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A protest in Cyprus against government measures forcing all citizens to present a Chinese coronavirus “vaccine pass” to enter nearly all public spaces on the island turned violent this weekend after some participants attacked a local TV station that supported the state-mandated badges.

Many Cypriots have branded the badges “Slave Passes,” the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) reported Monday.

“A large crowd of demonstrators against new Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] measures and mandatory vaccination attacked the Cypriot TV station Sigma TV on 18 July,” EFJ reported on July 19. “The mob vandalised the station’s headquarters in Nicosia, throwing [fire] crackers, breaking windows and damaging cars outside the building.”

“On Sunday evening, demonstrations against mandatory vaccination took place outside the Presidential Palace in the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia,” EFJ detailed. “Groups of protestors clashed with police and at around 9:30 PM local time, parts of the demonstration broke into the DIAS media group building that houses Sigma TV.”

“The mob attacked staff, set cars in the parking lot on fire and brutally trashed the offices,” according to EFJ, which noted the group consisted of about 2,500 people.

“Five people were arrested and police were looking for another 10 suspects filmed by CCTV cameras after the violence which followed a rally by some 5,000 protesters outside the presidential palace,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on July 19.

“Some demonstrators had carried signs that lashed out at public health measures and labelled the government’s ‘Covid SafePass’ a ‘Slave Pass,’” AFP revealed.

“Another protest banner read: ‘My body, my choice — This is about Tyranny vs Freedom,’” according to the French news agency.

“Sigma TV has been outspoken against anti-vaccination campaigners, and the station has been targeted in previous protests against anti-coronavirus measures,” AFP noted Monday.

The government of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island nation, implemented a measure on July 9 requiring all citizens of the island age 12 and older “to possess and present” a Chinese coronavirus vaccine certificate issued by the Cypriot government as a prerequisite for entry into a workplace, restaurant, bar, supermarket, mall, or other business.

The so-called “Covid SafePass” must show that the holder has received at least one dose of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine “including completion of a three-week post-vaccination period” or proof that a person has contracted the disease within the last six months. The “Safe Pass” system requires people who have not been vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus to present a negative test result for the virus issued within 72 hours before entering the aforementioned spaces.

“In addition, the provision of free rapid antigen tests will be abolished as of August 1 in an effort to exert pressure on unvaccinated citizens either to get vaccinated or pay for a PCR [Polymerase Chain Reaction] or rapid test every 72 hours,” German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported of Cyprus’s coronavirus policy on July 13.

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