Statement from Antifa Nicosia in relation to the serial murders of migrant women in Cyprus

The following text is a translation of their original statement in Greek that can be found here.

Solidarity with female migrant workers

The murders were neither isolated events nor simply the acts of a “psychopathic” serial killer.

Behind the murderer is the state. The state that renders female migrant workers “illegal”; driving them to work on the black market and deporting them. That sells golden passports to foreign millionaires at the same time as refusing to grant permanent residency to migrant women that live and work in Cyprus. That forces every migrant woman to live under the permanent fear of being made “illegal”. That creates surplus bodies that are led to labour on the black market, detention centres and deportation.

Behind the murderer is Cypriot immigration policy as a whole. With its border controls, regulation of employment during the process of applying for asylum, racist arrests, detention centres and the resulting creation of “illegal” employment that provides local bosses with a slave labour force. But even when the right to work “legally” is granted in exceptional circumstances, wages are lower, working conditions are deplorable and there remains the constant fear of being made “illegal”.

Behind the murderer are the Cypriot police. Who, when her kindergarten was looking for 6-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, told them that she had left the country. Who, when the employer of Maricar Valdez Arquiola’s mother repeatedly filed reports of her disappearance, did nothing to look for her. Who, when people were looking for Livia Florentina and her daughter, responded by saying: “You know what they’re like, they go to the occupied lands [Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus]. They leave and go to the occupied lands.” For the police, in line with general state policy, the lives of migrant women have no worth. The fact that they ignored 32 women going missing since 1990 doesn’t surprise us.

Behind the murderer is the national guard. The national guard, that forces every 18-year-old male to enlist under the threat of legal proceedings and social stigmatisation. That teaches them how to become “men”, how to bow to the flag, how to hate everything that is different to them and how to kill. The men responsible for their “education” are the armed men responsible for the “protection of the homeland”; (potential) murderers. The national guard, like all armies, teaches patriarchy, nationalism, sexism and racism and why and how to kill.

Behind the murderer is the mass media. That systematically promotes the rhetoric of hatred and xenophobia. That features racist cartoons on the front pages of newspapers and talks of “genetically inferior races” on the inside pages. That, in response to every femicide and act of violence, uses pseudoscience and the language of psychology and psychiatry in a selective manner in order to place the blame on isolated individuals when the perpetrator is Cypriot, while featuring the nationality of the perpetrator front and centre when he isn’t.

Behind the murderer are Cyprus’ bosses, big and small. Who see migrant women as a cheap and flexible labour force. Who treat female migrant workers like their slaves. Who lock domestic workers in garages, who make fortunes through human trafficking and who sexually harass and rape them; believing that they own their bodies.

Behind the murderer is a great part of Cypriot society. That considers Cypriots to be superior to migrants, men to be superior to women and women migrants the property of every Cypriot.

Behind the murdered migrant women are the terrible working conditions that migrants labour under, the unpaid wages, the retention of travel documents in order for employers to be able to make use of the threat of deportation, the prohibitions on communication with their families, the sexual violence, the small fortunes demanded by agents in order to find them work. Behind them is marginalisation, social exclusion, racist behaviour on the part of the authorities, physical violence, arrests and invisibility.

Behind the murdered migrant women are the stories of the other murdered migrant women, stories that didn’t shock our “hospitable Cypriot society”. There is the story of the young Oxana Rantseva who came to Cyprus in 2001 on the then-famous “artists’” visa and was found dead twelve days later on the ground underneath her balcony after trying to escape the cabaret where she had become the victim of human trafficking. There is the story of the young domestic worker who was found dead in August 2015 underneath the balcony of the apartment belonging to the family who she worked for, who forbade her to leave the apartment and forced her to live in appalling conditions. She had left her previous employer due to sexual harassment. Behind the murdered migrant women are the beaten and abused migrants who work 14-hour days on our farms; the migrants who work on our building sites without insurance and who live without electricity and toilets; the migrant women who are abused by the human traffickers who live next door to us.

38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio and her 6-year-old daughter Sierra Graze Seucalliuc; 36-year-old Livia Florentina Bunaa and her 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia Bunea; 28-year-old Arian Palanas Lozano; 29-year-old Maricar Valtez Arquiola and the seventh migrant woman – who has yet to be identified – were not simply murdered by a “psychopathic” serial killer. They were murdered by the patriarchy, by racism, sexism and the complete devaluation and exploitation of the working class.

We must not become accustomed to death.
We will stand by the side of migrant women and men.
We will overcome our differences through our common struggles.