By Ed Emery, originally published in effimera.org. On 19 May 2019, Italian author and political...
A 35 year old army captain in Cyprus had confessed to the police that he was responsible for the killing of five women and two girls, he also disposed of three bodies — those of a Filipino woman and a Romanian mother and daughter — in an abandoned mine. A suitcase with the remains of a woman was found at the bottom a week ago.
The search for bodies started weeks ago in a case that has shocked the eastern Mediterranean island. The police had shown their clear negligence for the migrant working women, which led to the country’s justice minister and the police chief to resign. The police have been accused of failing to properly investigate as the victims were reported missing 2½ years ago, allowing the suspect to keep killing. Several of the women were reported as missing to police.
When the state received the report of the missing migrant workers, the negligence, misogyny and racism projected upon the missing bodies surfaced, as their first response was that ‘they probably just went to the occupied zones’ (Northern Cyprus), thereby outsourcing the tragedy to the Other rather than taking the situation seriously.
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The murders are neither an isolated incident nor just the actions of a psychopath serial killer
Behind the killer is the state. That illegalises immigrant workers, driving them to informal work or deportation. That, at the same time that it sells golden passports to foreign millionaires, does not grant permanent residential status to immigrants working and living in Cyprus. That forces in this way every immigrant to live permanently in danger of becoming illegal. That creates excessive bodies that are forced into informal work, detention centers and deportation.
Behind the killer is the entire migration policy of the cypriot republic. The border controls, the monitored labour during the asylum procedure, the racist arrests, the detention centers, the “illegal” work that ensures local employers have cheap labour in slavery conditions. But also the “legal” work in a state of exemption, with lower salaries and terrible working environments, always under the fear of illegalisation.
Behind the killer is the police. That when the nursery was looking for six-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, stated that she left the country. That when the employer of Maricar Valdez Arquiola’s mother repeatedly reported her disappearance did nothing to look for her. That when other people were looking for Livia Florentina and her daughter, the response they got was “don’t you know them, they leave and go to the occupied side.” Just like the entirety of the state’s policy, for the police the lives of immigrants have no value. The fact that they ignored the 32 women missing since 1990 does not surprise us.
Behind the killer is the army. The national guard, that forces every 18-year-old to enlist under the threat of criminal persecution and social stigmatisation. Where they learn how to be a “man,” to worship the blue-and-white flag, to hate everything different, to learn how to kill. And all this under the command of permanent personnel, possibly killers, armed and in charge of the protection of the nation and educating the youth. The national guard, that like every army teaches and enforces patriarchy, sexism, racism, the means and reasons to kill.
Behind the killer are the media. That systematically promote hate speech and xenophobia. That host racist sketches on their front pages and speak of “by nature subordinate races” in their papers. That for every woman killed or subjected to violence, they selectively and pseudo-scientifically employ the insights of psychology and psychiatry to assign responsibility to isolated individuals, that for every crime incident they first mention the perpetrator’s nationality if it doesn’t happen to be cypriot.
Behind the killer are the cypriot big and small bosses, that think of immigrants as cheap and flexible labour power. That treat immigrant women like they are their slaves. That lock domestic workers in garages, that make profits trafficking women, that sexually harass or rape them, thinking that they own their bodies.
Behind the killer is a big part of cypriot society. That thinks cypriots are superior to immigrants, men are superior to women, and immigrant women are property for each and every cypriot.
Behind the murdered immigrant women are the terrible working conditions, the unpaid salaries, the withholding of travel documents to threaten deportation, the prohibition of contact with their families, the sexual violence, the fortune paid to agents for finding work. Behind them is the marginalisation, the social exclusion, the racist behaviour from state authorities, the physical violence, the arrests, the invisibility.
Behind the murdered immigrant women are the stories of other murdered immigrant women, that didn’t shock the “hospitable cypriot society.” There is the young Oxana Rantseva that came to Cyprus in 2001 with the infamous “artist” visa and 12 days later was found dead under her balcony after she tried to escape the brothel in which she was being trafficked. There is the young domestic worker, that in August 2015 was found dead under the balcony of the family that forbade her to leave the apartment, that forced her into terrible working and living conditions, after she left her previous employer who sexually harassed her. Behind the murdered immigrant women are the beaten immigrants who work 14hour shifts on our farms, the immigrants working uninsured on building sites, living without electricity and toilets, the immigrant women who are abused by the traffickers next door.
38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio, her 6-year-old daughter Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, 28-year-old Arian Palanas Lozano, 29-year-old Maricar Valtez Arquiola, 36-year-old Livia Florentina Bunea, her 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia Bunea, the seventh immigrant woman who has yet to be identified, were not killed just by a psychopath serial killer. They were murdered by patriarchy, racism, sexism, and exploitation.
We won’t get used to death
We will stand next to immigrants.
We will overcome separations with common struggles.
SOLIDARITY TO MIGRANT WOMEN & WORKERS
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antifa λευkosa pamphlet on migration:
CHEAP BODIES / FOREIGN BODIES THE GOVERNMENT STRATEGY ON MIGRATION