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.