Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Curious Burglary

Early in the Evening

of Tuesday, 16 August, something happened that caused us immense shock, incalculable loss and damages, plus political, financial and emotional trauma from which it will be very difficult for us to recover:
an illegal entry into one of our family homes and theft of three computers.

The incident took place in one of our homes where members of the Editorial Collective of Cyprus IndyMedia live and work communally with our families. It’s a house that for more than a year now has been continuously used for work and meetings of the volunteers and supporters of the organization.

The violation of our family sanctuary by unknown persons has the appearance of "common crime". In other words it looks like a simple burglary aimed only at theft. We don’t yet have any proof to the opposite.

But all of our colleagues and comrades in the struggle, as well as relatives and friends, upon being informed about the crime have immediately advised us that this can be nothing other than an action of the illegal arm of the state. Even people who learned of it from others took the initiative to contact and counsel us that, really, the incident can only be interpreted as an illegal action of the ruling party.

We add to this the knowledge that Cyprus is a very safe country with extremely low rates of crime. Even the concept of “random crime” is almost unknown here on the island. International crime statistics testify to that [1].

And it’s true that our organization has been targeted for many years now by the regime and its supporters. There have been all kinds of illegitimate and "legitimate" persecution of our members, allies and supporters through violence, direct and indirect threats, and all sorts of abuse [2]. We are still reeling from the fact that a well-known stalinist supporter of the Government in a public speech last year declared that the power of the "State is not sufficient" to deal with us, and called for the formation of an extra-judicial, para-state, power to crush us. His speech is published here:
http://nekatomata.blogspot.com/2010/12/2009-2010.html
And now, since the explosion at Zygi that killed 13 people and has mobilized the population in unprecedented numbers against the regime, members of Cyprus Indymedia have been very prominently again on the front lines [3]. There have been daily protests at the Presidential Palace as well as in other towns across the country, and the regime has responded with an incredible array of tactics: brutal violence against totally peaceful crowds; slander and defamation on a daily basis from its official and unofficial mouthpieces; illegal arrests; efforts to intimidate witnesses and destruction of evidence; forging of documents; threats to public employees to stop expressing themselves; illegal threats from Police to individual citizens; telephone harassment by Police, and many others. The newspapers have been full of documented incidents of private terror taking place in the backrooms where officials have “friendly chats” with mobilized citizens “advising” them to step back from the public dialogue and protests.

Obviously, during this conflict the ruling party has mobilized its "legal" and illegal forces for all sorts of anomy. In this climate, any form of state-sponsored illegal action against us again is very possible.

But we never thought they would take the risk to enter our homes. It’s well known in the community that our communal family includes under-age children who live with us. We are duty bound to their protection by all that is sacred. If a violation of our family sanctuary - an illegal entry - occurs in front of our eyes, there would be no other choice for us: if we have the ability to react, it is not going to be dealt with by mild and polite measures. It will be a clash to the death. What enabled the perpetrators to take such a terrible gamble on a possibly lethal conflict with members of our family?

Evidence and the Police Investigation

A lot of circumstantial evidence points to the "unique particularities" of the incident. We are aware that circumstantial evidence has no bearing on the Police investigation of the crime. Nor will it help in the conviction of any suspects in the unlikely event of arrests, charges and Court trials - nevertheless it speaks volumes:
1. The house had been open and unlocked throughout the entire year. This particular night was the only time we closed and locked up everything except one window which is visible from only one spot on the street, from a very narrow observation angle.

2. We were away for only 2 hours very early in the evening, around sundown.

3. Throughout the year the house was guarded by a loud-voiced, humongous and dedicated dog. On that night, he happened to be away (which is why we closed up the house). Was it a coincidence? Did it just so happen that some criminals were passing by on that evening at sundown and simply seized the opportunity? How did they know that the dog was absent and that they would find no one in the house?

4. The Police told us that, judging by the assumed point of illegal entry of the perpetrators (the window), it would not be possible to lift fingerprints due to the type of surface and the presence of dust.

5. The burglars stole three of the five computers we had in our home office. They ignored the most expensive and newest computer. (Could it be because it had "girly" decoration?) They also ignored another computer which was not in use and was ready to be packed up.

6. The burglars stole the only three computers that were already plugged in and turned on. In other words they invested time to turn them off, unplug headphones and accessory devices that were attached, wind up the wires and pack them up. They searched through the house to find the carrying cases, which they also took. They ignored TVs, tape recorders, speakers, DVD players, musical instruments, works of art, mobile phones, bicycles, and jewelry that were all in the house, even though they opened up and saw the places where all these items were kept.

7. The computers that were taken belong to three members of our Editorial Collective who, it is publicly known, shoulder a large part of the technical, political and editorial work of the organization. They belong to Solon Antartis, Sue Scandale, and Petros Evdokas.

8. The perpetrators did not strike at any of the visibly very rich households in our neighborhood that are decked out with swimming pools and expensive luxury cars which have stood empty for weeks as the occupants were on vacation. They only struck at our own obviously poor house, with its cracked marble window sills and the black flag of mourning for our 13 dead. What kind of burglars enter a house with the black sheets of mourning posted at the entrance?

