4th September, 2023

Kurdish prisoner Kenan Ayas on hunger strike, by Alekos Michaelides, “Phileleftheros” newspaper

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The Kurdish fighter Kenan Ayas, who remains in custody at the Central Prison, is going on an indefinite hunger strike from this morning, pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the appeal regarding his extradition to Germany. The 49-year-old Kurd is being prosecuted on charges of being a member of a terrorist organisation, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). On 19 April, the Larnaca District Court approved his extradition to the German authorities, while the position of his defence remains that there is no evidence against him of any criminal offence. Also, if Kenan Ayas is extradited to Germany, his life and dignity are at risk, as a successive extradition to Turkey is possible.

In a letter from prison, the Kurdish political refugee, who has been residing as such in the Republic of Cyprus since 2013, records the background of the case and underlines that this is a political prosecution that has implicated the Larnaca District Court with the fascist, occupying and colonialist Turkish state. “With its decision against me, the District Court not only chose sides, but also sided with the fascist Turkish state and what it committed in 1974 against the honourable Cypriot people,” he writes, noting that the German state is seeking his extradition in the name of the genocidal occupying Turkish state, as he stressed at every point in his defence.

In his letter, addressed to the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Minister of Justice, the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Directorate of the Central Prison, Kenan Ayas stresses that his concern is not his personal freedom, but the historical responsibility of the Supreme Court, by whose decision (16 May), the Cypriot state “will either declare itself a country against genocide or will join the fascist Turkish state and other genocidal forces that support it in its genocidal attacks against the Kurds, Armenians and other peoples, especially its own people”. In his three-page letter, Kenan Ayas stresses that the Turkish state has turned into a fascist and genocidal machine, linking the occupation of Alexandretta, the occupation of Cyprus, the invasion attacks against Rojava, the occupation of Kurdistan. In conclusion, Ayas points out his refusal to accept the threat of years of punishment, drawing attention to the injustice of his possible extradition and announcing the beginning of an indefinite hunger strike from today, 4 May. “Long live the free and democratic unity of peoples. Long live the freedom of the peoples,” concludes Kenan Ayas’ shocking letter.

Kurds and Cypriots on the streets again

In addition, Kurdish and Cypriot organisations are holding a rally in the centre of Nicosia this afternoon. The event of protest and solidarity with Kenan Agias will take place at 17:30 with the gathering point at Freedom Square and the Kurdistan Cultural Centre “Theophilos” invites all Cypriots who believe in freedom and resist the genocidal policies of Ankara to participate. A march will follow to the Central Prison to express solidarity with the Kurdish fighter Kenan Agias. 

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: