Police fear Saturday’s second scheduled anti-corruption protest in old Nicosia will again be marred by violence because they have information trouble makers plan to join the activists so as to raise tension.
This is what Philenews reported on Thursday, adding that police have also clarified that last week’s clampdown which sparked widespread condemnation was not planned but rather the outcome of a riot.
At the same time, Opposition Akel leader Andros Kyprianou is meeting President Nicos Anastasiades later in the day to demand the immediate lifting of the ban on mass gatherings. The ban is part of covid-19 preventive measures.
“The ban, in the pretext of covid-19, is anti-democratic and should be lifted immediately…corruption over the past year during which Cyprus went in and out of lockdowns has shy-rocketed,” Kyprianou told state radio.
Last Saturday, several hundred people protested against corruption and restrictions on movement and businesses imposed by authorities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
With public gatherings banned, police moved to break up the demonstration, kittling demonstrators and deploying water cannon and teargas.
Several people were injured, including a 25-year-old woman who was hit by a volley of water as she held her arms up and danced in the street. She underwent emergency surgery on Monday to save her eyesight.
The violence triggered outrage across the political spectrum and calls for the justice minister, who herself described the scenes as disproportionate, to resign.
Kyprianou also said on Thursday the immediate resignation of Emily Yiolitis is a must – and not only because of Saturday’s outcome of the demonstration.
Yiolitis is under strong criticism over the way she handled a personal attack on a parody twitter account. She is accused of violating human rights with the help of police which is under her jurisdiction.
Activists argue that for the past year – as Cyprus has been going in and out of lockdown – corruption has sky-rocketed and human rights and liberties have been severely curtailed.