CYPRUS: SEEMO Urges Authorities in Northern Cyprus to Respect Journalists' Right to Freedom of Movement

CYPRUS, 15/06/2011

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), calls on the authorities in Northern Cyprus to respect the freedom of movement of journalists.

On 25 May 2011, authorities in Northern Cyprus said that Ibrahim Aziz, a journalist working for the Turkish-Cypriot newspaper Afrika, would no longer be allowed to cross the border between Northern and Southern Cyprus unless he obtained the necessary documents from the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus.

Aziz was born in the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus in the north, but his residence is in Southern Cyprus. Therefore, he has documents issued by the Republic of Cyprus. Normally, people can cross the border without problems, but Aziz cannot, according to the Press Workers Union of Northern Cyprus.

Aziz works for the newspaper Afrika, which has been the target of both official and other attacks on several occasions. As SEEMO reported, on 2 March 2011, Sener Levent, the paper's editor, received a death threat. On 25 February 2011, unknown attackers opened fire at Afrika's office door. One bullet hit the wall and the other lodged in the door. The attackers left a note warning that next time the shots would target the journalist, rather than just his office door. The perpetrators were never found.

It is not clear if these events are related, but Afrika journalists appear to be a recurring target. 

Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General commented: "Free movement of journalists has to be guaranteed and the authorities should make an additional effort in order to find those behind the attacks on Afrika."

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