Motor Bike Rally to Kyrenia in occupied Cyprus '96

7000 European Bikers and Euro MP's Ride from the former divided city of Berlin to the divided city of Nicosia to protest against the Turkish occupation and division of the island since the Turkish invasion of 1974

[01] Bikers ready to start anti-occupation ride

[02] Bikers' anti-occupation ride cancelled

[03] UN welcomes cancellation of ride

[04] Bikers indignant over cancelled ride

[05] Cypriot MPs ask to cross into occupied areas

[06] Bikers in buffer zone

[07] Presidential address - Motorcyclist chief apologises

[08] Greek Cypriots beaten by Turks

[09] Young man killed by Turks in anti-occupation rally

[10] Demonstrators suffered shotgun wounds

[11] President condemns murder of Greek Cypriot demonstrator

[12] Police account of anti-occupation

[13] Bikers' run bigger than European borders

[14] Anti-occupation rally fizzles out

[15] Turkey responsible for killing, says Euro Socialist leader

[16] Demonstrator died of multiple head injuries, says coroner

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[01] Bikers ready to start anti-occupation ride

Nicosia, Aug 11 1996 (CNA) -- As the motorcyclists ride from Berlin to Turkish-occupied Kyrenia will be underway at 1100 (0800 GMT) today, the United Nations Chief has appealed to the government to take effective measures to prevent unauthorised entry into the UN-controlled buffer zone which divides the island.

Thousands of bikers set off from various starting points of the free areas of the island and are now heading to Dherynia village, situated at the eastern end of the dividing line on a hill overlooking the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta, to begin their ride which has alarmed the Turkish regime in the occupied north of the island.

The bikers' ride began on August 2 from the once divided city of Berlin and has taken them through various European capitals, before reaching yesterday Cyprus for the last leg of the ride to Kyrenia.

Today, they are expected to ride along the buffer zone from Dherynia to Nicosia, where they will attempt to cross to the Turkish occupied areas and complete their ride to Kyrenia.

Police detained a number of motorcyclists last night on suspicion that they would use explosives during the ride. They were released later in the night.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in a statement distributed last night by his spokesman, ''expressed his concern at reports that a Greek Cypriot motorcycle association is planning to violate the ceasefire lines as well as the UN buffer zone in Cyprus on Sunday, 11 August.''

The spokesman said the Secretary-General ''hopes that the organisers of this event will avoid a course of action that could only harm efforts to resolve the long standing Cyprus problem.''

Finally, he said: ''The Secretary-General calls on the government of Cyprus to take effective measures, in exercise of its responsibilities, to prevent any unauthorised entry into the UN buffer zone''.

According to the Turkish Cypriot press, a counter-demonstration will take place in the occupied areas. Around 2.500 bikers, who would come from Turkey, will attempt to cross into the free areas to ''visit the Hala Sultan mosque'' in Larnaca. Also, the extreme-right organisation ''Grey Wolves'' has threatened to enter the free areas if the buffer zone is violated while the Turkish occupation forces said they will punish those who will cross over.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Motorcyclists Federation was meeting this morning with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice and Public Order, Alecos Michaelides and Alecos Evangelou, as well as the police leadership were taking part in the meeting. President Clerides is expected to remain at the Presidential Palace throughout the ride and to be informed about developments.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.


[02] Bikers' anti-occupation ride cancelled

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- The anti-occupation ride organised by the Cyprus Motorcyclists Federation has been cancelled foe security reasons, it was announced this morning.

The decision was announced by the Federation President George Hadjicostas, after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

President Clerides is expected to make a statement on this decision.

The Presidential Palace meeting was also attended by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice and Public Order, Alecos Michaelides and Alecos Evangelou and the police leadership.

The Federation called on all its members to gather in Nicosia instead of going to Dherynia village, on the eastern end of the dividing line, from where the bikers were originally scheduled to start their anti-occupation demonstration along the buffer zone. More later


[03] UN welcomes cancellation of ride

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- The UN welcomes the cancellation of the motorcyclists' ride which aimed to demonstrate the opposition of the people of Cyprus to the division of the island and the violation of their basic human right of free movement by the Turkish occupation troops.

The cancellation of the ride which was to reach its final stage today, has been announced by the president of the Cyprus Federation of Motorcyclists George Hadjicostas a short while ago.

Meanwhile asked by CNA to comment on the developments, UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski expressed satisfaction with this development.

''We are happy with every step which diffuses the situation'', he said.

