10th September, 2023

Today’s shame will weigh on us for years – Cyprus in the role of “Pangalos” by Christos Petrou

In 1999, by decision of the Greek government of Kostas Simitis and in particular of the then Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangallos, the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, was handed to Turkey on a plate.

“He was hanging over all the towers, asking to land, no one would accept him, he grabbed us to save himself…”, wrote Savvopoulos about the case that still weighs on our consciences, concluding that “Look how one of us is running out of necessity in order not to be caught and we will be taken by the throat again, we are sick…”.

The same sense of shame and indignation is evoked by today’s decision of the Larnaca District Court and Judge Papathanasiou, who decided to finally extradite to Germany the Kurdish fighter Kenan Ayas.

Kenan Ayas, a political activist and intellectual, was arrested at Larnaca airport on 15 March because the Germans, in coordination with the Turks, issued an international warrant against him.

Ayas was born in 1974 in Kurdistan, which is in the territory of the Turkish state. He spent 12 years (1991 – 2003) in Turkish prisons because, as a student, he participated in demonstrations for Kurdish rights. There in Turkish prisons he lost his brother, who died in the Turkish prison, who died of torture by the Turks.

When he was released from prison, he and other Kurds founded the political organization “Group Researcher Training” which fought for Kurdish rights.

The Turks have argued and continue to argue that this organisation, like many others, is an offshoot of the PKK and therefore the participants in these organisations are automatically “terrorists” and should be prosecuted as such.

In fact, these organizations, which the Turks and their allies call “terrorist”, do nothing but articulate a politically coherent discourse on the oppression, persecution, mass killings, etc., that the Kurds are subjected to by the Turkish state.

Ayas has been persecuted by the Turkish state since 2003-2004. He arrived in Cyprus through Syria and is in our country under international protection and is recognized by the Republic of Cyprus as a political refugee.

Mr Agias is accused by the Germans of being the head of the Hamburg local organisation of the PKK, whose activities have been banned in Germany since November 1993.

But Kenan Ayas was not associated with the PKK. He was indeed organised and had a strong political activity in the Kurdish struggle, but always at a political level and not associated with organisations with armed activities.

The accusations that the Turks and Germans are making against him are therefore completely arbitrary and false.

The essence of the persecution of Ayas, like hundreds of other fighters, was and remains one: to silence by all means the voices that speak for the freedom of the Kurds and the genocidal policy of Ankara.

Today, with its shameful decision, the Larnaca District Court of Larnaca, has concluded the Turkish-German criminal persecution of the Kurdish fighters.

Judge Papathanasiou’s excuses that he made his decision on two conditions sound completely cheap. These “conditions” are

  1. a) the non-extradition of Ayas from Germany to Turkey
  2. b) the serving of any sentence decided by the German Court, in Cyprus

However, as thousands of Kurdish fighters, unlike Judge Papathanasiou, know very well due to their experience and experiences, these conditions are just empty words. The relations between Germany and Turkey are so strong that no “assurance” of a Cypriot provincial judge can overcome them. This means that if the decision of the Larnaca District Court to extradite the militant Kenan Agias is actually executed, Cyprus will be complicit in the torture of an intellectual militant, against whom there is absolutely no evidence of a criminal act, in the hands of the Germans and the Turks. Moreover, it will set a precedent for the unsafe hosting of political fighters, with all that this implies in terms of morality, credibility, etc…

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:

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/rueckkehr-in-die-tuerkei-so-sieht-erdogan-seinen-besuch-in-berlin-19324031.html