Armed Turkish soldiers caught on video harassing a Greek Cypriot farmer in the village of Denia in the buffer zone were reportedly under investigation on Monday by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
Christakis Panayiotou, a community leader, said that the incident occurred around 6:15 pm on Monday, when a thirty-year-old animal farmer was herding his sheep about five hundred meters inside the buffer zone.
“Six soldiers from the north came down from their posts with their guns and approached the farmer, asking him to leave the area,” Panayiotou said, adding that one of them loaded his gun.
A video recording taken by another farmer shows a soldier taking a rock from the ground and throwing it towards the farmer capturing the recording.
“They shouted at him and threw stones at him and finally chased him away,” Panayiotou said.
Panayiotou further added that at the time of the incident, there were no UNFICYP peacekeepers in the area, but he contacted the foreign ministry, the national guard, and the United Nations over the issue.
Aleem Siddique, UNFICYP chief of communications and spokesman, said the peacekeeping force is investigating the incident. “We need to complete the investigation before we can come to any conclusions,” he said.
He added that the safety of civilians inside the buffer zone remains the highest priority for the peacekeeping force.
Turkish soldiers known to often harass farmers in Buffer Zone
According to Panayiotou, similar incidents involving harassment of Greek Cypriot farmers often take place in Denia in the buffer zone.
He revealed an incident on February 8, 2022 when he claimed five Turkish soldiers threatened farmers working near Denia. One of the soldiers threatened to kill a farmer if he did not leave the area.
In pictures captured by one of the farmers at the time, there are four soldiers from the north and at least two are armed. Panayiotou told reporters, “They told the farmer…‘I will kill you if you don’t leave’ and pointed to a box of ammo with more bullets.”
Further incidents occurred in the area in 2022.