A rally in Hamburg on Wednesday drew attention to the trial of Kurdish activist Kenan Ayaz, extradited to Germany by Cyprus after a decade of political asylum. The event, titled “At Erdoğan’s Request,” highlighted the perceived Turkish-led persecution of Ayaz and other Kurdish activists in Europe, particularly in Germany. Speakers included Ayaz’s defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou, MP Kostis Efstathiou, journalist Alekos Michaelides and former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ahmet Yıldırım.
The Cypriot government’s decision to extradite Ayaz despite a lack of concrete evidence of terrorist activities has sparked debate. Ayaz’s supporters argue that his advocacy for Kurdish freedom does not constitute terrorism. The case has intensified with the theft of a laptop from Ayaz’s legal team in Berlin, raising suspicions of espionage, possibly linked to Turkish or German intelligence.
KenanWatch, a group supporting Ayaz, claims the incident is indeed part of an intelligence operation, highlighting the broader struggle for Kurdish rights. They call for Ayaz to be returned to Cyprus regardless of the outcome of the trial, to prevent his potential extradition to Turkey.
The German judiciary is under scrutiny for its handling of the case, in alignment with rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR has previously affirmed the curtailment of political rights for Kurds in Turkey, raising questions about the legitimacy of Ayaz’s trial.
Supporters of Ayaz argue that his activism is a legitimate protest against the long-standing denial of Kurdish rights. The Hamburg event aims not only to seek justice for Ayaz but also to spotlight the broader issue of Kurdish political rights in Turkey.