THE founder and owner of the Hambis printmaking school in Platanistia village in the Limassol district launched a petition on Monday calling on the government to open the access road to his school, blocked by the village’s community leader last week over a land dispute.
Hambis Tsangaris, in his petition to the government, launched through Avaaz online platform, is demanding the access road to the Hambis printmaking centre be opened and therefore comply with a 2015 report by the ombudswoman who had pointed out that the school ought to have receive assistance to carry on serving its cultural role.
Earlier in the month, Tsangaris said, the ombudswoman gave the Limassol district administration and the community council 10 days to explain why what had been asked in the 2015 report was not applied.
The artist announced last week that his engraving school that also includes a museum would close because the road leading to it had been blocked off by the community leader of Platanistia, who claimed that it was part of a plot belonging to his son.
The paved road, he 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.
Platanistia, Tsangaris told the Cyprus Mail, is a Turkish Cypriot village and all property is being leased to individuals by the interior ministry’s guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties.
He said he founded his school there in 1995, but access to it had been a dirt road.
“The former community leader, who had appreciated my work, arranged for it to be paved by the Limassol district administration,” Tsangaris said.
A house on another part of the plot adjacent to the school was used by other tenants, but after the previous tenants left, the new community leader arranged for the plot to be given to his son to live in. According to Tsangaris, he also blocked access to the school, claiming that the path in question is within his son’s plot.
“Since access to our school has been closed, we suspended its operations until the road is opened again,” he said. The school was offering free printmaking courses and were in memory of Tsangaris’ teacher, the renowned Greek engraver A. Tassos.
Tsangaris said that even though the Limassol district officer has said he would find other access roads for his school, there was no other way.
“I am waiting for him to come over and find another passage to the school,” he said.
He added that he had been encountering numerous problems over the years caused by the community council, such as blocking the entrance with obstacles, irrational taxation and yelling and swearing in front of pupils visiting the school and museum.
“They want to choke the museum and school,” Tsangaris said.
An official source close to the case, told the Cyprus Mail that there were two other roads to the school and that the disputed access road is illegal as it is passing through another person’s plot.
But in his petition, Tsangaris said that the disputed road is the only viable access to the school for vehicle access which is necessary when transporting heavy equipment and materials and for disabled people to visit.
Without this entrance, there is no school, he said.
“The school is dying and there is no alternative entrance because it is impossible for a car to enter from any other point to the school,” he said.
The community leader of Platanistia was not immediately available to comment.
In a written statement last week, Tsangaris 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.
Many were outraged by what happened including Akel, which called for the decision to be reversed. Former President Demetris Christofias urged President Anastasiades, to intervene and put an end to the blocking of to the engraving school.
The petition may be found here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/community_petitions/Kratos_Na_anoixei_to_perasma_pros_tin_Eisodo_tis_Sholis_Haraktikis_Hampi_3/?emEzDpnb&utm_source=sharetools&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition-552109-Kratos_Na_anoixei_to_perasma_pros_tin_Eisodo_tis_Sholis_Haraktikis_Hampi&utm_term=EzDpnb+en