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25 January, 2021
 
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Protesters defy ban on peaceful assembly

Residents in Cypriot towns continue to duke it out with police over ban on public demonstrations

Newsroom

Harsh words against the police and a handful of arrests marred the weekend in Paphos and Limassol, after small numbers of protesters and riot police came face to face on Saturday over the right to protest in public.

According to police, five people were arrested Saturday and Sunday during operations to enforce measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, including a night curfew and an emergency ban on public protests and demonstrations.

On Saturday early evening in Limassol, around 6:30pm, a man in his early 20’s approached riot police at Dikitirio Sqaure and threw a firecracker which exploded at the front of the line, prompting officers to detain him and later discovering two more fireworks in his possession.

The mayor called on experts and government to come clean on the scientific basis for ordering Paphos under lockdown, asking how much of the decision to close down businesses might have been political

Twenty minutes later, according to an official report, another man in his 50’s started cursing at police officers, who detained him. But after the man was assisted by other protesters, who said he was only speaking aganist lockdown measures, he managed to evade capture but was arrested late at night on a court warrant.

During the incident in Limassol, protesters gathered in front of riot police, exchanging harsh words and criticism, accusing cops of "turning away from god" and "serving intersts against fellow citizens."

“Tell your master to come to Limassol if he has balls,” a woman shouted at the police, while others broke into singing the Greek national anthem.

An officer told protesters to disperse peacefully while a voice on the loudspeakers later called on the crowds to disperse saying the demonstration was unlawful.

An hour earlier, in Paphos at the town’s mayor square, a man in his early 20’s started cursing at patrol officers after they instructed a group of individuals to mask up and leave the area. After the man was detained, a second male also in his early 20’s was detained after he too started cursing at the police.

A woman in her early 40’s was also arrested after police suspected she was behind an initial post on Facebook that called on citizens in all districts to protest in public areas on Saturday at 5pm.

Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonas spoke on state radio Monday morning, saying his town overall had been in compliance with measures but raised questions after health experts appeared to be unsure as to whether Paphos needed to be in lockdown along with Limassol in the first place.

Phedonas called on health experts as well as the government to come clean on what exactly had been the scientific basis to put Paphos in lockdown and how much of the decision to close down businesses in his town might have been a political decision.

The mayor, known to many Cypriots as a whistleblower against corruption, said he was receiving dozens of complaints from businesses regarding strict measures after a health expert said during a televised interview that Paphos ought not to have been put in lockdown.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Paphos  |  Limassol  |  lockdown  |  measures  |  protests  |  peaceful assembly  |  riot police  |  coronavirus  |  pandemic

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