A number of civil society organisations in the north sent a joint letter to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Tuesday asking him to restore the ‘presidency’s’ image of impartiality, following his response to the attack on Afrika daily.
A crowd of angry demonstrators on January 22 attacked Afrika after the daily likened Turkey’s Afrin operation in northern Syria to Ankara’s occupation of the north. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had called on his ‘brothers’ in north Cyprus ‘to give the necessary response’.
Protesters threw rocks and eggs at the building, smashing windows. and brought the newspaper’s sign down causing significant damage. The daily said the protesters had come to lynch them.
The civil society organisations, in the letter, said Akinci had ordered the security forces to respond to the attackers but had forgotten those who instigated the violence in the first place.
“We are adamant that Afrika newspaper should be investigated and punished. We do not think you are in compliance with the principle of impartiality in this matter,” the organisations said in the letter.
Six suspects are currently on trial for the violence that swept the daily. They have all accepted the charges against them which include ‘illegal gathering’ and ‘intentional damage to property’.
The organisations expressed their support for Ankara’s operation in northern Syria, which it says is to clear Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) fighters from the Afrin area to secure Turkey’s borders and ensure the return of refugees.
While praising Akinci’s respect for the law and democracy and expressing belief he would act with the necessary sensitivity to the situation, the organisations said ‘we believe you will remove the doubts that have arisen regarding the impartiality of your presidency’.
The attack has enraged public opinion in the north and heightened tensions within society.