A new wave of protests began in Chlorakas on Monday night with groups of people chanting “get out” as part of a fresh attack against migrants living in the area.
The protest began shortly after a peaceful demonstration wrapped up, following assurances by Justice Minister Anna Procopiou that the government would take care of the problem.
Nonetheless, while Procopiou was still in a meeting with the police chief, groups of protestors set fire to a car – believed to belong to an immigrant that spoke out against the mukhtar. Officers reportedly arrested 20 individuals and had to use teargas to break apart the escalating violence.
Earlier on Monday night, around 300 Syrian residents in Chlorakas held a peaceful protest, to demonstrate against the racially motivated attack against them on Sunday which was instigated by several Elam officials.
Procopiou and police chief Stelios Papatheodorou were in Chlorakas for a meeting with Paphos’ police leadership as well as a group of Syrian migrants who live in the village.
Though there were no official statements made to the press, the Cyprus News Agency cited police sources that all sides agreed it was of paramount importance to diffuse the tension and avoid similar situations.
The peaceful demonstration was held without any issues, as organisers stressed their purpose was not to create tension. It came to an end after Procopiou assured the Syrian nationals that they would take care of the problems and also aid with repair works for any damages.
Once the demo died down however, the clashes began anew, with videos circulating of people chanting “get out” in Greek.
The incident follows an anti-immigrant protest which took place on Sunday night that turned extremely violent after the march – which gathered over 1,000 people according to the mukhtar – splintered into smaller groups and began attacking foreign nationals living in Chlorakas.
Businesses owned by migrants saw their shop-fronts smashed and vehicles overturned, while foreign nationals reported falling victim to violent attacks.
One Cypriot resident said “after what I saw yesterday, I think we’re the barbarians, not the Arabs.”
He charged that a group of thugs broke into a home with seven underage children and their mother and began breaking things inside the house.
Another elderly Cypriot man said they were warned that Elam members may “punish” locals who chose not to participate in the protest.
He said it was clear they knew exactly which houses to target, as a large group came knocking down the street and eventually a group broke into his store room and stole meat skewers and a shovel.
Charalambos Pittokipitis, a former Diko MP from the area said a Greek Cypriot woman who tried to protect a young child from Syria ended up “getting punched by one of our own.”
He described the protest as an act of barbarism, adding that it was “completely pointless” as the government had only last week decided that Chlorakas migrants from an apartment complex would be moved to Kofinou, with the transfer already wrapped.
Refugee NGO Kisa accused Chlorakas mukhtar Nicolas Liasides for taking part in the riots and allegedly attacking a Syrian man, who tried to protect his eight-year-old daughter, and was consequently hit by the mukhtar.
Liasides did not directly deny the charge but accused Kisa of targeting him, adding he was reserving all his legal rights.
President Nicos Christodoulides condemned the violence, as did most political parties – but for Elam.