North Cyprus News - Incarcerated in Larnaca

Incarcerated in LarnacaNorth Cyprus News – Incarcerated in Larnaca

I note that NCFP advises that South Cyprus plans to ban non-EU citizens from entering their country. Well, I can attest to the fact that they have already done so, for they did it to me last December, just before Xmas.

I am Australian and therefore non-EU, but the paper they gave me the next morning claimed their reason for refusing me entry was that I had no documents to prove I was remaining in the south. But I digress…

On arrival in Larnaca and after proceeding to the immigration desk I truthfully answered the question “Where are you going?” by replying “Kyrenia”. Immediately the officer escorted me to the office of the man who said he was the commander of the Cyprus Immigration Police, Costas Nicolau (I’m not sure of the spelling). After I told him where I was heading he said that he was not going to allow me entry to Cyprus and I would have to return to Bahrain, my port of departure. I took out my camera to take his photo and was immediately grabbed by one of his officers, who shouted and abused me loudly, dragging me out of the room and pushing me roughly into a holding cell.

The room/cell was windowless and airless, with six bunks, three other detainees and a filthy bathroom. On my arrival they sent in some cleaners, but the bathroom remained filthy, with no place for clothes, no soap and a refusal to a request for towels. No one showered for the duration of our incarceration. One man from Khazakstan had been there for five days. Another, a very presentable young man from Syria, who had a good job assisting refugees in Vienna and who spoke excellent English, was trying to get to Kyrenia to spend Xmas with his mother who lived there. He too was refused entry.

The guards took a long time to answer any requests from us and other detainees in other cells, and it was 10pm that night before we received any food, half of which I paid for. They did sporadically allow us out for water and one guard brought us coffee on one occasion. The cell had had all power points removed, we were not allowed to take chargers into the cell (which wouldn’t have worked in any case) and I was not allowed to keep my medications with me. In my opinion, shared by my three cell mates, three of the guards were decent people (they were the ones who looked sheepish when I called them all uncivilised for refusing us towels) and three were third-world bullies and thugs. The procedures they all kept referring to were in my opinion uncivilised and not logical, especially the one that saw the escorting officer who took me to the plane the next day refuse to give me my passport. Apparently they must give the passports of detainees to the flight crew of their departing aircraft, and the Bahrainis took an hour and a half to return mine to me in Bahrain Airport.

So I had to use my return ticket to get back to Bahrain, and had no Xmas holiday. I had been bullied, abused, shouted at and shoved around, all because I wanted to journey into TRNC for Xmas. I sent a copy of this report to the Australian High Commissioner in Nicosia, but as no one will be surprised to discover, they said they could do nothing about what had happened.

I’ve since had advice to the effect that had I booked into a hotel in the south for a couple of days, and not volunteered the information I was heading north after that, I would have been passed into Cyprus. I may try to do that one day.

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