ‘parliament’ building, but it was not a serious incident.
Members of a communist group gathered outside the offices of Afrika and chanted slogans against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and called for an end of the occupation.
The march was, in part, a response to Monday’s violent protests over Afrika’s Sunday headline likening Turkey’s Afrin operation in Syria to Ankara’s occupation of the north. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on his ‘brothers’ in north Cyprus ‘to give the necessary response’.
The attack has enraged public opinion in the north and heightened tensions within society.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Thursday warned everyone participating in the march to refrain from actions that could inflame the already tense atmosphere following the violent protest against Afrika.
“It is important for the organisers of the march, which has been announced to be in the name of peace and democracy, to act in a way that does not increase tensions,” he said.
The leaders of all six political parties in ‘parliament’ released a joint statement saying, “for the future of our country, whatever your political views we call on all parts of society to act with caution.”
Organisers said they were against violence and for peace, democracy, tolerance and human rights.
The march, they said, aimed to protect democracy, institutions and societal peace.