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May Day, May Day! – Stop the Blackmail Joins the TRNC Unions

WITHOUT PREJUDICE Oh what a night, sweet September back in 63, well that is the song that comes into my head claims, the Four Seasons version. Well in ’63 I was 18 years old, I thought I knew all the answers and life was mine for the taking. Now here we are in May 2012 having realised long ago, not only do I not know all the answers, I don’t even know all the questions. In my 67th year, a long way from the land of my birth, I was being more of a rebel than I ever was at 18.

May 1st 2012, I carried the banner and marched with pride. Of course, I did not carry the banner alone, my friend and partner in ‘crime’ Pembe carried the other end. That we stood out like a pair of sore thumbs goes without saying. Two women carrying the only banner with English writing on it, oh yes, we stood out alright just as we intended.

We first called in at the Teachers’ Union to meet up with the KTOS delegation. We travelled along with them to the assembly point near Kyrenia Gate. After a few phone calls others from Stop the Blackmail joined up with us and we were slotted into the KTOS group. I looked around for someone to carry the banner with Pembe but was told by my contact with KTOS “you can carry it”. I didn’t need telling twice. However, I was also cautioned to stay close to the Union delegation and SHOUT if I was approached.

There was a marching band somewhere in the crowd and my feet were tapping, my hips were swaying and this old lady was having a whale of a time. One of the Stop the Blackmail delegation was in a wheel chair and we were so proud to have her with us. All the victims of the Auction scheduled for 6th May were also with us. We did not miss a photo opportunity, whichever of the Pesky Pair spotted the photographer first, shouted to the other banner bearer “stop, smile, pull the banner straight”. While passing Afrika Gazetesi office, we looked up and saw all of the staff standing on the balcony so we gave them a curtsy and a wave, they recognised us and waved back. It was such a good natured event, everyone was there to make their point. Clearly there are many many Turkish Cypriots unhappy with what is happening in their country.

The police presence was very noticeable and police in full riot gear made sure the march went nowhere near the Parliament building or the Turkish Embassy. At first I tried to hide behind the banner but then I thought ‘what the hell’, I am a little old lady proud to be marching alongside the good decent hard working people of North Cyprus. I did notice lots of fellow marchers trying to read our message on the banner and indeed having it explained to them by their friends who could read and understand English. Lots of smiles and lots of thumbs up.

Imagine if you will, after the march we stood there and then we were encouraged to make our way into the centre of the crowd (our friends at KTOS). In the centre was a stage with a group of musicians playing and a dais set up with microphones. At first I felt a little out of place, emboldened by Pembe saying hold the banner high, we did just that. Of course this caused the cameras to turn from the stage and on to our banner. Now I was really getting the hang of this marching business and suggested “why don’t we get on the stage” to which Pembe replied “don’t push your luck, if we do that you will get arrested”. By now our arms were aching, a banner 2 metres by over 1 metre carried high does cause the arm muscles to protest somewhat so we agreed we should get closer to the stage and stand the banner on the floor fully stretched so that the message could still be read, and this is what we did. The crowd were good natured and helped us by moving to accommodate us.

The President of the Revolutionary Trade Unions Federation, Mr Mehmet Seyis, during his address made mention of the fact that this year the May Day march had an International flavour and welcomed the English taking part. Other speakers were very emotional and obviously found favour with the crowd, there mere many anti-Government chants coming from the crowd. The delegation from El Sen (Kib Tek) stood close to us, so I politely asked them not to disconnect the supply of electricity to Kulaksiz 5. Opposite to where we were standing stood Mr Ozkan Yorgancioglu the leader of the main opposition party, the Republican Turkish Party, and at his side Mr. Mehmet Cakici the lead of the TDP party. Since they had recognised us and smiled and nodded across several times, it seemed only polite I go shake their hand, so I did. I have had the pleasure of having met both of the gentlemen during our campaign, Mr Yorgancioglu in a private meeting and Mr. Cakici who organised a Press Conference for us. Mr Mehmet Ali Talat and Mr Boysan Boyra were also there.

Having milked the situation for every drop of publicity we could we decided to call it a day. That was when the only unpleasant event happened. A man caught both me and Chris around the shoulders and said he wanted to ask us something. He said he made TV and radio programmes and wanted to know how we felt about buying land belonging to Greek Cypriots. I did not want any unpleasantness so I simply told him, he knew nothing about us. If it turned out that the land we had been allowed to buy was Greek Cypriot owned we would either give it back or compensate them or refer them to the IPC. It never ceases to amaze me that such people a) never blame the seller, b) never blame the Government who allowed it  and c) never see the hypocrisy that the self same thing has happened to displaced Turkish Cypriots.

We left our first march, tired but quietly pleased. Let us hope the Police do not decide they want their pound of flesh today.

Never give in never give up

Name and address supplied

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