9. How did they know they would have enough time at their disposal to safely choose and separate the items they wanted to steal from those they didn’t want? To wander around the house without a worry that we might return home at any moment? Did they know where we were? Did they have the assurance of a guaranteed warning from someone in case we started to head for home?
Our friends and supporters (among whom are prominent lawyers, members of the police, and military) who analyzed the crime say that this raid would have been possible in such a short time only if we and our house were under surveillance.

The Police with whom we discussed the subject were very polite, understanding and supportive about our losses. We are truly grateful for their timely arrival, their on-site investigation, and their patience with us during the taking of our statements. But they could not register the idea that we or the house might have been under surveillance (those things don't happen in our country anyway).
The electronic material that was stolen, in other words our files and projects, are of incalculable value. We used those computers for our work in politics, in healthcare work, and for personal needs. On the computers we have (...we had!) files of articles and research covering a period of over 10 years, and archives from 15 years ago. There was one book that was in the works for 20 years, and another one for 10 years. The email addresses of friends, supporters and relatives. Photographs of loved ones and of beloved places.

The important thing is there was no violation of the confidentiality of any person who is related to us because we never maintain such files. We don't use the computers to keep any data related to the safety, security, health or personal life of anyone. But for us the loss remains bewildering.
So, was this an action of the illegal arm of the regime? A "crime of opportunity", or an expression of the covert Party-State apparatus? As our friend Giorgos R. says: "It's your call".

Editorial Collective,
Cyprus IndyMedia
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A video interview on the incident by Grothia TV - hellenic language (sorry, no subtitles).
ΚΑΤΑΓΓΕΛΙΑ: Περίεργη διάρρηξη του Cyprus Indymedia
http://www.vimeo.com/28102674

An excellent article in the hellenic language published by the progressive activist magazine Efylakas (Vanguard), that places the burglary of our home in the context of other recent State-sponsored actions of intimidation and illegality:
Παράνομη είσοδος σε σπίτι ακτιβιστών και κλοπή ηλεκτρονικών υπολογιστών
http://www.efylakas.com/archives/9363

Notes
[1]. Relevant Crime Reports on Cyprus
Cyprus 2011 Crime and Safety Report
United States Department of State
Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) / Bureau of Diplomatic Security
“Cyprus is generally safer in terms of violent crime than European countries of a similar size...
Rates of street crimes, such as pick-pocketing, purse snatchings, and other crimes of opportunity, appear to remain steady. Police have reported a significant increase in theft from unattended vehicles when valuables are left in plain sight. The number of opportunistic crimes such as vehicle break-ins, theft, and burglary that do take place are likely to coincide with the peak summer months of the tourist season when many houses are vacant, or on and close to holidays...”
http://tinyurl.com/osac-cypruscrime

[alternative link to this document:
http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:c5Wg6Sr9HJAJ:https://www.osac.gov/Pages/ContentReportPDF.aspx%3Fcid%3D10604+%2Bburglary+%22per+capita%22+%2Bcyprus&hl=en&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESh196UZezS07wKrNMYdNuvU25op0_iUdvqp4NzNY5SiOQ2QAok0HzIUQ09qkZkAySkACXdmq1AAKa6g8G_gHOph-eK7wWdrWR6KrSc9RDLcn8hbCEz_C50uxMp7wnIVVkyVCDR5&sig=AHIEtbQSS_ZHDQHHbOKoor9q040OzDgapQ ]

A very easy to follow graphic depiction:
Current Worldwide Homicide/Murder Rate
http://chartsbin.com/view/1454

Here Cyprus is ranked 42nd best out of 120 country groups:
Murder Rate (Intentional Homicides) - Country Rankings
http://www.photius.com/rankings/murder_rate_of_countries_2000-2004.html

Here Cyprus is ranked 32nd worst out of 88 countries (where number 1 is the country with the most crime):
Burglaries (most recent) by country
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_bur-crime-burglaries
[2]. Our Collective has endured various forms of State-sponsored targeting:
Government Admits Investigation Against Indymedia and Petros Evdokas Initiated by US Intelligence
http://www.indymedia.org/pt/2004/07/111547.shtml

Two Members of Cyprus IndyMedia Assaulted
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2011/02/two-members-of-cyprus-indymedia.html

There have even been efforts from within, attempts to utilize the network of global IndyMedia against us:
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2011/01/cyprus-indymedia-collective-responds-to.html
and:
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2011/01/another-collective-response-by-cyprus.html

Θρασύδειλη Επίθεση Τραμπούκων
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2011/02/blog-post_3686.html

Ημερίδα της Αντιφασιστικής Πρωτοβουλίας ~ Τοξικό Σεξουαλικό Παρασκήνιο
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_20.html

Κάτω η Χούντα του Χριστόφια ~ Τι ακριβώς έγινε στο Προεδρικό
Καυτές Αλήθειες γιά τα Επισόδεια της Τρίτης
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-post_5114.html

Ο Κύριος Διευθυντής
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2009/12/blog-post_09.html

Τρείς Άξονες του Μίσους ~ Τι Επιδιώκουμε;
Νέα εκστρατεία δυσφήμισης, προπαγάνδας και στοχοθέτησης
http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2010/11/blog-post_20.html
[3].
During this recent period, our members have been active and highly visible in the demonstrations taking place happening nightly outside the Presidential Palace, as well as in other towns across the country. These crowds have been named by the media as “the Enraged”, or “the Awakened".

