President Nikos Christodoulides on Monday night condemned the violent clashes that took place in Chlorakas, which led to arrests and hospital treatments after a number of migrants were attacked.
“Violence is condemnable. Those who are involved or responsible will face justice.”
He said violence fails to solve any problems and is condemnable wherever it comes from.
Nonetheless, far right party Elam moved to paint a a picture of pre-WWII Europe, saying mass arrests and deportations are the only solution to Cyprus’ migration issue,
In a defiant message, the party blamed migrants for the damage to properties and attacks on people in Chlorakas on Sunday night.
The violence was widely condemned by most political forces – with Akel calling it an organised pogrom against migrants – and the government.
But Elam poured petrol on the flames in its version of the violence following an anti-migrant protest in Chlorakas, Paphos.
The police and most authorities said that the attacks were on migrant properties and migrants themselves living in the area.
“We want back our neighbourhoods, our villages, our cities that have ghettoised. We want out country back,” the party said in a statement.
They added that the government needs to implement a strict migration policy, including mass arrests and deportations, “for all that do not respect the hospitality of our country”.
Speaking to reporters on the way to an anti-occupation event, Christodoulides said he had spoken to the police chief and justice minister that were having meetings with the local authorities and a group of Syrian migrants.
“The orders are clear: ensure public order and the feeling of safety in citizens which is non-negotiable.”
Christodoulides assed immigration is a high-priority issue for the government and violence has no role to play in helping to tackle the problem.
“For the past four months, those who leave the country are more than those who arrive. We have increased migrant returns by 55 per cent.”
In the meantime, the government condemned the attacks in Chlorakas on migrants’ cars and properties, with government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis saying violence is not something that can be accepted in a civilised country.
“We can only condemn what happened yesterday in Chlorakas. Violence, violation of public safety is not something we can accept, and it is a rule that violence begets violence. There are the security bodies which will be able to ensure this public safety,” he said.
He added that after last Monday’s meeting held at the presidential palace on the migrant issue in Chlorakas, an operation was launched the very next day to record migrants in a specific complex and was completed last Friday.
He said that that the government is still currently in the middle of a relocation procedure.
“The ordinance will be implemented, the building [where migrants have been squatting] in two weeks will be vacated and sealed so that the ordinance can be implemented,” Letymbiotis said.
Police have so far arrested four people, two migrants and two Greek Cypriots, while investigations are underway to locate other perpetrators.
Updated police reports revealed a different picture of events than the one reported late on Sunday about the escalation of incidents following a protest by locals against the community’s “ghettoisation”.
Following a march by 300 residents and supporters from other communities, which took place in a tense atmosphere under heavy police presence, but ended without incident, participants split into smaller groups which instigated acts of malicious damage against foreigners’ residences and cars.
According to police spokesman Christos Andreou, the force has received eight complaints, two from people who were attacked and injured, and six for malicious damage to property.
“My parents have been in Cyprus for 17 years, and they never caused a problem, and today you are entering our home and beating us,” Bashar Ibrahim said on social media.
He said ‘protesters’ broke into their house and hit them.
One of the most serious complaints, Andreou said, concerns a group of Greek Cypriots who damaged the main entrance of an apartment, then attacked and injured a foreigner.
Another serious complaint concerns the smashing of windows and damaging of equipment in a restaurant owned by a foreigner, the perpetrators of which have yet to be identified.
The third most serious complaint concerns the overturning of a car.
The remaining five complaints, Andreou added, concern the hurling of rocks and using wood to cause damage to several vehicles.
To deal with and suppress the incidents, the entire Paphos police force and anti-riot unit were called to the scene with further reinforcements sent from Limassol, Larnaca and CID headquarters.
The two arrested migrants aged 34 and 21, were detained for disorderly conduct and possession of an offensive weapon, after police investigated a group of eight foreigners causing concern.
At around 1.30am on Monday, a 21-year-old Greek Cypriot was arrested for the possession of an offensive weapon. His arrest was preceded by a stop-and-search of the car he was driving where a bat was found, police reported.
In addition, police secured a warrant and proceeded to arrest a 32-year-old in connection with the above offences.
One Syrian migrant said he had pushed his child to the side to protect them after he was threatened with a knife and kicked to the ground. Speaking to the state broadcaster with evident scarring, he said he had to be treated at the hospital.
The incidents started around 8pm, an hour after a march by residents against the community’s “ghettoisation” which ended peacefully, according to Cyprus News Agency.
Shortly before midnight, an apartment in the area was in danger of burning down from a fire that started from the balcony from unknown causes. Thanks to the timely intervention of the occupants, the fire was extinguished before it spread.
In other earlier incidents, cars sustained extensive damages while one vehicle was overturned and windows were smashed in houses and shops. Police have attributed damages to both Greek Cypriots and Syrians.
Police used teargas to disperse groups in an effort to prevent further attacks, while the anti-riot unit was called in.
Chief of police, Stylianos Papatheodorou and a strong police presence remain in the area while CCTV footage is being examined.
Earlier, on Sunday afternoon the 300 residents from Chlorakas and the surrounding areas, as well as party representatives, held a march regarding the migrant isse in the area and the Ayios Nikolaos (St Nicholas Elegant Residences) complex relocation operation.
The event, which started at 6pm in the afternoon and ended an hour later, saw protestors shouting slogans for the removal from Chlorakas of all “who live illegally in the territory of the Republic,” while the main theme of the organisers was the “de-ghettoisation of Chlorakas”.
Letymbiotis said that Sunday’s disturbance reconfirms the government belief it is essential to set up a deputy ministry of immigration.
The relevant bill for the ministry was sent to parliament in June.
“Effectively dealing with immigration is one of the government’s priorities. Already, in recent months we are witnessing a reversal, for the first time, of balances, departures are more than arrivals and this is the first time in several years. Already, the number of application examiners has increased, the number of pending applications has decreased, and we will continue in this direction,” he said.