Anti-Racist NGO in Cyprus Targeted in Shocking Explosive Attack – Human Rights Defenders Demand Urgent Action

NICOSIA, Cyprus – The prominent anti-racist NGO KISA (Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism) in Nicosia, Cyprus, became the target of a shocking attack when an improvised explosive device severely damaged the organization’s property. Amnesty International’s Cyprus Researcher Kondylia Gogou addressed the violent incident, expressing serious concerns about the safety of human rights defenders in the country. Gogou emphasized that racist violence is on the rise in Cyprus, and KISA and its volunteers have faced repeated threats, verbal attacks, and smear campaigns due to their work supporting refugees and migrants and denouncing hate crimes.

Gogou called on the authorities in Cyprus to send a clear message that attacks on human rights defenders and NGOs will not be tolerated. She urged for a prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the attack and emphasized the need for effective measures to protect the safety of KISA staff and activists.

The attack occurred in the early hours of January 5, causing severe damage to the premises of the NGO, including windows, photocopiers, and computers. This incident comes after years of reported threats and harassment directed towards KISA volunteers and activists from anti-migrant and nationalist groups. Despite complaints to the authorities, investigations into the threats have not yielded any known outcomes.

In recent years, racialized people, including refugees and migrants, were subjected to pogrom-like attacks in Chloraka and Limassol, and racist attacks in Limassol and Chloraka in previous years. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) found that the public discourse in Cyprus had become “increasingly xenophobic.” These incidents highlight a troubling trend of rising xenophobia and racism in the country.

KISA’s status as an NGO has also faced challenges, as it was removed from the Registry of Associations and proceedings for its dissolution were initiated in December 2020. Despite these obstacles, KISA continues to operate as a non-profit company, advocating for the rights of refugees and migrants in Cyprus.

In conclusion, the attack on KISA’s premises underscores the urgent need for authorities to address rising racist violence in Cyprus and to ensure the safety of human rights defenders and NGOs. The incidents of threats, harassment, and attacks on refugees and migrants reflect a concerning trend that warrants immediate attention and action.