Tens of thousands of Kurds demonstrated in Paris on Jan. 12 following the murder of three women activists of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), including its co-founder, Sakineh Cansiz; the representative of the Kurdistan National Congress, Fidan Dogan; and the young activist, Leyla Söylemez.
The PKK has been carrying out a struggle for self-determination of the oppressed minority Kurdish population in NATO-member Turkey and an armed struggle since 1984. In that time, the U.S. and the NATO-armed Turkish military have killed tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians. The three political activists were executed, shot in the head, in the early hours of Jan. 10 at the Paris office of the Kurdistan Information Center.
Kurds came from several European countries to attend the demonstration, as did members of Turkish socialist organizations and politicians of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) from Turkey. Demonstrators carried banners with the pictures of their murdered representatives and raised slogans such as “The Kurds will not be intimidated.” The demonstrators also demanded full disclosure from the French authorities and the rapid arrest and prosecution of the murderers. (German daily newspaper Junge Welt, Jan. 14)
In the most reasonable explanation of the murders, the PKK accuses reactionary forces deep in the Turkish state apparatus of being behind the killings. The killers’ motive is to sabotage the ongoing peace talks between PKK’s imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish state officials.
The PKK statement reads: ”Our three comrades, three honorable members of our free women’s movement, were deliberately chosen as a target. The Kurdish women movement of our party will never forget this bloody killing. These killings and provocations will never be able to suppress our freedom movement or our people.
“The statements and insults by the AKP authorities [members of Justice and Development Party in Turkey who have said killings could be the result of a PKK feud] obviously aim to cover up the perpetrators of this brutal execution and to mislead the public opinion.”
Regarding the role of the French regime, the statement added, “It is not possible for this bloody attack to be carried out in a central place like this without the support of international intelligence services and states. This massacre is the last step of a policy aimed at criminalizing our movement.”
French imperialism has just sent troops and planes to intervene in Mali. It has a record of collaborating or using assassination of political leaders in pursuing imperialist foreign policy. In 1965, leftist Moroccan leader Mehdi Ben Barka was “disappeared” in Paris. Anti-imperialist Henri Curiel was assassinated in Paris in 1978. Both cases are unsolved.
To repress an Indigenous revolt in the French colony of New Caledonia in 1985, a French sharpshooter assassinated Kanak leader Eloi Machoro.
Besides arming Turkey against the Kurdish movement, U.S. imperialism has also targeted the PKK as “terrorist” and has campaigned against PKK representatives in Western Europe.