Turkish Cypriot farmers on Monday threatened to “break down the doors” of the north’s ‘prime minister’s’ office if the three men arrested during a protest earlier in the day are not released.

Farmers from across the north had descended on northern Nicosia, announcing an “indefinite” protest against the north’s ‘government’s’ decision to import meat from the Netherlands and the low prices offered for products such as raw milk and livestock compared to the rising costs of production.

They had parked their tractors and other farming vehicles in front of the ‘prime minister’s’ office, with trade union leaders making statements outside the building.

“We are witnessing the biggest protest of recent times. Hooray for you, prime minister, be proud of yourself. They say, ‘the people are happy’ and try to deceive us. We are the people, we are the workers,” Free trade unions’ federation (Hur-Is) chairman Ahmet Serdaroglu said.

He added that farmers reject the premise of imported meat and believe that the currently set low prices will increase in a time, “lining the pockets” of those in power.

Referring to the ongoing and thus far fruitless discussions regarding a raise in the north’s minimum wage, he asked, “are you considering the people? You cannot even set a minimum wage. You aren’t thinking about the people. It’s a complete lie.”

Municipal workers’ union (Bes) chairman Mustafa Yalinkaya said the ‘government’ is planning to “cut us off from our production and give away our lands”.

“That is all they care about … The corruption and fraud going on within the cabinet is rampant. We know they are making policies based on meat for a few capitalists. Our problem is not only meat, but our struggle to exist,” he said.

After the speeches had drawn to a close, a number of demonstrators attempted to push through the line of police and into the ‘prime minister’s’ office. Police pushed them back, and a brawl ensued.

Three men were arrested following the brawl, with the farmers then promising to “break down the door” should the trio not be released.