SEVEN deputies were among the 200-strong crowd that gathered outside the warehouse/packaging plant of Christos Christofi in Achna and tried to storm it, because the man had bought potatoes grown in the north. The mob, made up of farmers and potato exporters, was prevented from storming the premises by the police from the British bases.
It is astonishing that the intervention of the bases police was necessary, considering there were seven law-abiding members of the House of Representatives present. Could they not have dissuaded their fellow-protesters from breaking into the premises as this would constitute a violation of the law? Did they not feel, as lawmakers, they had a responsibility to prevent mob rule and keep the protest within the bounds of the law?
Probably not, as they were more than happy to join a protest against a man conducting his business in a lawful way. Christofi, who had signed a deal to buy potatoes from the north and export them through the Republic’s ports, had done everything according to the book as is stipulated by the EU’s, 2004 Green Line Regulation, which allows trade in agricultural products, under specific regulations.
Were the protesting deputies not aware of this? One of them, Disy’s Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis had the nerve to say on a radio show, after being asked what he was doing at the demonstrations, “we went to protest against the illegal trade.” Were the participating lawmakers so ignorant about the law or, were they showing disregard for the rule of law in order to pander to their constituents?
Whatever the case, their behaviour was disgraceful. Four were members of Disy, a party that supports the settlement talks yet they had joined forces with the fascists of Elam – represented by its two deputies – and an ultra-nationalist from Solidarity, who oppose any contact or trade with the Turkish Cypriots. Is stopping lawful trade between the two sides, through intimidation, Disy’s idea of supporting reunification? Disy should be encouraging trade rather than trying to stop it through the intimidation of a law-abiding citizen.
We should not fool ourselves. The protest was part of the ongoing intimidation and threats that Christofi has been subjected to ever since he decided to sign a deal to buy potatoes from the north last July. He stopped taking delivery of consignments after shots were fired outside his home, but resumed last week, so the protest was staged to step up the intimidation; Christofi had also received threatening phone calls telling him that his warehouse would be burned down. And there are deputies, not just from the fascist Elam, who condone this despicable behaviour by openly siding with the lynch-mob using patriotism to protect its financial interests.