Young Cypriots: 100 days before conscription

Mar. 29, 2018, Limassol, Cyprus

Young Cypriots are celebrating the upcoming conscription. Or protesting it — hard to say. The only thing clear is that they’re putting a lot of efforts to be heard and seen: flares, petards, smoke bombs… And motorcycles.

The military service in the Cypriot National Guard is mandatory and inevitable for all male citizens from 18 to 50 years old. Or for those who are looking for citizenship in the Republic of Cyprus and fits the same age range.

Citizens turn into reservists after 14 months of service who then “called up several times a year, for 1 or 2 days at a time, each year until the age of 55” — Wikipedia says.

Could it be a reason to protest or to celebrate a growing up milestone? Either, I guess.

Not that aggressive how it looks

Any adequate person will tend to avoid a such crowd of bikers armed with flares and petards. Especially when the reason of the event is not clear.

This mess really looks a bit dangerous and reminds a riot of aggressive football fans, but actually it is not. No offense or any signs of aggression, only lots of people, smoke, flares and noise.

You can see a guy holding a fire extinguisher in his hands. Safety.

I was pretty nervous about getting really close with a camera until I’ve talked to a couple of guys observing this from aside, but definitely planning to join according to a bunch of flares in their hands. One of them just said:

— We will go to the army in 100 days, bro.

Another one sitting on a moped said that “This is a tradition, it happens every year” and asked me not to take photos of him.

They were more scared and sad than aggressive.

Get on a bike, make it loud

Motorbikes and mopeds are definitely a critical part of this event. And, as it looks like—of the whole culture among youth of Cyprus.

The bikes they ride are very different. From big and powerful cross bikes to this mini scooters, mopeds and “underbones”.

But their common feature is how loud they are! Especially the smaller ones—unbearably loud! If you swear when bikers are passing by your home with these “upgraded”, loudly farting mufflers you will cry hearing these.

But, in general, it is not a bike parade—people just come on what they have. Bikes are popular over here. The same way as pickup trucks and ATVs.

I’d bet if it happens 20 years ago there will be guys on horseback.


P.S.

In some talks after this shoot I’ve noticed an apparent, biased condemnation—people say “they are marginals, create nothing besides noise, waste time and disturb others”. I felt like I was condemned together with them for the material I show with pure curiosity and excitement.

I can’t support a such position—to judge whether it is “bad” or “good”. I can’t really evaluate such things this way and wouldn’t recommend you to do so. This exists and happens. Because of us, you all and decision we all have made. These people, youth live in their moment of life, within circumstances designed by us, they are part of the society we build altogether.

It is clear they have something to say and want to be noticed, whatever the reason they’ve come here: to have a criminal-like fun because there’s a lack of “legal”, to shout out and raise a flag that they have no alternatives for the future, to finally celebrate not their choice.


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