Asked whether the UN Chief's statement calling on the Cyprus government ''to take effective measures, in exercise of its responsibilities, to prevent any unauthorised entry into the UN buffer zone'', has prompted the decision to cancel the ride, Rokoszewski said ''it certainly had a positive impact''.

The decision to cancel the ride, Hadjicostas has explained to the hundreds of motorcyclists that had gathered at Makarios stadium in Nicosia, was reached during a morning meeting at the Presidential Palace with President Glafcos Clerides and the leadership of the Police.

''We have been convinced that it is wiser to cancel the ride'', he told the bikers.


[04] Bikers indignant over cancelled ride

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- Hundreds of angry motorcyclists have expressed their indignation over the cancellation of a much-publicised ride from Berlin to the Turkish-occupied town of Kyrenia.

At the same time, the President of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation George Hadjicostas has disclosed that ''security and political reasons'' made it necessary to cancel the anti-occupation rally.

''We were told that the rally would have harmed government efforts to solve the Cyprus question and we are here to offer support to the state, not antagonise it,'' Hadjicostas told the press here.

''I would have been happier if the ride were to finish in Kyrenia but I also believe we have brought the Cyprus problem into the limelight in a positive manner,'' he added.

One biker told CNA after the announcement for the cancellation was made he was ''very upset'' and a second participant expressed ''frustration and indignation'' about the course of events.

Many motorcyclists refused to obey the call of their leadership and have taken to the streets. Others gathered at various spots, near the UN-controlled buffer zone, in an attempt to express their feelings of frustration, but so far we have no confirmed reports about any bikers breaking into the buffer zone.

The President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides is due to address the nation shortly with regard to today's developments.


[05] Cypriot MPs ask to cross into occupied areas

Dherynia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- Five Cypriot MPs have asked the UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus to allow them to cross into the Turkish-occupied areas to convey their Turkish Cypriot compatriots a message for peace and reunification of Cyprus. MPs Marios Matsakis, Katerina Paschalidou Pandelidou, Demetris Eliades, Antonis Karas and Christos Mavrokordatos, together with Famagusta municipal counsellor Stefis Stefanou and a small number of citizens are awaiting at the UN check point here for an answer from UNFICYP.

In an oral statement to UNFICYP, Matsakis told the UNFICYP area officer that what they want is to ''give the message that we want peace'' and to be allowed to cross into the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta.

''We are ordinary people, the people across are like us. We want to show our willingness that Cyprus is united again and that we should not be afraid of each other'', Matsakis said.

The UNFICYP officer told the MPs he will convey their message to his superiors and to the Turkish Cypriots.

The MPs went to Dherynia area, the eastern end of the dividing line, where an anti-occupation motorcyclists' ride was scheduled to start this morning.

The ride was finally cancelled for security reasons after the intervention of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.


[06] Bikers in buffer zone

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- Reports are coming in of a small number of motorcyclists breaking into the UN-controlled buffer zone in ''Sopaz'' area, on the eastern part of Nicosia.

Police have confirmed that some bikers riding their machines and a few others on foot have entered the buffer zone, where small fires have broken out.

According to press reports a UN and a Cyprus Police helicopter are flying over the area while a fire engine and men of the Police Anti-terrorist Unit have arrived at the area.

A group of other bikers were heading for the Achna area, which is situated between the British Base Area of Dhekelia and the Turkish-occupied territory.

The bikers defied instructions from their leaders of the Cyprus Motorcyclists Federation, who cancelled the anti-occupation ride for ''political and security reasons'', at the request of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.


[07] Presidential address - Motorcyclist chief apologises

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides has expressed satisfaction with the compliance of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation (CMF) with his request to cancel the last part of today's anti-occupation rally, which started from Berlin on August 2.

The President has also praised the ''patriotism, courage and sense of responsibility'' of the bikers and told them they have done a great job to publicise Cyprus' demand for freedom and justice.

On his part, CMF President George Hadjicostas apologised to the hundreds of bikers and supporters of the rally for the cancellation of the ride but stressed that the decision to cancel the rally was taken with a heavy heart.

In a televised address to the nation, the President thanked publicly the CMF for their initiative to organise the ride and extended special thanks to the Greek and other foreign participants.

''They conveyed the message that Turkey's occupation of Cyprus' northern areas is continuing and the people of Cyprus are deprived of their fundamental freedoms,'' the President said.

He described the service all bikers have done for Cyprus as ''an immense contribution to Cyprus because it has touched a cord among the international community about the continuing violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey in Cyprus.''

The President said he had urged the CMF leadership to alter their plans and explained to them in detail ''the serious reasons that warrant this change.''

