4th September, 2023

Where does the wind of freedom blow? by George Perdikis

I just got back from Central Prison. I went – with my friend Kyriakos Tsimilli – to visit the Kurdish militant Kenan Ayas, a few days before the Republic of Cyprus sends the man in iron bandages to German prisons (and possibly to Turkey).

The atmosphere full of dust and humidity. Now and then a rain falls that stains everything, people, trees, nature and objects. A thin veil of dried mud covers everything. On the radio news about the red envelopes, corruption, violence in the stadiums, fights between members of parliament, gas, etc. etc.

We are going through the usual process. Iron doors, bars and thick stone walls. Kyriakos recalls memories from 57 when as a boy he used to listen at night to the songs of the prisoners and the death row fighters of EOKA.

I again remembered my arrest and detention in a cell in the central prison in October 93, during the events of Queen Elizabeth’s visit.

They’re bringing Kenan. The reminiscence is interrupted. Despite serious health problems, he maintains high morale and loyalty. Prison does not frighten him. He has already spent twelve years in a Turkish prison.

Kyriakos and I sit on the uncomfortable bench of the visiting room in the Central Prison. Brother Ibrahim is with us, with the scars of his beating by the police still fresh. He was on the list to attend his brother’s trial but “did not comply with the instructions”. That is why he was punished with arrest, detention and beating.

Facing us, Kenan speaks passionately about the Kurdish struggle for freedom. He insists that the struggle of Kurds and Cypriots is common. He reminds us of the words of Theophilos Georgiades.

It explains to us that we are seeking a solution to the Cyprus problem in vain as long as Turkey does not abandon its expansionist policy. “Turkey’s change is judged by the success of the Kurdish struggle,” he says.

He is glad to have been given the opportunity to remind the Cypriot people of the legacy of Theofilos Georgiades and to contribute in his own way to the awakening of Cypriot public opinion.

He expects nothing from Germany. He regrets the naivety of some people who think that Germany will help to solve the Cyprus problem.

“I wish my sacrifice would help,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind going to jail so that Germany can help Cyprus to get rid of the Turkish occupation.”

But phew. We all know that won’t happen.

There is accumulated historical experience and a very rich present in German-Turkish relations that only the naive can pretend to ignore.

Hitler had copied Kemal and now Ertogan is copying Hitler.

After the fiasco of the “official leak” of President Christodoulides’ interest and the chilling effect of the Justice Minister’s official identification with the Turkish narrative, the situation in the Republic of Cyprus is back to normal. After all, “now we sing for other things, we fight for other things, for another cause” as Lizetta once sang.

Kenan Ayas is a victim of the uninspired and deadly policy of the Cypriot leadership. If it were not tragic, it would certainly be ridiculous. “Freedom in Cyprus-White in Kurdistan,” he told us, laughing after our jailer subtly nodded that the time had passed.

We saluted and walked through the steel door. We stepped out into the prison yard. Mud, clouds and dust. I really didn’t know which side of the iron door the air of freedom is blowing from.