A delegation of ten members of the Unite Cyprus Now Movement is travelling to Crans-Montana to raise the profile of citizens from both sides of the divide who would like to see the island reunited. They are being sponsored by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation.
“Our actions will include a protest in all directions for international enlightenment about the isolation of Cypriot citizens who have been excluded for half a century from the dialogue in the effort to find a solution, the zero measures taken to rebuild our society, the badly designed and presented solution plans, and the people of Cyprus being hostages to nationalism,” member of the group Andreas Lordos said on Tuesday from Switzerland.
He said it was a disgrace that neither of the leaders nor any of their representatives had shown up at the protests they have held nearly every day over the past month.
“We believe that a united Cyprus will be stronger, safer and wealthier for all the communities living on the island. We refuse to hold our future hostage to our past. We know that the status quo is not sustainable and that its continuation will only lead to increased instability and tension,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.
Change can only come from the bottom up, from the ordinary people, the movement says, and they refuse to just sit back and wait for the leaders to solve everything. They know that for a solution to work the two communities must create strong bonds with each other and overcome the fear created over the past years.
“There is a fear and a lack of trust between the two communities which does not come from the youth but from an older generation which passes on this fear to the younger generations”, Turkish-Cypriot member of the initiative Natalie Hami told the Cyprus Mail
Aside from the issue of trust, a major obstacle to the co-existence between the two communities is the education system, both in the north and in the south, which Unite Cyprus Now says promotes hatred and cultivates nationalism. Education should have started cultivating the idea of peace and reunification many years ago.
“Nobody prepared the communities. There are all the NGOs and civil society organisations that could be doing an even better job, but they’re not being used to their full capacity by their government. I want to believe that we will be able to live side by side but it’s impossible to do this when there are so many young Greek Cypriots who have never met a Turkish Cypriot. So, they have this hatred inside them for no reason,” Hami said.
On Wednesday, while the two leaders meet in Switzerland, a bi-communal rally is planned at 7:30pm where people will march from the Nicosia municipality (meeting at 7pm) to the end of Ledra Street.
On Monday, a three-day photography exhibition opened at the Ledra Street/Lokmaci site of the protests in which five photographers from the two communities joined forces to produce photos of the buffer zone story.
“The green line that has kept us apart all these years is an open wound. Each one of us struck by this symbol of division and pain, has tried to approach it from a photographic point of view. It is a part of our homeland, yet inaccessible, dead, filled with memories and ghosts,” the bi-communal Unite Cyprus Now movement has said.