Expressing satisfaction for the bikers' response, patriotism, courage and sense of responsibility, Clerides declared ''as the President of the Cyprus Republic, having examined in a calm manner all the information before me and in full knowledge of my responsibilities to the people of Cyprus, I have come to the conclusion that I had to ask the CMF leadership to modify the last part of their successful ride.''

I am satisfied, the President added, because the CMF leadership ''responded in a positive manner and did so after I had briefed them extensively.''

He referred to concerns by the UN Secretary-General about the intention of the CMF to violate the UN-controlled buffer zone and measures taken by the Turkish side to give the impression that the confrontation was apparently between the bikers and Turkish Cypriots.

''The Turkish side has organised groups which were instructed to confront the bikers to justify the intervention of the Turkish occupation troops,'' he revealed.

On his part, Hadjicostas told bikers that after a detailed briefing by the President, ''I weighed the pros and cons of the situation and we decided.

''Following a detailed briefing by the President on this morning's intervention by the UN Secretary-General and others, we considered the advantages and disadvantages and decided with a heavy heart to halt our ride here,'' he told the press.

It would have been far easier for us, he added, to go ahead and get the applause but ''bearing in mind the harm we might have done to Cyprus, we accepted the President's advice and cancelled the ride.''

''I am sorry that I have disappointed many people who backed our ride and I apologise to them. I am aware that many bikers feel bitter about this development but I assure them that the leadership of our Federation was even more disappointed,'' Hadjicostas said.

He said the purpose of the much-publicised ride was to tell Europe and the world that human rights and in particular the right to free movement are being violated.

In the past few days, he said, the Federation had received many threats from Turkey and the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime but all were ignored.


[08] Greek Cypriots beaten by Turks

Dherynia Aug 11 (CNA) -- At least two Greek Cypriots were badly beaten by Turks or Turkish Cypriots with battons when they were entangled in the barbed wire in the UN-controlled buffer zone during a demonstration against continuing Turkish occupation.

Scores of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots entered the buffer zone while helpless UN peace-keepers stood by. Both injured were taken to hospital for treatment.

UN Peace-keeping force spokesman Waldemar Rokoszweski told CNA the UN ''has limited resources and cannot therefore keep an eye on every spot along the buffer zone.''

The UN spokesman has also indirectly criticised the Cypriot authorities and the Turkish Cypriot regime, in occupied Cyprus, for not ''being able to stop their respective civilians from encroaching the buffer zone.''

The UN peace-keepers, he said, are neither deployed, or equipped nor trained for crowd control.

Asked if the UN will make representations to the Cyprus government and the illegal regime, he said it was perhaps too premature to speculate but the UN spokesman hinted, indirectly albeit clearly, that he held the Cyprus government responsible for the violation of the buffer zone.

He referred specifically to today's statement by UN Secretary-General, who called on the government of Cyprus to ''take effective measures to prevent any unauthorised entry into the UN buffer zone.''

The spokesman said some 1,000 out of around 1,200 UN peace-keepers on the island were deployed for today's rally.

In different incidents, more than 13 persons are reported injured from live ammunition and rubber bullets, fired by Turkish occupation troops who are in close proximity to defiant bikers and other people.

A spokesman for Larnaca General Hospital told CNA most of the injured are men in their 30s.

Other injured people were taken to Paralimni hospital.

The bikers were all set to begin the last leg of their anti-occupation ride to the Turkish-occupied port of Kyrenia only to be told hours before the start that the ride was called off.

All local television networks had live coverage of the ride from various locations while many foreign media took a special interest in today's rally.


[09] Young man killed by Turks in anti-occupation rally

Dherynia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- One Greek Cypriot youth has died as a result of serious head injuries he sustained after being badly beaten by Turks during an anti-occupation demonstration in the buffer zone here today.

Tasos Isaac, 24, from Paralimni village, on the eastern coast, was one of many Greek Cypriot who entered the buffer zone during today's rally and were then involved in scuffles with the Turkish Cypriots, also in the buffer zone.

Isaac, who was at the mercy of his killers, as he was trapped in barbed wire and could not resist, died on the way to hospital according to witnesses.

He was trapped in barbed wire in the buffer zone and was then beaten by several Turks.


[10] Demonstrators suffered shotgun wounds

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- A number of demonstrators that were confronted with the Turkish occupation forces in the area of the British Bases on the island have suffered shotgun wounds, according to a British Forces press release.

''Among a number of confrontations along the UN buffer zone and the Turkish forces cease fire line today were two in the eastern sovereign base area that led to a number of people being injured, some of the injuries from shotgun wounds'', the statement says.

