The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 29th February 2008
New AKEL President of Cyprus
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WIN CYPRUS ELECTION!
by our European Affairs Correspondent
THOUSANDS of jubilant Cypriots took to the streets on Sunday to
celebrate the victory of the communist candidate in the divided
island’s presidential elections. Demetris Christofias, the leader of
the Progressive Party of the Working People (AKEL) won with a 53 per
cent-plus share of the popular vote, defeating his right-wing
Democratic Rally rival, Ioannis Kasoulides, in the final round of the
Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat called Christofias as soon as
the results were confirmed to congratulate him on his victory and call
for fresh talks “without delay” to end the Cyprus conflict.
Throughout southern Cyprus victory celebrations were well under way by
Sunday evening. Drivers honked their horns and supporters lit bonfires
and flares when the official results were released while crowds marched
through the capital, Nicosia, waving red flags chanting “AKEL, AKEL,
now and forever!” and “Cyprus belongs to the people”.
Christofias was supported by the social-democrats, the greens and a
number of other democratic movements in the final round of voting that
followed the defeat of President Tassos Papadopoulos in the first round
the week before. Many people blamed Papadopoulos’ intransigence for the
stalemate with the Turks while Christofias and Kasoulides had both
pledged to kick-start negotiations during their campaigns.
Addressing an overflow rally in Nicosia Christofias said: “We have a
clear and noble vision: a vision to reunite our Cyprus, to free Cyprus
from the occupation and its consequences, turn it into a common
homeland for all its children, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.”
The new government, he declared, would work to build a strong economy
and it would prioritise education, health, culture, sports, the
environment and sustainable development.
Though Christofias said he would continue with the mixed economy on the
island, whose major industry is tourism, he said: “Our vision is also
for a more just society, with economic development that will go hand in
hand with more social justice in a modern sensitive and humane state
which will stand at the side of all our people who are in need.”
AKEL is the only Cypriot party to cross the sectarian divide. Though
overwhelmingly based amongst the Greek Cypriot community in the south
it has Turkish Cypriot members in the occupied north of the island and
amongst the Turkish Cypriots who work in the south.
The communists also have good contacts with most of the Turkish Cypriot
parties that are mainly social-democratic including Mehmet Ali Talat’s
own Republican Turkish Party.
Christofias is off for talks in Athens with Cyprus’s major ally, Greece
and then to Brussels to meet European Union officials. That will then
be followed by talks with the Turkish Cypriot leaders under the
auspices of the United Nations.
In northern Cyprus there’s considerable support for a new initiative
based on the “Annan Plan” that envisaged an island reunited along
federal lines. That was accepted by the Turks but rejected by
referendum by the Greek Cypriots in 2004. However, in recent years some
barriers have come down, allowing cross-island travel and giving
Turkish Cypriots, who are all legally citizens of the Republic of
Cyprus, easy access to work in southern Cyprus.
But Turkish Cypriots want a share of the economic benefits of the
prosperous south and to get much needed EU and UN funds to develop
their tourist industry and transport system. The thorny problems of the
rights of refugees on both sides of the fence and the powers of the
central government in a new federation remain and the key to progress
is still Turkey, which has over 30,000 troops stationed in northern
Turkey invaded Cyprus to “protect” the rights of the Turkish Cypriot
minority in 1974. But the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is
recognised by no one apart from themselves and the Turks have long
realised that the Cyprus problem is an obstacle to Ankara’s bid to join
But Turkey will want to retain bases on the island, like the two
British bases in the south, after any settlement and it will defend the
right of the 140,000 Turkish immigrants who have settled in northern
Cyprus since 1974.
The Cypriot communist movement has long campaigned for a viable,
workable and long-lasting solution to end the partition of Cyprus. The
first step to fulfilling that dream has now been taken with the
election of Demetris Christofias.
Who is to police
MORE than 100 lawyers who had
been working with the four-year-old Independent Police Complaints
Authority last week resigned from its advisory body. They sent a letter
to the IPCC chair Nick Hardwick complaining of “increasing dismay and
disillusionment” at “the consistently poor quality of decision-making
at all levels of the IPCC. The lawyers said they had tried to resolve
these problems before but the response to their efforts was “pitifully
The IPCC was set up in April 2004 after decades of complaints
about the inadequacy of police investigating complaints about
themselves. The Government began to get worried when it began to be
common knowledge that people with a genuine grievance against the
police stood a far better chance of justice by suing them in the courts
rather than leaving the matter with the existing Police Complaints
Reports of deaths in custody, especially black youths, formerly
in good health, mounted. Many more were seriously assaulted. The PCA
was useless to them and their families. The whole police service was
imbued with institutionalised racism. But it was not just black youths
who were victimised – so were the Irish, Gypsies, immigrants of any
kind and white working class youths. The was a culture among some young
police that regarded the whole general public as “the enemy”.
Compensation cases started appearing in the courts and winning
serious damages. In just one case in Plumstead, south east London,
Danny Goswell, a black youth, kneeling on the ground with his hands
cuffed behind him was attacked by a racist police constable with a
truncheon inflicting serious injury and permanent scars. He was awarded
over £300,000 damages against the Metropolitan Police force. The
judge described the awards as “exemplary” – a warning to the police
they could not get away with doing anything they pleased.
Then came the Stephen Lawrence racist murder and subsequent
inquiry which laid bare the extent of racism among many police officers
and their contempt for black victims of crime. There was a lot of
publicity and efforts from the top down to change the “canteen culture”
of racism and general contempt for the public.
These had some impact but visitors to Plumstead police station
were still finding BNP leaflets on the desk and officers at the station
were telling prison officers at nearby Belmarsh prison that “Stephen
Lawrence was murdered with his own weapon” – when they themselves had
significantly failed to find the murder weapon.
If you got your regular dose of news from the press or BBC you
could believe there had been great improvements. But black deaths in
custody continue; they just don’t get reported so much now.
Dev Barrah of the Greenwich Campaign for Racial Equality
explained, regarding the local Plumstead police: “You get one lot who
are decent, put them through all the ‘race awareness’ stuff and things
get better. Then they get posted and another lot arrive and you have to
start from square one all over again. And for many ‘community policing’
and ‘race awareness’ are just boxes to tick on their way up the
promotion ladder. They’re not really interested.”
The establishment of the IPCC in April 2004 was meant to be a big
step forward. It was supposed to mean independent scrutiny of
complaints against the police by people who were open-minded. The
lawyers who have just resigned complain that there is still no
effective oversight of investigations of complaints – and that the
investigations are still done mainly by serving or former police
They say there is a pattern of favouritism towards the police –
with some complaints dismissed in spite of powerful supporting
evidence. Investigators have been indifferent and rude to complainants;
complaints take years to resolve and managers who take decisions have
no legal training.
For some families in death in custody cases, the fact that the
case has been referred to the IPCC means everything becomes shrouded in
secrecy during the investigation and they must wait months or years to
find out how their loved one died.
It seems the complainants could be better advised to take their
cases back to the courts.
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