Kurdish activists killed after Turkey announces peace plan with PKK

Members of the Kurdish community in France demonstrate while two men, left, carry the body of one of the three Kurdish women shot dead at the Kurdish Institute on 10 January 2013 in Paris. (Photo: AFP - Thomas Samson.)

Published Thursday, January 10, 2013

Three Kurdish female political activists, including the founder of the PKK, were killed Wednesday inside the Kurdish Institute of Paris, a police source told AFP.

The murders came after Turkish media reported Wednesday that the Turkish government and Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, a left-wing Kurdish nationalist organization, had agreed on a roadmap to end a three-decade-old insurgency that has claimed around 45,000 lives.

The victims were identified as Fidan Dogan, Sakine Cansiz and Leyla Soylemez. All three were involved in Kurdish politics.

Cansiz was described in a statement by the Federation of Kurdish Associations in France as a founding member of the PKK. Dogan was an employee of the institute where the women were found, according to its director, Leon Edart. She was also the Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress.

Soylemez was a “young activist,” according to the Kurdish federation’s statement.

The bodies of the women were found shortly before 2:00 am Thursday inside the building in the 10th district of the French capital. Police has confirmed that the three women were shot in the head, neck and stomach.

"The scene leads one to think of an execution, but the investigation will determine the exact circumstances," the source said.

The three women were last seen midday on Wednesday at the center, which was found locked by late afternoon, according to Edart. Early investigations results have not discovered evidence of a break-in, suggesting that the women might have let the killer or killers into the institute, French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls visited the scene at the Information Center for Kurdistan, hours after police and firefighters found the bodies. A French anti-terrorism brigade has opened an investigation into the murders, Le Figaro reported.

Huseyin Celik, the deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling party, said the attack appeared to be the result of "an internal feud" within the PKK.

But PKK Europe secretary Zubeyir Aydar and other Kurdish political figures were cited by Turkey-based news organization Bianet as implying that the killings were a retaliation to the recent peace process.

The pro-Kurdish publication suggested that the Turkish “deep state”–referring to an alleged coalition of influential anti-democratic figures–could be behind the murders.

Hundreds of Kurds gathered Thursday in front of the centre to protest at the deaths, with some of them chanting "We are all PKK!" and "Turkey assassin, Hollande complicit", referring to French President François Hollande.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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