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Christofias demands president’s intervention

Hambis Tsangaris at work

Former President Demetris Christofias urged President Anastasiades, to intervene and put an end to the blocking of the access road to the Hambis engraving school, which has been forced to close down as a result.

The Hambis printmaking school and centre in Platanistia village in the Limassol district announced would close down after the village’s community leader blocked the access road to it, because of a land dispute. Many were outraged by what happened including Akel, which called for the decision to be reversed.

Hambis printmaking museum

The founder of the establishment, engraver Hambis Tsaggaris, announced last week that the Hambis Printmaking Centre that includes a museum and an engraving school and workshop, would close down after the road leading to it was blocked off by the community leader of Platanistia, who claimed that it was part of a plot belonging to his son.

The paved road, the artist said, was constructed in 1997 by the Limassol district administration, on the suggestion of the then community leader, to facilitate access to the school but was also used by many others.  The current community leader of the village, Tsaggaris said, claimed that the road was part of a plot he had given to his son in 1993. Following a decision of the community council of Platanistia, the road in question was closed, blocking access to Tsaggaris’ school and museum.

In a written statement, last week, Tsaggaris said he was closing down his school, which had offered free courses to thousands of people in its 23 years of life, as there was no longer access to it.  He also implied the Limassol district officer was involved in the decision.

The school, Tsaggaris had said, was not a business to him as he was offering free courses in memory of his teacher, the renowned Greek engraver A. Tassos.

In his letter to Anastasiades, Christofias said that what is happening in Platanistia was “a murder of culture”.

The Hambis school, Christofias said, put the village of Platanistia – an unknown Turkish Cypriot village – on the map.

“I don’t know if you know – if you don’t learn it know – that your people in Limassol and Platanistia are turning into gravediggers of culture,” the letter said. Hambis was a renowned engraver, and had no financial benefit from his school, but enjoyed teaching for free and helping people become engravers, Christofias said.

The former president then directed his fire at the community leader. “The greed of the community leader and his wife has become and continues to be the cause of all illegality and boundless hatred that led to the closing down of the school and erasing the commendable work of Hambis,” Christofias wrote, and then criticised the apathy of the government.

Printmaking workshop

If there was a state, he said, it should have clamped down on the illegal actions of the Limassol district administration and the local authority instead of ignoring it. “I expect your immediate intervention for an end to this disgrace,” Christofias signed off.

Akel leader Andros Kyprianou had also criticised the failure of the state to act. He said the case would be reported to the authorities if the Limassol district administration and the interior ministry’s guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties did not resolve the issue.

There had been two reports by the ombudswoman, who had pointed out that both the museum and the school ought to have receive assistance to carry on serving their role, said Kyprianou.

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