11th September, 2023

In Turkish prisons since the age of 17, by Aristos Michaelides “Phileleftheros” Newspaper

He was first arrested in 1991, at the age of 17, on charges of participating in a demonstration. It was a time when the PKK was active in the mountains and in the cities, a time when the Kurdish movement was united and relentless. Ocalan had succeeded in uniting Kurdish men and women and creating a strong movement, armed or not, both for Kurdish independence and for social emancipation. It was a time when the Kurdistan Workers’ Party was not on the list of terrorist organisations. The European Union only added it – foolishly – to its own list in 2004, five years after the arrest of Abdullah Ocalan.

Kenan Ayas, whois dragged through the Cypriot courts these days, was not arrested then as a member of PKK, but because he was taking part in a demonstration for Kurdish rights. Regardless, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison by the Turkish regime, together with his brother. After his release in 2003, he became politically active in the Kurdish struggle, which he continued to pursue without interruption. However, the situation in Turkey, which was supposedly conciliatory but continued to massacre the Kurds, and the fact that he was always under surveillance as a suspect for acting against the Turkish state, forced him to flee to Cyprus.

He travelled to many European cities, participated in conferences, spoke and spoke again about Kurdistan, its struggle, but also about the state of the present capitalist system, the crisis of Turkish power and much more. Being an intellectual of his time, he intervened whenever he had the opportunity to help the great struggle of Kurdish liberation. And he paid for it, because the German prosecuting authorities, acting as Turkey’s intermediaries within the EU, do not neglect to pursue Kurds, not for criminal acts, but for participation in political and cultural events, concerts, charity fundraisers.

Cyprus cannot participate in the injustice being perpetrated against the Kurdish people, even if the entire European Union is silent in the face of Turkish crimes, even if it added the Kurdistan Workers’ Party to the list of terrorist organisations because Turkey wanted it to be so. No extradition of Kenan Ayas to Germany should be negotiated, as from there he will end up in the Turkish dungeons with summary proceedings. He should not be allowed to spend a single day more in Cypriot prisons and the Cypriot judiciary should consider whether the 77 days of imprisonment of the Kurdish fighter Cherkez Korkmaz for the same reason in 2019 were worth it. Cyprus is obliged to join and support without wavering the struggle of the Kurdish nation and to do everything in its power to help the exiled Kurds who find refuge on our island. And finally, to remove the PKK from the list of terrorist organisations, so that there is not the slightest hesitation in rejecting the German/Turkish demands and to send a clear message to Ankara, a message in defence of Kurdish freedom. Which is also inextricably linked to Cypriot freedom. Kenan Ayas is also our fighter.

Today, the defense filed a motion on behalf of Kenan Ayas to dismiss the panel of three judges because they showed bias against Kenan Ayas.


The defense had no choice but to make this extraordinary request because the court showed bias against Kenan Ayas by rejecting the defense’s request. The defense had requested that the newspaper article quoting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement about Kenan Ayas’ trial be considered as evidence and read in court.


The well-known German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had summarized Erdoğan’s remarks in an article published on November 19 as follows: “The visit to the German capital had ‘opened a new chapter in our deep relations,’ Erdoğan said. He expressed his delight at a criminal trial at the Hamburg Higher Regional Court against an alleged official of the Kurdish terrorist group PKK. The man was arrested in Cyprus and extradited to Germany on the initiative of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.” (See the press release of the defense from November 30, 2023).


The court rejected the request for the second time, arguing that Erdoğan’s statement had no relation to the case of Kenan Ayas. It was the second time that the defense had asked the court to allow this article to be part of the evidence. The defense had argued that Erdoğan’s statements showed that the extradition and trial of Kenan Ayas was in the interest of Turkey and that Kenan Ayas could be in danger after his release from prison because of the known habit of the Turkish secret service to operate outside of Turkey. In regard to both motions, the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not oppose the request but supported it by stating that there was an obvious connection between the article and the trial.


Despite the statement of the prosecution, the judges showed their determination not to deal with the Turkish influence on the trial. The judges have continuously tried to keep anything out of the trial that could indicate the political nature of the extradition request for Kenan Ayas and the charges against him.


Now another chamber of the Hamburg Higher Regional Court hast to decide on the motion to dismiss the judges. Until this decision is made, the trial will continue as scheduled.



Hamburg/Frankfurt/Nicosia, February 6, 2024



Attorney Antonia von der Behrens, Berlin

Attorney Stephan Kuhn, Frankfurt am Main

Attorney Efstathios C. Efstathiou, Nicosia, Cyprus


The FAZ article “Return to Turkey: Erdoğan calls Scholz the ‘other'” from November 19, 2023 can be found here: