With ambiguities, legalisms and communication gimmicks, the Cypriot government seeks to obscure the landscape and to bend the objections and reactions of the Cypriot society, in relation to the decision of the Cypriot judiciary to extradite the Kurdish political refugee and freedom fighter Kenan Ayas to Germany.
On Tuesday 16/5, amidst an unprecedented government silence, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Kurd’s appeal and, according to media reports, pointed out the correctness of the decision of the first instance court, accepting the German documents on his membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and therefore, the position that it is a terrorist organisation. This is despite the defendant’s non-admission to the charges and the lack of evidence of criminal acts. Now, the support of Ayas will file a new appeal to the ECHR, and has filed a request for an extension to the extradition procedure, which was set within ten days from the date of the judgment, with him being detained in the Central Prison.
The Cypriot judiciary, according to the Supreme Court’s decision and despite what legal and political circles who sided with Agias claimed, did not identify reasons for not executing European Arrest Warrant, arguing that it is not a question of exercising discretion, but of the Republic of Cyprus complying with its obligations as an EU Member State. At the same time, he denied the defence’s position that there was a reasonable risk of his subsequent extradition to Turkey by Germany, referring to “theories”, insisting that the German courts will acquiesce to the decision of the Larnaca District Court, as the Kurd will serve any sentence imposed on him in Cyprus.
In short, he effortlessly accepted the Turkish-German collusion against the Kurds, putting the Republic of Cyprus in the chariot of the Euro-Eastern frenzy against the Kurds fighting for freedom, as a means of winning over the occupying country. Thus paving the way for new renditions of Kurds, who thought they had found a safe haven in semi-occupied Cyprus. Justice Minister Anna Koukidou Prokopiou, in statements after the decision, argued that Agias was not being extradited as a political prisoner but for criminal offences. That is, as a common criminal. However, she refrained from disclosing these offences, setting as the sole criterion for the defence of her claims the previous life of the President of the Republic and of Germany. She also criticised those who see a political background behind this decision, presenting them in part as conspiracy theorists.
There was of course an attempt to intimidate those Kurds and Cypriot solidarity activists who demanded that the Kurdish intellectuals not be extradited. The three arrests of Kurdish hunger strikers, including the defendant’s brother, who were outside the Court at the beginning of the trial, and it was deemed necessary for Kenan Ayas to be kept under arrest during the proceedings, are typical. And when he went on hunger strike, the prison management acted vindictively by imposing disciplinary punishment on him. In celebration, the Presidential Office let it be known that President Nicos Christodoulides will raise the issue with the German Chancellor during his visit to the country. One can reasonably wonder what the purpose of this ill-timed intervention is, when the government itself has declared that it cannot interfere in the decisions of the Cypriot judiciary, let alone the German judiciary.
Typical are the statements of the socialist MP Kostis Efstathiou, in a written reply to the Minister of Justice, who argued that the latter could, in cooperation with the Attorney General, take a position on the political issue of the Kurdish struggle and trigger the decision not to prosecute Kenan Agias in Cyprus for the offence of “terrorism”, on the basis of Art. 14 (1) (b) of the Law (the offence of “terrorism” can also be prosecuted in Cyprus). This would create a ground for non-enforcement of the ECA by the Courts. Instead, he continued, the Ministry, identifying with the Turkish and German narrative, argued before the Court that Kenan Agas is a terrorist, the PKK is a terrorist organization and the Kurdish Struggle is a terrorist.
Other legal circles say that Germany did not provide absolute assurances that Kurdish will not be extradited to Turkey, as well as ignoring the precedent of not extraditing the also Kurdish militant Cherkez Korkmaz in 2019 on a similar warrant from German authorities. It is also outrageous that the Republic of Cyprus continues to disagree with European decisions that place the PKK as a terrorist organization, which demonstrates clear political responsibilities.
The Kurdish fighter’s RESPONSE, a sign of pride and solidarity, is a new wound to the servile Cypriot establishment: “Freedom for Kurdistan, Freedom for Cyprus”. On the positive side, the Cypriot public opinion seemed to maintain good reflexes, while some members of AKEL, the Ecologues, the outgoing MP of the Greek Democratic Party of Cyprus Kostis Efstathiou, as well as patriotic, anarchist and leftist groups, stood by the Kurd.