It says that a civilian was seriously injured, while two sovereign base area police officers (Cypriots) and five other Cypriot civilians sustained slight injuries and one man was treated for injury caused by stones.

It also notes that ''so far as is known, no high velocity weapons were fired.''

Air Vice-Marshal Peter Millar, Administrator of the British bases, described as ''particularly regrettable that these incidents took place'' despite the agreement of the president of the motorcyclists' federation to call off the ride, this morning, at the request of President Glafcos Clerides.


[11] President condemns murder of Greek Cypriot demonstrator

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides condemned here tonight the murder of a Greek Cypriot demonstrator by the Turkish occupation regime and called on the international community to understand that the continuing Turkish occupation of part of Cyprus is a provocation.

In a statement, issued here after the killing earlier today, the President said ''this criminal and abhorrent act is another example of the ruthlessness of the occupation troops and constitutes a blatant contempt of every principle of international law and violation of UN fundamental principles.''

The government, he said, will protest ''this new horrific crime internationally and to all directions.''

The statement also said ''the murder provides yet more telling evidence that the tolerance of the continuing occupation intensifies the provocative behaviour of the occupation troops and encourages the licence of these troops and the self-styled Turkish Cypriot state.''

The President noted that unfortunately the information made known to the government late last night and today had been confirmed.

The information, the President added, had led him to ask the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation leadership to modify today's last part of the anti-occupation rally, which is what happened.

Expressing ''shock and deep sorrow for the inhuman murder'' of the 24-year old Anastasios (Tasos) Isaac, from Paralimni, by the occupation troops and the Turkish Cypriot pseudostate, the President extended his ''condolences and sympathy'' to his widow and his family.

The government has announced that the funeral of the dead Greek Cypriot will be at the state's expense.


[12] Police account of anti-occupation

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- The toll of today's aborted anti-occupation rally was one person dead and 41 injured, 36 Greek Cypriot civilians, three police officers and two police officers serving with one of the two British bases on the island.

Health Minister Manolis Christofides, who visited the injured persons in hospitals in Larnaca and Paralimni, said a total of 56 persons were injured during the demonstrations.

Police said in a statement, here late today, the dead person, Anastasios (Tasos) Isaac, a newly married 24-year-old man whose wife is pregnant, from Paralimni, ''was trapped in barbed wire in the buffer zone and was beaten by the Turkish occupation troops with stones and batons.''

The statement said police ''implemented a contingency plan, prepared to deal with tension and serious danger, which could possible arise from undisciplined events.''

The statement said demonstrators withdrew from all points in the UN-controlled buffer zone they had gathered at earlier today.

Increased tension was notable at various points along the 180-kilometre long buffer zone and ''the police were trying to avoid any confrontation with the demonstrators on the one hand and avert the danger of entering the buffer zone on the other.''

Police have acknowledged that their task was made even more difficult by the great length of the ceasefire line and the line's border with the British base of Dhekelia where the Cyprus police has no jurisdiction.

There was increased trouble in three specific areas, in ''Sopaz'', on the eastern side of Nicosia, near Achna village in close proximity to the British bases and in the village of Dherynia, on the eastern end of the dividing line.

More than 2,000 people were involved in scuffles in all three locations, it added.


[13] Bikers' run bigger than European borders

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- ''This run is bigger than European borders and is for freedom of movement'', European bikers, who gathered at the Ledra Palace check point in Nicosia, the world's only divided capital, said here this evening.

Around 200 bikers, in their greatest majority Europeans who took part in the pan-European ride which started from Berlin on August 2 and which aimed to finish in the Turkish-occupied northern coastal town of Kyrenia gathered at Ledra Palace and attempted through the UN Peace-keeping Force on the island (UNFICYP) to cross into the occupied areas.

Thirteen representatives of the bikers coming from 13 different European countries, accompanied by UNFICYP members reached the Turkish occupation army check point and asked for permission for all bikers to ride to Kyrenia.

''They (the Turkish forces) asked us to fill in a written application for ourselves and the bikers with us to go through'', a British representative of the European motorcyclists, told reporters.

''This we refused to do'', he said, adding the Turkish occupation forces asked ''what the point was all about'', a question he refused to answer.

''This run is bigger than European borders'', the British motorcyclist stressed, noting that in their ride from the ''ex divided city of Berlin to the currently divided city of Nicosia'' they crossed ''many borders and failed to cross only one, that, of Serbia.''

