Cyprus Mail

Farmers vie for return of lands in buffer zone

By Peter Stevenson

FARMERS from around the island will gather at the Astromeritis checkpoint on Saturday, December 7 to take part in a march for ‘Resistance and Struggle’.

“I call on everyone, all the patriots to be there, it is an original event and we owe it to all those who have ploughed what is now occupied land,” said Panicos Hambas, general secretary of AKEL’s farmer’s union EKA.

According to Hambas, following the removal of mines in the buffer zone it was agreed that Greek Cypriots would be allowed to cultivate the land up to 200 metres from the Turkish guard post.

“The UN is responsible for the buffer zone and the property in that area belongs to Greek Cypriots, but the Turkish army, in a very well planned move, has violated that agreement and controls large areas of land from Achna to Petra,” he said.

Hambas added that drilling work is taking place by the Turks within the buffer-zone with the Electricity Authority (EAC) supplying the power at a time when there have been a number of power cuts in the government controlled areas and farmers are obliged to pay their bills fully and promptly or face court action.

The EKA leader said that letters were sent to the ministers of foreign affairs, defence, interior and agriculture and that the foreign ministry assured them that they would take all the necessary actions.

“The defence minister agreed with our arguments and said that our own research over a number of days within the buffer zone proved that we were correct and that discussions would begin with the UN so the land could be returned to the owners,” he said.

Hambas added that initial meetings have taken place with the local councils of Katokopia, Pano Zodia, Avlona and Peristerona and that more meetings with other communities would follow.

“Cyprus is occupied, but it is our responsibility and our patriotic duty to demand our land and to cultivate it,” he said.
It is with that in mind, Hambas said, that EKA is organising the march.

“It will be a peaceful march but we will go with our ploughs, sprinklers, harrows and all of our agricultural implements, as well as fertilisers and seeds so we can re-plough our occupied lands,” he said.

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