Cyprus Mail

1974 POWs say government has gone back on benefits pledge

Prisoners of war from 1974 have accused the government of rejecting every application for the honorary allowances promised earlier this year, claiming the pledge was nothing more than pre-election fireworks.

President of the Prisoners of War Association, Vasos Christou, told Phileftheros that the government had informed all members of the association, either in writing or by telephone, that they are not entitled to the allowance promised by a cabinet-approved bill in January this year .

According to Christou, members are being rejected either because they cannot be identified in military lists, or because they are considered to have been hostages and not prisoners of war. Others have been rejected because applicants cannot be found in the Red Cross registry.

Though the law provides that holders of a Red Cross certificate from the 1974 fighting are considered prisoners of war, one said he was denied his allowance even though he presented his Red Cross certificate. Another claimed he was rejected because he could not provide a national guard service number, even though this was impossible because the Cypriot national guard was only established after his group was no longer active. “Does that mean I wasn’t a prisoner of war?”

War prisoners had previously requested from the labour minister, Zeta Emilianidou, to be exempted from the 12 per cent pension deduction in the case of early retirement, to which she responded that no one was exempt from the legislation.

In June she proposed instead an allowance depending on pension received, which translated to a €5.70 bonus for those who receive a pension of €1,500 and €59.70 for those who receive a pension of €700.

Though the prisoners of war said they disagreed with the adequacy of the proposal, they accepted it in view of anticipated improvements in honorary allowances.

According to the law passed in January, the allowance would be proportional to how long the prisoners of war spent in a Turkish jail during and after the invasion.

A home-care plan for prisoners of war was also approved under which beneficiaries included those with an annual income of €19,000 or less – the tax-free ceiling – and who have less than €20,000 in bank deposits.

In addition to being rejected the allowance, Christou said that prisoners of war are being denied other benefits they are entitled to, such as the home-care plan and free medical treatment, as 2.5 per cent is still being shaved off their earnings.



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