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    Turkish Cypriots protest over lack of formal IDs

    Turkish Cypriots of mixed marriages protested on Saturday over what they say are inexplicable delays in gaining Cypriot citizenship.

    Campaigners say thousands of people are rendered effectively stateless because they are unable to obtain Cypriot identity cards, falling foul of the politics and conflict which tore Cyprus apart.

    “We don’t want any favours. We want our children’s rights,” said Can Azer, a lawyer and father of two children born in Cyprus.

    Its membership of the European Union allows Cypriots visa-free travel throughout the bloc, while in contrast, a breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in northern Cyprus is recognised only by Ankara.

    Families of part-Cypriot heritage living in the north say an inability to get an internationally-recognised ID card issued by Cyprus impacts their children’s prospects if they want to pursue higher education, or employment in the more prosperous south.

    About 100 Turkish Cypriots, some holding placards reading “Love Knows No Identity,” marched peacefully through the divided capital Nicosia on the Greek Cypriot side.

    In Cyprus, it is highly unusual for members of one community to protest in areas populated by the other community.

    By law, a child born on the island with at least one Cypriot parent should be conferred citizenship. But activists say a modification subsequently gave extensive powers to the interior ministry on who among those of mixed descent could get citizenship, with thousands left in limbo.

    “From a legal point of view it is a clear violation … you cannot punish children for political reasons and deprive them of their rights,” said Doros Polycarpou of the Kisa advocacy group.

    Cyprus’s interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

    “They want to belong to Cyprus,” Azer said of his children. “But right now they are made to feel they don’t belong anywhere.”

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