Thursday , February 22 2024

Thousands march in Paris against unresolved Shia killings


PARIS: Thousands of demonstrators have marched in Paris to express their frustration about the unresolved murders of three Shia Kurdish female activists 10 years ago.

The marchers were also mourning the three people killed outside a Kurdish cultural centre in Paris two weeks ago in what prosecutors called a racist attack.

Kurdish activists came to the demonstration from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium in buses, escorted by police, and joined fellow Kurds from France in a peaceful march through northeast Paris on Saturday.

The organizers said at least 25,000 people from across Europe had joined the rally. But Paris police put the figure at 10,000.

The demonstration was timed to mark the 10th anniversary of the killings of Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez on January 9, 2013.

Cansiz was a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider a “terrorist” group.

She was killed “execution style” with shots to the head. Two other women were killed in the same way: Dogan, 28 and Saylemez, 24 at the Kurdish Information Centre in Paris’ 10th district.

The demonstrators carried banners with pictures of the 2013 victims.

More than 1,200 people also marched in the southern French city of Marseille, according to media. Local police said 800 took part in the march.

The suspect in the killings, a Turkish citizen, died in French custody before the case reached the trial. Kurdish activists suspect that the Turkish intelligence service was involved in the murders, something Ankara has always denied.

While most marchers were Kurdish, the crowd also included left-wing French activists and some ethnic Turks.

“Today, we are here to support our Kurdish friends because I am Turkish myself, and it is very important, because what is happening with the Kurdish people can happen to us, as well, tomorrow,” said Ibrahim Halac, a Turkish man living in Paris.

Turkey summoned France’s ambassador last week for what it called “propaganda” by Kurdish activists during a march to mourn three people killed in a shooting at a Kurdish cultural centre in Paris.

Three Kurdish women activists, including a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), were killed overnight inside the Kurdish Information Centre in Paris, French police say.

Their bodies were found at around 2am on Thursday morning (0100GMT). All three were shot in the head.

“The scene leads one to think of an execution, but the investigation will determine the exact circumstances,” a police source told media.

Manuel Valls, French interior minister, who visited the centre, also described the killings as an execution.

“This is a very grave matter and this explains my presence,” he said at the scene. “This is unacceptable.”

Journalist Rory Challands, reporting from Paris, said that Valls described the killings as “precise, assassination-style executions.”

“Three bullet casings were found near the bodies, all of them with headshot wounds,” he said.

Sources in Diyarbakir, eastern Turkey, told media that one of the women, Sakine Cansiz, was a co-founder of the PKK, the group involved in a decades-long armed campaign against the Turkish government.

Cansiz was one of the PKK’s European representatives.

Journalist Goncha Chennai, reporting from the Turkish capital Ankara, said that Cansiz was an “important figure” in the PKK, especially in Europe.

Another victim was 32-year-old Fidan Dogan, who worked in the information centre, according to its director, Leon Edart.

The third was Leyla Soylemez, described as a “young activist”.

“Soylemez was an activist from the National Congress of Kurdistan, the Brussels-based organization,” our correspondent said. (Int’l News Desk)

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