Turkish Cypriot authorities were criticised this week after Cameroonian anti-racism campaigner Emmanuel Achiri discovered he has been barred from going to the north, despite having lived there for almost a decade.

According to what the north’s ‘interior ministry’ told the Cyprus Mail, Achiri has indeed been declared persona non grata there, but failed to give a reason.

Achiri had previously lived in the north for a total of eight years, earning a doctorate from Eastern Mediterranean University. He has since moved to Belgium, where he works as a policy and advocacy advisor for the European Network Against Racism.

In a social media post, he announced that he had been refused entry to the north after attempting to cross at the Ledras Street crossing point but was denied entry.

He had been on the island as part of an official delegation alongside members of the European Parliament and one German MP, explaining that the aim of his trip to the island was to “monitor migration management”.

He added, “I have to say that I am shocked. I studied … and lived in northern Cyprus for eight years. During this time, I was a model student, a teaching assistant at the Eastern Mediterranean University for six years.”

He also mentioned that he had co-founded the advocacy group for third-country national students in the north ‘Voice of International Students (Vois)’.

He added “I also consider northern Cyprus as home, and probably care more about the people who lived here more than most of the politicians do.”

Additionally, he said, “it seems that the reason for this ban is because of my political activities.”

The Cyprus Mail contacted the north’s ‘interior ministry’, which confirmed that Achiri had been declared persona non grata but said it could not disclose the specific reasons as to why.

In response to Achiri’s banning from the north, the north’s Network Against Racism said “we condemn the unjust treatment of Emmanuel Achiri.”

“We would like to emphasise that this attitude is unacceptable. The unjust treatment of Emmanuel Achiri is evidence of the lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms … We consider that this is a violation of his rights,” they said.