Kurdish activist Kenan Ayas stood before the Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, Germany on 3 November, facing charges over alleged membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a foreign terrorist group under German anti-terror law.
The trial follows Ayas’ extradition from Cyprus in June, where he sought asylum over a decade ago, amid rising German extradition requests for Kurdish activists. The broader scenario has kindled debates on Turkey’s sway over German politics.
A notable Cypriot presence marked the proceedings, including MP G. Koukouma, and Ayas’ defence lawyer, Efstathios C. Efstathiou from Nicosia, Cyprus.
Outside the court, a rally gathered in support of Ayas and the Kurdish cause, condemning the persecution of Kurds in Germany. Ayas greeted his supporters confidently as he entered court.
The prosecution, in its opening statement, accused Ayas under §129b of the German Criminal Code. The defence challenged the political nature of the trial, hinting at potential influence from Turkey. They highlighted the timing of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) against Ayas, issued close to the 2022 NATO summit in which Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged NATO states to act against Kurdish communities.
Furthermore, Ayas’ defence argued for the annulment of the administrative authorisation permitting such trials, citing its misuse against nations like Turkey that breach international law. Ayas emphasised the Kurdish struggle against Turkish aggression, noting similar ideologies driving Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus.
The Chief judge went on to dismiss concerns about inadequate Turkish interpretation, compromising Ayas’ understanding of the trial. Additionally, the court chose to withhold significant evidence from public scrutiny, sparking further unease over transparency. The Cypriot defence lawyer faced hurdles in addressing the court due to language barriers, delaying a decision on his participation.
The trial continues on 7 November.