Monthly Archives: March 2012

Community Media calls for greater racial representation in the media

antiracismcampaign(Nicosia, 20/03/12): On the occasion of the European-wide Action Week Against Racism (17-25 March) and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) is calling for greater diversity of voices in the mainstream media. CCMC believes that diversity and media pluralism not only give citizens access to a wider variety of quality programmes but also reflect the cultural, social and political realities of society and can improve our understanding of other communities. Lack of diversity in racial representation in the media can negatively impact upon social issues such as lack of acceptance, intolerance and disunity.

The Cyprus Community Media Declaration (November 2011), endorsed by the Community Media Forum Europe which represents 18 European countries, calls for an enabling environment for community media on the island and for the relevant authorities to ‘recognise Community Media as a distinct sector, operating in a pluralistic media landscape’. Greater media pluralism and representation of diverse voices can play a vital role in combating racial discrimination.

The theme of this year’s Day is ‘racism and conflict’ and serves as a stark reminder of the way in which racism has been used as a weapon of warfare to engender hatred and fear. Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has issued his annual address to mark the Day, saying:

“Racism thrives on ignorance, prejudice and stereotypes. Where societies have been shattered by conflict, the United Nations strives to promote peace processes and peacebuilding that foster inclusion, dialogue, reconciliation and human rights. Uprooting racism and prejudice is essential for many war-torn societies to heal.”

CCMC hopes this week of initiatives by civil society around the world will once again highlight the way in which racism continues to be pernicious in many walks of life. The media, including community media, must do more to ensure diverse voices are heard and reflect the true make-up of our multicultural and intercultural societies.

About the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is marked every year on 21 March. The day was established by The General Assembly of the United Nations in 1966 following the brutal murder of 69 protestors in the South African township of Sharpeville in 1960. Every year around 21 March, the UNITED network coordinates the European-wide Action Week Against Racism and calls upon the international community, NGOs and individuals to bring an end to racism, discrimination and intolerance through direct action. 

For more information about the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, click here and here.

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Losing or Saving Karpas?

This article was first published on page 15 of The Cyprus Weekly (2 March).

The Karpas Peninsula is one of Cyprus’ natural beauties. Since 1974 the region is mostly remembered as the last bastion of the Greek Cypriot enclaved persons. It fleetingly receives attention for other reasons too. In recent weeks, the media focus has been on Archbishop Chrysostomos’ renewed interest in the restoration of the Apostolos Andreas Monastery. However, one of the effects of the division is that while publicity generated by a public figure sheds light on one aspect of life, it tends to overshadow other issues of equally vital importance.

In recent months plans were announced for the building of a large petroleum storage station on the unspoiled shoreline close to the village of Efta Komi. A successful campaign by civil society, led the Lefke Environmental Society had averted the building of the station near the village of Lefka in August of last year. However, the Swiss-backed investment project identified Karpas as the next ideal location, and the area has been declared a so-called “Free Zone”, allowing the construction company unrestricted access to the area.

The plans for the petroleum terminal carry great risks not only for the island’s biodiversity but for the entire eastern Mediterranean, both in the short and long-term. Large areas of the Peninsula are classified as protected zones, and form part of the European Natura 2000-Network. A number of species are under threat should plans go ahead, including endemic birds such as the Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus wheatear, as well as peregrine falcons and alpine swifts.

In this vacuum of legality and accountability, civil society has stood up to the task. A coalition of Turkish Cypriot non-governmental organisations (NGOs), spearheaded by the Green Action Group and the Biologists’ Association, has started an awareness-raising campaign aimed at sensitising Cypriots about the disastrous effects that the building of this station will have for the island and the region. “What will be the impact of a leak or an explosion at the station?”, asks Salih Gücel, a member of the Biologists’ Association. “No one can answer this. This area is prone to strong winds and currents. The whole of the northern coastline of Cyprus, and the wider eastern Mediterranean region, could be affected by a leak or explosion at the plant.”

The area is also a nesting place for Cyprus Green turtles, and the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), once declared extinct by the Fisheries Department, is also at great risk. “Research has shown that in recent years the seals have been breeding on the shores of Cyprus”, says Osman Kalfaoğlu, a journalist who has been following the issue. “Aside from all its other disastrous effects, the building of the station would destroy the few remaining breeding places for the seals, laying the ground for their extinction”, added Kalfaoğlu.

On an island still divided, civil society has emerged as the most important vehicle through which to convey the concerns and issues which affect all Cypriots.

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