Brutal executions of Kurdish women activists in Paris - an attempt to derail the peace process that won’t succeed
by David Morgan
Sun 13th Jan 2013
In the early hours of Thursday morning, 10 January, in the heart of Paris, an appalling crime was perpetrated: the cold-blooded murder of three leading Kurdish women activists.
The victims represent three generations of Kurdish women; the most senior was Sakine Canziz, a founder member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, who has since been playing a crucial role in the Kurdish women’s movement; Fidan Dogan (Rojbin) who was a member of the Kurdistan National Congress and the youngest casualty, Leyla Soylemez, was an activist working on diplomatic relations.
All had dedicated their lives to the achievement of a lasting peace settlement between Turkey and the Kurdish movement and at the time of their brutal deaths were just about to see all their efforts come to fruition with the reopening of peace talks between representatives of the Turkish government and the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Ocalan, who remains in jail on Imrali island.
Tragically these three women will now never be able to see the final outcome of the peace that they had worked so long and hard for; it is left to others to carry out the task of securing the peace and justice on behalf of the Kurdish people.
These three friends were singled out for execution because of their ethnicity in what must surely count as one of the most shocking hate crimes ever to have occurred in a sophisticated Parisian suburb. They were shot in the neck apparently at point-blank range and their bodies were found in their office which showed no signs of any forced entry.
News of the killings has been met with universal shock and horror. The French President Francois Hollande reportedly described the incident as "horrible", while the country’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls expressed the view that the manner of their deaths was "surely an execution".
The Kurdish community, who were filled with hope and expectations after the start of peace talks, have reacted to these deaths with outrage and anger but tempered by a remarkable self-discipline and restraint.
It seems clear that the executions were carried out by a professional assassin or assassins and the action is being interpreted as a provocation designed to derail the emerging peace process; since it surely can be no coincidence that the murders came within hours of the announcement of peace talks between Turkey and Mr Ocalan.
All the circumstances appear to point to the fact that Sakine, Fidan and Leyla were killed by someone who does not want to see Turkey and the Kurds ever reaching a peace accord.
To take away the lives of innocent people in cold blood is the most heinous crime imaginable, but to commit such a barbaric act in a cynical attempt to prevent peace must be counted as the worst of all villainies.
The Kurdish people now will be unable to rest until the culprits of these horrific executions are tracked down and brought to justice.
The French authorities and their European counterparts also have a duty to support the peace process in Turkey to which they can most constructively contribute by removing the obstacles that they have placed in its way, primarily by ending the criminalisation of the Kurdish community through the delisting of the PKK as a terrorist organisation and specifically in the case of France, the authorities should release the leading Kurdish peace activist and KNK representative Adem Uzun, who was arrested in Paris in October 2012.
After initial shock and sadness, the Kurdish people’s demand for justice will only grow stronger. They are a determined people used to great hardship and resilient enough to cope with tragedies. The Kurdish political movement can best honour the memory of these martyred women by redoubling efforts for peace and remaining steadfast in their dedication to the successful implementation of the roadmap to peace which will ultimately bring the much longed for justice the Kurds deserve after many generations of struggle.