''Now'', he added, ''the Turkish authorities have refused to let us pass without this written authority'' and noted that the occupation army has ''no problem'' with the foreign bikers but had emphatically stated that ''on no account were they going to let the Greek Cypriots through, no matter how many applications they wrote. This was made clear to us'', he said.

''Again, I made the point, I do not care where anybody comes from, or where they are intending to go. The point is freedom of movement for all bikers, throughout the world, across all borders'', the British representative said noting that this is the message he will take back to Britain.

On his part former General Secretary of the Federation of European Motorcyclists Ricardo Forte, expressed disappointment with the fact that they failed to ride to Kyrenia.

He did however express the hope that the ride would prove useful towards the resolution of the Cyprus problem where two communities are kept separated by forces, who are over their head.

He added ''the mission has been accomplished because the media have been paying very much attention to this and the news has spread out throughout the world.''

Support towards the people of Cyprus was also expressed by a representative of the Greek motorcyclists participating in the ride, who stressed that today's event reminded the world of the problem of Cyprus and of the human right of freedom of movement.


[14] Anti-occupation rally fizzles out

Nicosia, Aug 11 (CNA) -- A much-publicised anti-occupation ride has come to an untimely end as bikers, Cypriots and Europeans, dispersed abandoning not only their initial objective but also the last leg of their ride in Cyprus.

Motorcyclists have withdrawn from different points where they had gathered to protest the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus' northern areas and people are pondering the repercussions of today's events, which left one Greek Cypriot dead and 41 injured.

The aborted ride, which set off from Berlin on August 2, was meant to finish in the Turkish-occupied town of Kyrenia, but the last leg of the ride was cancelled hours before it was due to start after a presidential plea by President Glafcos Clerides.

The President cited reasons of national security for his decision while the President of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation George Hadjicostas quoted ''security and political'' reasons for his decision to call a halt to the ride.

Scores of disappointed bikers have expressed indignation at the end of their long-awaited ride and many formed groups which moved back to the original positions they held early this morning as they gathered to start the rally.

Scuffles broke out when Greek Cypriot protesters were confronted with Turkish Cypriots and Turks in the buffer zone, who were waving large wooden sticks and iron rods.

Trouble at different spots erupted between stone-hurling youngsters from both sides.

After the killing of a Greek Cypriot, protesters abandoned the area near Dherynia village and relative calmness was returning to the area.


[15] Turkey responsible for killing, says Euro Socialist leader

Nicosia, Aug 13 (CNA) -- Pauline Green, leader of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, holds Turkey responsible for Sunday's brutal murder of a Greek Cypriot demonstrator during clashes in the UN controlled buffer zone and wants to see justice administered.

But she stops short of actually naming Turkey.

She also believes that the continuing division of the island ''evokes the passions which led to this death.''

''The vicious murder of this young man is the responsibility of those who invaded and occupied the north of Cyprus 22 years ago,'' Green said in a statement, issued in Brussels today.

It is their insistence on maintaining division rather than seeking consensus, which evokes the passions which led to this death, she added.

The Euro MP said ''nothing can justify the fearful attack which resulted in this death'' and expressed the hope that those responsible, are brought to justice with ''all speed and urge all responsible authorities to combine in securing justice''.

Green has already demanded a full debate in the European Parliament in September on relations between the EU and Turkey, the statement said.

Green is also critical of European bikers who participated in the ride from Berlin to Cyprus, and noted that ''it is deeply disturbing that bikers from outside Cyprus should ride in promising to take on the Turks and ride out leaving a local man who rallied to their call - dead.''

She also said she is making direct contact with the Cyprus government and the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus before making any further statement.


[16] Demonstrator died of multiple head injuries, says coroner

Larnaca, Aug 13 (CNA) -- Tasos Isaac, savagely beaten to death by Turks in the UN controlled buffer zone, died of multiple head injuries, coroner Petros Vanezis said here today.

Speaking after a post mortem, which lasted nearly five hours, Vanezis, who flew in from London to carry out the autopsy, said ''the man must have died two or three minutes after the multiple injuries he received, most of which were on the head.''

Isaac's brutal murder was filmed by television networks covering an anti-occupation rally on Sunday in Dherynia village, on the eastern coast, and the circumstances of his death are witnessed on photographic material.

Vanezis said the 24-year-old did not have any injuries from bullets or beatings by stones.

The coroner said he had ''very rarely'' seen such horrific injuries.

He said forensic tests would be carried out before he issues his final report, which will be handed to the Attorney General.

Isaac will be buried Wednesday morning at the state's expense.

Today friends of the murdered man laid wreaths near the spot of his death.



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