Kurdish activist Kenan Ayaz started an indefinite hunger strike on Thursday, following his arrest in Cyprus upon a demand by Germany, where he could face extradition to Turkey.
“I cannot remain silent as my freedom is taken away in an unjust and inhumane manner. The threat remains severe and concrete, and as such, I am going on an indefinite hunger strike on 4 May 2023 until my demands are met, to draw attention to the injustice in the extradition order and to express my disavowal,” Kurdish news agency ANF cited Ayaz as saying.
The activist’s family was not allowed to meet with him on Friday when they went to the Nicosia prison he is currently held at. “Cyprus is not only complying with the demands of the fascist Turkish state, but also becoming a partner to its fascistic practices,” a small group of Kurdish activists said in a statement outside the prison.
Ayaz was granted asylum in Cyprus more than a decade ago, and was first arrested in March in the Mediterranean country upon terrorism charges brought against him in Germany. His family and lawyers believe Turkey to have influenced the charges. After his arrest in the Larnaca Airport on his way to Sweden, a local court ruled for his extradition to Germany, with the condition that he be deported to Turkey from there.
On Thursday, Kurds and Cypriots in Nicosia held a demonstration calling for Ayaz’s release. Cypriot politicians, including Greens Chairman George Perdikis and former interior minister Neoklis Svlikiotis, joined the protest.
The Switzerland Democratic Kurdish Council (CDK-S) met with the Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the UN on Thursday, and held a demonstration in front of the UN headquarters on Friday in solidarity with Ayaz.
“Germany has prioritised its commercial relations with Turkey and joined its hostile approach to Kurds,” CDK-S Co-chair Selma Sürer said in the demonstration. “Germany continues to jail dozens of our friends in an effort to terrorise Kurdish politics in partnership with Turkey.”
The first hearing for Ayaz’s appeal will be held on 9 May, and the higher court will issue its ruling on 16 May.
“This is a political case, and unfortunately it was not treated as such by the judge. His omission was that he didn’t examine whether this prosecution the European arrest warrant is based on was issued to persecute Mr Ayaz due to his political opinion and background,” Ayaz’s lawyer from the Efstathios C. Efstathiou law office told Erem Kansoy from Medya Haber TV.
The court’s ruling “sends a wrong message to the world that Cyprus, as a country occupied by Turkey since 1974, is serving Turkey’s narrative that poses everyone related to the Kurdish struggle for freedom, human rights and democracy is a terrorist”, the lawyer added.