This year marks the 51st anniversary of the establishment of the “Green Line” along the historic centre of Nicosia, a result of the bi-communal conflicts of 1963. This line is not only a symbol of the ethnic conflict and the division of the island into separate zones; it reflects the role of the British and the presence of the UN multinational army between the clashing ethnic troops; it refers also to the military coup of the Greek Junta and the invasion of the Turkish army in 1974, the events which have shaped the current status quo.
Militarisation not only strengthens nationalist ideologies and safeguards the division of the island, but also inevitably leads to more institutional discrimination and reinforces racism, sexism and patriarchy. In this – both literally and figuratively – barbed wire of power relations, militarisation supports arms trade and increases military expenditures. At the same time, in an era of a global capitalist crisis, the public debt and national deficit are growing, whilst wages and pensions are being cut, and public expenditures on vital sectors, such as social welfare and environmental protection, are constantly reduced.
We consider these developments as a huge and continuous failure of the people of Cyprus, who adopted the nationalist narrative and militarist beliefs. By doing that, they were pushed more and more into a long-term bi-communal conflict and consequently accepted the status quo that was imposed by nationalist and imperialist forces. We have to understand that the ethnic – religious conflict and the geographical division are the perfect excuses for the rulers to maintain the same peculiar and extended ‘state of exception’. This authoritarian and oppressive regime tries to expand its power and extend its dominance to every aspect of our daily lives. Simply invoking this ‘state of exception’ is enough to suspend our labour, social, political and environmental rights, as well as suppress class struggles and mobilizations of all insubordinate parts of the society, particularly those from the lower classes and marginal groups. In this extra-ordinary but long-established ‘state of emergency’, it is not only our rights that are being violated and ours freedoms that are neglected, but even the provisions of the ‘constitutional legitimacy’ and the principles of the ‘rule of law’ of the so-called ‘liberal democracy’ are suspended.
As an antiauthoritarian group we firmly believe that the time has come for the people in Cyprus to join forces, mobilize and resist to the dominant nationalist ideologies, the escalating militarisation of our lives and the rise of far-right political parties. We are against all nationalist and imperialist armies, post-colonial military forces and alliances, as well as states’ repressing mechanisms and authoritarian institutions. Nobody should be a soldier of power elites, never and nowhere; thus, we are not surrendering our lives to any master of capital and war.
In the context of the forthcoming inter-communal protest march for a ‘De-Militarised Nicosia 2015’, which will be held on both sides of the borders dividing Nicosia on Saturday, 28th of February, Syspirosi Atakton starts a circle of events that will peak on that day. We have planned three interesting discussions in the next weeks:
1. Thrice a Stranger: Hellenism, Kemalism, Zionism – The rise of nationalist ideologies in Salonika and Eastern Mediterranean (8th January – Saffo Papantonopoulou);
2. The Rojava Revolution – Autonomy, direct democracy and radical resistance to religious fundamentalism and civil war in Kurdish communities in Syria (23rd January – Joris Leverink);
3. The conscientious objection movement in the militarized state of Israel (6th February – Sahar M. Vardi)
Eco-Polis | Working Group for Ecology and the City