Friday, January 11, 2013

Three Kurdish Women Leaders Executed In Paris

Three Kurdish women including co-founder of PKK separatists assassinated in Paris ‘execution’

10 January, 2013, 19:30

Three Kurdish women have been found shot dead in Paris. One of them is a co-founder of the PPK separatist movement. Hundreds of people have gathered to protest what the French Interior Minister dubbed "intolerable assassinations.”

The women were found outside the Kurdish institute in the French capital at 01:00 GMT.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told France-Info radio, “These assassinations are intolerable, and I hope the inquiry will make rapid progress but let's allow the investigators to do their work.”

The minister also stressed that the killings were “surely an execution.”

"Rest assured that French authorities are determined to get to the bottom of these unbearable acts," added Valls.

The three victims of the attack are Sakine Casiz, a co-founder of the militant PPK, 32-year-old Fidan Dogan, a representative of the National Congress of Kurdistan, an organization based in Brussels, while the third woman was young activist Leyla Soylemez.The women are believed to have held Turkish passports.

Cansiz and one more other victim were reportedly shot in the head, a French police source told Reuters. The third was shot in the stomach, Kurdish media reported.

The murder weapon was believed to have been fitted with a silencer, according to the Firat news agency, which is close to the group.

All three women were last seen on Wednesday, late in the afternoon, in the building of the Kurdish institute.

The killer or killers locked the door of the office where the attack took place, according to Turkey’s ambassador to Paris, Tahsin Burcuoğlu.

Police responding to the scene of the crime were forced to break in when they arrived and the “attackers had locked the doors and then left,” Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News quoted Burcuoğlu, as saying.

In the meantime, hundreds have taken to the streets of the French capital, after the Federation of Kurdish Associations in France (Feyka) called for a demonstration in Paris. The demonstrators were chanting "We are all PKK!" and "Turkey assassin, Hollande complicit", referring to French President Francois Hollande, AFP reported.

The PKK (Parti Karkerani Kurdistan, or Kurdistan Workers' Party) is an organization which has been battling for greater autonomy for Kurds in Turkey for decades, with 40,000 people killed during the 28-year conflict.

Turkish authorities have recently said they were holding talks with the group’s imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, with a peace plan reportedly being agreed. He was jailed in 1999 on the western Turkish island of Imrali.

“Ocalan and the Turkish government have started a peace process, they want to engage in dialogue, but there are parties that are against resolving the Kurdish question and want to sabotage the peace process,” leader of the Kurdistan National Congress, an umbrella group of Kurdish organizations in Europe, Remzi Kartal, told Reuters.

"This is a political crime, there is no doubt about it," he added.

In the meantime, Turkish authorities have hinted that the killings could have been the result of some internal feud within the PKK.

"We have an ongoing process against terrorism in Turkey; this might be a provocation to harm the process, or an internal feud … we don't know yet," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quoted by Hürriyet Daily News as saying.

The Kurdish institute, as posted on its website, is “an independent, non-political, secular organization, embracing Kurdish intellectuals and artists from different horizons as well as Western specialists in Kurdish Studies.”

The United States, Turkey and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization.

Kurdish leader's murder in Paris threatens tentative Turkish-PKK peace deal

The killings of PKK founder Sakine Cansiz and two others could be an attempt to derail negotiations between Ankara and the PKK to peacefully end the militant group's separatist campaign.

By Ariel Zirulnick
posted January 10, 2013 at 8:57 am EST
Christian Science Monitor

The future of a tentative agreement between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the leading militant group fighting for Kurdish autonomy, may be on the rocks after the killing of three Kurdish exiles in Paris in what is suspected to be a politically motivated killing.

One of the three killed, Sakine Cansiz, was a founder of PKK. She and two other women – Fidan Dogan, the head of the Kurdish Institute of Paris and a representative of the Kurdistan National Committee, and Leyla Soylemez, a Kurdish activist – were found dead at the Kurdish Information Center in Paris around 2 a.m. today, The New York Times reports.

Kurdish militants blame the Turkish government, but Turkish media reported that government officials suspect internal feuding within the PKK might be behind the killings.

BBC reports that French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said that the women were "undoubtedly [summarily] executed."

Decades of guerrilla warfare against the Turkish government, aimed at achieving Kurdish autonomy, seemed to be approaching an end last year as Ankara and representatives of the PKK's political wing met in Oslo for talks, but the talks fell apart amid an upsurge of violence in southeastern Turkey, where the Kurds are concentrated.

However, Turkish officials recently acknowledged publicly that they had formed a "tentative peace plan" with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the Times reports.

The Wall Street Journal writes that there was "rising optimism" in Turkey about the prospect for those talks, which are aimed at getting the PKK – considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the European Union because of its attacks on civilians – to disarm. Turkish officials are concerned that the death of the three women might be used to bring an end to the talks, which some within the PKK oppose.

"Unfortunately some may see the incident as an opportunity. Everybody should come to their senses and think and do what is their duty," President Abdullah Gul said, according to the Wall Street Journal. An official with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said, "We have seen inner conflict in the PKK before…. I am not sure who has done this, but there are those who would try to sabotage the process."

Turkish English-language newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reports that Ms. Cansiz was "known for her opposition" to both the head of the PKK's armed wing, a Syrian Kurd named Ferman Hussein, and the PKK's "financial head," Zübeyir Yılmaz.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) condemned the killings and urged Kurds worldwide to stage protests to put pressure on French authorities to thoroughly investigate the death, according to Hurriyet.

“We extend condolences to all Kurdish people. We expect the French government to immediately bring to light this massacre without leaving room for hesitation,” the leaders said in a written statement.

“Those in every place of the world who deem the Kurd worthy of only death should know that we will not avoid paying the cost of freedom for our people, whatever that cost is. We bow with respect before the memories of these three precious Kurdish female politicians who devoted their lives to the future of their people."

About 15 million Kurds live in Turkey, a substantive percentage of Turkey's overall population of 74 million, according to the Times. There are also substantial Kurdish populations in Syria, Iraq, and Iran, where they have varying levels of autonomy.

Hundreds rally in Paris over killing of three Kurdish women

Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:52PM GMT

Hundreds of people have held a rally in the French capital to protest the killing of three Kurdish women, one reportedly a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Demonstrators gathered in front of the Kurdish information centre in Paris to show their fury over the killings. The three women were found dead with gunshot wounds in the chest and neck outside the Kurdish Institute in the French capital at around 2:00 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) on Thursday.

"Three women have been shot down, killed, without doubt executed. This is a very serious incident, which is why I am here. It is completely unacceptable," Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters outside the Kurdish Institute in Paris.

According to a statement by the Federation of Kurdish Associations in France, one of the three dead women was Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the PKK.

The two other women were identified as Fidan Dogan, who worked at the institute, and Leyla Soylemez.

The killings occur a day after successful peace talks between the Turkish government and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan over the three-decade Turkey-PKK conflict.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s. Clashes between Turkish forces and PKK members have claimed around 45,000 lives since starting in 1984.

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