Cyprus Mail

Kurds protest Germany’s extradition request of politician in Cyprus (Updated)

File photo: Kurds protest Germany’s extradition request of political activist (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

Members of the Kurdish cultural organisation “Theophilos” staged a demonstration in the front of the justice ministry on Monday to protest the ongoing trial of Kurdish politician Kenan Ayaz.

Ayaz, who has been living in Cyprus for 10 years as a political refugee, was arrested on March 15 at Larnaca airport on accusations of international terrorism stemming from Germany. He was about to board a flight.

Holding placards reading “Kenan is not a terrorist”, “Cyprus stop deporting Kurds” and “Freedom to Kenan Ayaz”, among others, dozens of people marched in front of the ministry’s headquarters in Nicosia.

A delegation of the organisation also met the justice ministry’s director general Louie Panayi during the demonstration.

After the meeting, a member of the delegation, Suleiman Taman, told the present journalists that Panayi gave him reassurances regarding Ayaz’s right of a fair trial.

“We know for sure that in the Republic of Cyprus the courts are independent bodies and have nothing to do with the justice ministry,” Taman said.

He then added that Ayaz’s arrest shows the political nature of the German warrant issued for his extradition, as well as the existing cooperation between Germany and Turkey.

“From the ministry’s side, we were assured that there will be no cooperation with Turkey to hand over Ayaz. The Cypriot judiciary system is independent, and Ayaz will have a fair trial,” Taman said.

The organisation also released a statement, calling the arrest politically motivated.

“Should the court approve Ayaz’s extradition request to Germany, he will likely be sent from there to Turkey, where he is set to face a very long prison sentence,” the statement said.

The organisation said Ayaz has been at the helm of pro-Kurdish marches and events in Cyprus for a long time and that he also organised several conferences and seminars on his people’s struggles.

“It is disappointing to see that once again Germany, an EU country, is actively serving the Turkish propaganda, which calls all Kurds terrorists,” the statement continued.

“The extradition request only aids the cause of Turkey, a country that does not even recognise the existence of Kurdish people.”

According to the organisation, since 2017 Turkish President Recep Erdogan has given Germany a list of almost 4,000 names his administration considers Kurdish terrorists.

“However, Germany prefers to issue arrest warrants against Kurds living elsewhere other than Germany, preferably in countries with less political weight, such as Cyprus.

“This way, it maintains a good relationship with both the rest of the EU and with Turkey, at the expense of Kurds.”

Ayaz’s trial is set to continue on Tuesday at 9am, where his extradition request from Germany will be further discussed in court.

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