‘Occupy’: we’re living the Cyprus solution

‘Occupy’ members talk about why they are frowned upon by the establishment

THE CYPRUS problem has been solved.  At least, for a small group of individuals who made the buffer zone their physical and ideological home the last five months it has.

Despite being surrounded by three armies and three sets of police, the UN included, who want them out,  a group of people of all ages, from across the island and beyond, has broken free from the chains of the perennial ‘problem’ by simply living the solution.

“For us, the Cyprus problem ended when we all met here and created this space in the buffer zone,” said Kostis, 44, a member of the Occupy Buffer Zone Movement.

Through organising events, using each person’s skills to good effect and contributions, the group has survived a very cold winter in tents in an effort to make their point.

“We’ve tried to use this space in the buffer zone to pass on messages to society, to act as a resistance to the current system and propose solutions outside the logic of capitalism, where whatever you give or take has a price attached to it,” said Andreas, 28.

Kostis added: “We’ve created an alternative model of co-existence in Cyprus. When we all met here, we didn’t know each other. Everyday life would create problems for anybody, but we tried to find ways to incorporate every difference in the space we were living. We’re putting new foundations for society.”

I can already see the more cynical among you rolling your eyes, thinking just because it works for a small group of people does not necessarily mean it can be viably transferred to society at large.

But for the Movement, this is not another utopian effort to create a better society, as demonstrators around the world are trying. This is an exercise in opening one’s eyes to the structures that have perpetuated conflict in Cyprus for decades.

And last Friday’s violent police raid against the Occupy Movement in a building straddling the buffer zone is seen as an effort to destroy what the activists, without the need for oversight from higher powers, have created so far.

“We are not the ones who disturb the peace by being here, it’s the two banana republics and their efendi (master) in the middle,” said Kostis.

“It’s not just fun and games here, it’s very serious. We declared that we have already established peace and we are living it, living the solution,” said 32-year-old Cengiz.

If you don’t like something, you create something better to render its predecessor meaningless, he argued. “What they (the police) did was to destroy what we created. They are the destructive forces, we are the creative forces. They are thanatos (death), we are eros (love).”

Cengiz said the heavy-handed police operation spearheaded by anti-terror and drugs squad officers was mainly directed against unarmed teenagers who dared to think outside the box.

“Most people beaten, humiliated, abused and kicked out of this building by police last week have been traumatised. They are 16, 17 years old and they will never forget it. We are older. We’ve seen brutality before and can digest it. For them, it’s a shock,” he said.

Referring to the many dances, talks, debates organised in the buffer zone, he said: “You can call it a political art movement if you like. The occupation of the building did not destroy anything. In fact, we built upon it. Peace is like that, you construct. It’s a process.”

The same cannot be said for ongoing talks to end the island’s division, however.

“We are here to make a point. This is not a peace process. They abuse this word. It’s a war process. Why? Because the only thing they have agreed on is to not agree. They are trying to make it impossible to establish peace on this island other than the peace they envision, which is not a real peace,” said Cengiz.

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