Kurdish Paris march highlights hypocrisy -- different killings, different standards

January 16, 2015
Sakine Cansiz.

The day before the huge January 11 demonstration in Paris against the killings at the Charlie Hebdo office, another demonstration marked another set of killings in the French capital.

On January 10, tens of thousands of Kurds and their supporters marched to mark the assassination two years earlier of three Kurdish women activists of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and to protest the French government’s foot-dragging on clarifying the truth about the crime.

On January 9, 2013, Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez were killed at the office of the Kurdish Information Centre in Paris. The French interior minister said they had been “without doubt executed”.

Cansiz, a founder of the PKK in Turkey in 1978, was jailed and tortured in the notoriously brutal Dyarbakir prison in the 1980s. She then took part in the PKK’s armed struggle and from the mid-1990s played a leading role in the group’s work in Europe.

Cansiz was known as a passionate and tireless fighter for women’s equality within the organisation and society. She was most likely the main target of the killing; the two younger activists being killed simply because they were there.

The French authorities fairly quickly arrested Omer Gueney and charged him with the murders. The big question, however, is who Gueney was working for. Evidence has emerged that points strongly to the crime being orchestrated by the Turkish intelligence agency MIT, or, at least, by elements of it.

At the time of the crime, the MIT head was leading peace negotiations, on behalf of the Turkish government, with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Were the Paris killings a bid by elements of the Turkish “deep state” to derail these discussions? Or were they a bid to “render ineffective” — as it was put in a 2012 document purporting to be from the MIT and released on the internet — a very effective Kurdish leader in Europe? Or something else altogether?

A huge outcry over the horrific Charlie Hebdo killings suits the French state and its leaders. Shedding real light on the murders of Sakine Cansiz and her comrades, however, will only create problems for the French authorities, hence the impasse in the case.

The Paris demonstrators demanded real answers to the killings. Two years have passed and the real organisers of the killings have not been made public.

The French government has put its good relations with Turkey ahead of justice. As Left Party MEP Patrick Le Hyaric explained at the rally: “We know this very well and will not accept any more excuses. France and the international community must reveal who was behind these murders.”

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