Turkish Cypriots protest against austerity package

SEVERAL thousand Turkish Cypriots continued ongoing protests against an Ankara-inspired austerity and privatisation package yesterday by demonstrating outside the north’s ‘parliament’. The rally accompanied a general strike by public employees.

Met by hundreds of riot police and special forces, demonstrators called for the resignation of what it calls “Ankara’s puppet government” in the north.

Unions and the ‘authorities’ have been feuding over the implementation of Ankara’s economic package since 2009. Some ‘state’ sector salaries have been cut by up to 40 per cent; further aims include cutting the number of public employees from 17,000 to 14,000 and to privatise several key ‘state’-run enterprises, such as the electricity and telecom providers.

Yesterday’s demonstration passed peacefully, apart from the police’s insistence in removing a banner draped over the front of the Afrika newspaper’s headquarters opposite ‘parliament’ which carried a message to the Turkish government’s minister in charge of Cypriot affairs Cemil Cicek. It read, “Hade Barra!”, which can be roughly translated as “Get lost!”. There was also brief panic when a firecracker was thrown into the crowd as unionists were speaking.

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