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Media Watch 2003

07 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 7 May 2003
Journalists in solidarity protest for Sener Levent

AROUND 30 Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists yesterday marched from the Ledra Palace checkpoint into the UN-controlled buffer zone to protest against the breakaway regime’s refusal to allow Turkish Cypriot publisher Sener Levent from crossing to the south.

In a petition addressed to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, which was handed to an UNFICYP officer by the President of the Cyprus Journalists’ Union (CJU), Andreas Kannaouros, the journalists called on the UN, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe and other organisations “to make urgent and drastic representations to the Turkish government and the Denktash regime for immediate termination of the brutal hostage status of Sener Levent, respect for the freedom of press and freedom of expression in the Turkish Cypriot community, for the termination of the inhumane forcible partition and for the reunification of Cyprus and its people”.

They also expressed support to Levent’s appeal to international and European organisations to denounce the action of the Denktash regime in keeping him hostage and to demand that his freedom and personal rights as equal citizen of Cyprus should be safeguarded.

Levent, who renamed his Avrupa (Europe) newspaper to Afrika after he and two colleagues were arrested on treason charges two years ago, was refused access to the south on Monday to meet Kannaouros. Levent said he was allowed to cross last Friday without any problem but he was told he had escaped the attention of the police at the checkpoint at that time.

Protestors yesterday carried pickets with slogans such as “An end should be put to the fascist hostage status of T/C journalist Sener Levent”, “To Denktash: Respect the human rights of Sener Levent”, “Sener Levent: I am a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus and I want to move and express myself freely” “To Denktash: Respect the freedoms and rights of T/C journalists”.

Handing over the resolution, Kannaouros said: “We expect that the UN can and should do more, not only about this, but generally for terminating this forcible partition of the island and for the reunification of Cyprus and its people.”

In a message conveyed to his colleagues by Memdouh Ener, imprisoned with Levent for six months by the Turkish Cypriot regime, Levent expressed his thanks to fellow journalists and said that “the Cyprus people will never be able to be really free if we are not liberated from the occupation and Denktash.”

Kannaouros told Ener to convey to Levent his colleagues’ feelings of solidarity, underlying that “we do everything we can at home and internationally and we are determined to continue this struggle, and surely we will lead the problem to European courts and we will stand by Levent, his paper Afrika and other Turkish Cypriot journalists.”

Levent’s brother Mehmet, who was among the journalists who attended the protest, said his brother once again tried to enter the government-controlled areas yesterday, but was not allowed because he is “under detention”."