Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Media Watch 2005

28 May 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Simon Bahceli
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 28 May 2005.
Italian’s one-man hunger strike against division
"“This border is racist. That is why I am protesting against it... I am making a big sacrifice here, and all I want is a small sacrifice in return: I want [Turkish prime minister Tayyip] Erdogan symbolically to remove one soldier from the island as a gesture of peace.”"

A 60-YEAR-old Italian today enters the seventh day of a hunger strike calling for an end to the division in Cyprus.

If you have crossed the buffer zone at Ledra Palace during the past six days, you may have noticed Guiseppe Zoratti standing in no-man’s land adorned with banners calling for peace and an end to the island’s division.

You may be forgiven for thinking he was yet another piece of installation art left over from the Leaps of Faith cultural event. But this is not the case.

Known in Italy as ‘The European Walker’, Zoratti five years ago received praise from the then president of the European Commission Romano Prodi when he walked 1,500km between France, Belgium and Luxembourg to “make people reflect on the fact that wherever European integration has taken place, there has been no war for 50 years”. He has also walked extensively in the former Yugoslavia campaigning for peace.

Zoratti says he came to Cyprus nine days ago and walked from Larnaca to begin an indefinite hunger strike in protest at the existence of the artificial border that divides the two main ethnic groups on the island.

“This border is racist. That is why I am protesting against it,” Zoratti told reporters from the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

His protest hasn’t been an easy one. During his walk from Larnaca, he was attacked by dogs near Nisou. Then, when he sought to cross into the Turkish Cypriot sector for the third time, he was threatened with arrest, with police claiming he did not possess the necessary documentation. For the past six days he has stood in the buffer zone on hunger strike.

“At night I sleep in the buffer zone. I wait till the guards are not looking and then find a place to sleep in my sleeping bag. I do not eat, and I have no money,” Zoratti said.
In the six days since he arrived at the crossing point Zoratti has become a familiar sight for passers by. As we chatted, Turkish Cypriot labourers returning from work in the south greeted him with cries of “No barrier!”

“I love the EU, and I’m spreading the message of peace,” he insists, adding that he will continue his protest as long as his health holds out or until he is forced to leave by the authorities.

“I am making a big sacrifice here, and all I want is a small sacrifice in return: I want [Turkish prime minister Tayyip] Erdogan symbolically to remove one soldier from the island as a gesture of peace.”"