As a regular visitor to the beautiful island of Cyprus and having a partner who is Greek Cypriot, I always look forward, with anticipation, to staying at our flat in Pervolia in the Larnaca district.
All that changed on our recent visit when we found that gangs of unruly youths had ‘taken over the town’. What I witnessed was beyond my comprehension, I could only imagine was like the scene out of an American Wild West movie! Or a street riot in Brixton in London.
Yet the locals are afraid to openly talk about it because of the fear of reprisals and threats to property and life, the police are powerless and ineffective at dealing with the issues, be it social ones or simply gang crime. Some weeks ago my partner reported to Kiti police that youths were breaking into local apartment blocks causing both criminal damage and stealing property to set up a camp on waste land next to the peaceful church of Ayia Irini and the town hall! Our reward for reporting this act was to have our property damaged. When reported to the police we were told ‘we can’t do anything because they are under 18’.
Talking to local shopkeepers a darker picture emerges of all night parties, fires, explosives, riding around the town on unsilenced motor bikes, pulling wheelies, riding at pedestrians and no helmets. Making threats at women of the town.
It all came to a head on the weekend of the March 11 when the police were called by various residents in the area and the police themselves were attacked and cars damaged. Rightly or wrongly, locals are talking of a local hero who came to the rescue with his shotgun! Yes, I couldn’t make this up! His reward was they set fire to the public road outside his property!
Churchgoers are now in fear of using the church car park because of the troubles and locals look out from behind shutters wondering how can this happen in modern day Cyprus and who is going to come to their rescue. Social issues are common in many countries but surely a crime is a crime?
Keith Demetriou Twyman