There have been gatherings of up to 15,000 on some nights. The protests began on July 11, when 13 people were killed at the Zygi military base due to criminal negligence of the Government; those at the highest levels are refusing to take responsibility. The protests are much more beyond just memorials of mourning for the dead. The people gather also to express their anger at a government that has destroyed the country financially; is entrenched in a system of favours and favouritism; regularly practices scapegoating to protect its inner circles; and is in the process of negotiating an unpopular and fatal agreement to permanently divide the island in order to set up an Apartheid regime replete with Race Laws. The protests have united people from both the Left and the Right, and continue to this day unabated.

Here is an article from the mainstream media that captures well the mood of the country:
From apolitical to perennial protester
http://www.cyprus-mail.com/protest/apolitical-perennial-protester/20110724

[alternative address:
http://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/imc-cyprus/2011-July/0725-5o.html ]

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9 comments:

  1. "Our friends and supporters (among whom are prominent lawyers, members of the police, and military)"

    We thought so.......

    ReplyDelete
  2. When progressive and radical ideas become embraced by those who staff the security apparatus, we find therein the seed of possibility for real change.

    One part of this means that when/if large popular mobilizations for social change take place, there will be less bloodshed, less torture, less conflict.

    Our country is already progressive enough that broad ideas of social justice and deep change are accepted as normal. That is the reason that when we go to protest at the Presidential Palace, individual members of the Police come to apologize to us for being on duty that day and to confess that they would rather be on "this side" of the fence, where their friends and relatives are... protesting!

    In a small country such as ours, the regime is a creaky, rickety structure of mostly bored bureaucrats and a few goons. It does not have to be crushed and destroyed in order for social change to prevail - it is preferable to see its members and pillars awaken to their social responsibility and behave accordingly.

    Some of them do, even before times of great upheaval, and support the liberation movement in small ways. We should be thankful for that.

    Petros petros@cyprus-org.net

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree, it is time to overthrow the communist regime of Cyprus that prevents a style of western democracy to prevail in our country. Look at the communists who have friendly relations with Syria and Iran and do things that disrupt our relations with the United Nations and the European Union, not to mention that the Cuban Ambassador walks freely in the presidential palace while democratic leaders have to make an appointement.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wish it were true... but unfortunately the regime is NOT communist.

    It is a degenerate third world neo-colony fully embedded within the European Capitalist club, fully embedded within the security system of global Imperialism, and presently governed by a reactionary stalinist party that pretends to be "on the left".

    There are many layers of degeneracy to overthrow and replace. Given the present state of affairs, Communism would be a medicinal intervention.

    Petros Evdokas, petros@cyprus-org.net

    ReplyDelete
  5. Actually it is a regime that is based on alliances with non-western powers such as Russia and other countries and aimed to use communist measures such as the increase of the public sector plus enlarging the interests of pubplic employees with high salaries at the expense of the private sector. Thank god the opposition parties are resisting and as a first step public empoloyees are starting to pay for the financial crisis. Our movement, the enraged movement, does not include left wing people even though there were some of them at the beginning. I would like to thank our people from keeping them out because their aims and ours are completely opposed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am a left wing person, and I continue to be very active in the mobilizations against the stalinist President and his court of degenerates.

    Along with me there are several prominent volunteers among the protesters who shoulder various duties and responsibilities for the organizing needs of the protests.

    The protests have managed to unite people from both the Left and the Right, and more importantly, people who do NOT identify with either of these two artificially defined wings.

    Any effort to "keep out" the Left from the protests will initiate an immediate division and collapse of the united front we now maintain.

    The anonymous person posting above me has not been at the forefront of daily work meetings where all the cares and needs of the protest movement are managed and taken care of. But I continue to be there, from day one, and I can tell you that the "anti Left" message of this person is wrong.

    Unless we continue united we will be destroyed. And we'll be saddled with more years of the idiotic and corrupt governance we now have.

    Petros Evdokas, petros@cyprus-org.net

    ReplyDelete
  7. Actually I agree with both of you as long as the left wing policies of the government are no longer a reality.

    ReplyDelete
  8. There is nothing Left within the current Government except its pretensions, hypocrisy, marketing and camouflage.

    There is nothing left of the current Government except its pretensions, hypocrisy, marketing and camouflage.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with everything you said except the first one which actually produces the rest. But don't worry, we are together in the everyday work.

    ReplyDelete