His temporary cell is located above the “Imprisoned Tombs”, above the cells of the EOKA fighters and especially those on death row. It was the first conversation of Ibrahim’s brother as we passed through the Central Prison. Kenan repeated it in the visiting room, one of his last before he was extradited to Germany. He didn’t want to answer the Minister of Justice, preferring in the hour we had to tell us his story, the story of Kurdistan, but also his view of the Supreme Court’s decision, his concern for the next day for our peoples.
He spoke to us with intensity about Turkey’s most loyal ally in Europe, Germany, about the game in which the Cypriot leadership was involved, about Erdogan’s fascist regime, about the extermination of Kurds in Turkey and Syria. With sincere emotion he spoke to us about EOKA and its guerrillas, the Turkish invasion, but also about our common hero Theophilos Georgiades who still shows the way to the Kurds and the Cypriots. It is expected to be transferred to Germany on Thursday 25 May as a ‘gift’ from President Christodoulides to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as he states with a smile, refusing to bow down in the face of his condemnation.
Kenan, did you expect this decision from the Cypriot judiciary?
No. I came to Cyprus ten years ago, knowing its history and its struggle, the love and solidarity for the Kurdish people and I did not wait for the first instance decision of the Larnaca District Court or the rejection of the appeal by the Supreme Court. Notwithstanding the decision on my colleague Cherkez Korkmaz in 2019, whose case is similar to mine, I did not expect anything different. Cherkez was charged by Germany with membership of a terrorist organisation and offences between 2013-2015 and I was charged with offences between 2018-2020. Unfortunately, however, the final decision is a decision that legitimises Turkey’s crimes both in Cyprus and Kurdistan.
Why do you think your extradition to the German authorities was approved?
The issue is not personal, nor does it only concern my personal freedom. Turkey considers me a terrorist, like hundreds of thousands of Kurdish fighters, and Germany serves its interests. I believe that Cyprus is involved in a complex geopolitical game that starts in Israel, continues in Turkey and ends in Berlin, and of course concerns natural gas and the solution of the Cyprus problem, without knowing what arrangements were made behind the scenes. It even concerns tourism but that’s another discussion – the Kurds are not good tourists (smiling). But it is a mistake to believe, especially the dear Cypriot people, that Turkey will ever agree to a viable solution to the Cyprus problem. Erdogan’s Turkey wants all of Cyprus, just as it wants the Aegean, Syria, it wants to destroy Kurdistan, our identity, our language, and it will do anything to achieve this, as it did in 1974 with the invasion.
All this with the “excuse” of the action of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)?
The PKK has no armed activity in Europe, everyone knows that. We are persecuted for our political opinions, events, speeches, everything is on the internet. If the PKK did not exist, they would find something else to justify their persecution. Erdogan has a plan for a new Ottoman Empire and the Kurdish struggle is an obstacle. We are a people of 20 million within Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and we are fighting for the freedom of all peoples against Turkey, our common oppressor. We resisted the jihadists more vigorously than the great powers, and unfortunately no one remembers it. But they do remember attacks wrongly attributed to the PKK, such as the one in Istanbul in November 2022. Even the judge in Larnaca mentioned it, accepting the Turkish narrative. But the Kurds are not attacking ordinary citizens.
“The history of our peoples is common; our fate is common.”
You were born in 1974. Do you know the history of Cyprus well?
All Kurds know the history of Cyprus. I was born in 1974, my brother was arrested in the days of the Turkish invasion, in our homeland, MidyatMy father saved many families of Orthodox Syrians who were under persecution because of what was happening in Cyprus. The history of our peoples is common, our fate is common and the journey of the hero Theophilos Georgiades proves it. And it is one of the reasons why we love Cyprus as our second home. We fight through the ideology of Theophilos, who worked hard for the Kurdish struggle and its connection with the liberation of Cyprus. He said, “the freedom of Cyprus passes through the mountains of Kurdistan” and this is what our common struggle is based on.
Are you afraid of German prisons and possible extradition to Turkey? When are you expected to be transferred to Germany?
I am not afraid. I spent twelve years in Turkish prisons, from the age of 17 until I was 29. I draw strength from the Kurdish fighters, but also from EOKA and its guerrillas, who were also labelled “terrorists” by the British colonial forces. I take strength from the fighters against the Turks in 1974 and of course Theophilos Georgiades. Even in prison, I will never stop fighting for the freedom of Cyprus and Kurdistan. And I will see you again, in a free environment.
I am leaving on May 25, together with the President of the Republic (smiling). I will be his “gift” to the German government.
Kenan, you forced Cypriot society to mobilize to stop your extradition and you are now a symbol of Kurdish pride and dignity. What message are you sending to the Cypriot people?
I will never stop loving the Cypriot people and Cyprus as my second home. We have the right to speak our language, to protect our identity, to serve our history. The Supreme Court’s decision legitimizes Turkish crimes in Cyprus and accepts Ankara’s genocidal policy against Kurdistan. I would say to the Cypriot people to resist, to be suspicious of what is coming in the name of a so-called peace with Turkey. The only line worth following is the line of Theofilos Georgiades. Freedom in Cyprus, freedom in Kurdistan.
Turkey’s policy does not change.
If Kilincaroglu is elected, will things be better for the Kurdish people?
We don’t think anything will change if Kilincaroglu is elected. We are united, in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and in Rojava (northern Syria) and we will continue to fight for our freedom and identity. Nothing will change with Kilicaroglu, neither for the Kurds nor for the Cypriots, who must stop hoping that this Turkey will accept peace on the island. After all, Turkey itself has treated and continues to treat our peoples in the same way. It sent the greatest butchers of the Turkish army, such as Hassan Kundakci, who was involved in the murder of Solomos Solomos, after he had massacred the Kurdish population in Diyarbakir between 1993 and 1995.