Kurdish assassination mystery grips Paris
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The executions of three Kurdish women in Paris have sparked questions over the motives for the high-level assassinations. FRANCE 24 asks Kendal Nezan, president of the Kurdish Institute in Paris, for his views on the mysterious murders.
The mysterious, seemingly carefully planned January 9 executions of three Kurdish women – including a founding member of a leading militant group – in a Paris building have sparked questions over the possible motivations for the murders.
The victims included Sakine Cansiz, one of the founders of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) – an outlawed militant group fighting for autonomy in Turkey.
The Kurdish community in France has accused Turkey of being behind the killings. But Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has categorically denied any responsibility in what he called the “savage” attack. "Killing three women in this way, [with] a bullet in the head...it is absolutely not something we can approve," he said.
The triple executions came days after Turkey acknowledged it has holding peace talks with PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence in a Turkish jail.
Hüseyin Çelik, spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) pointed a finger toward internal discord within the PKK. "This seems like an internal feud, we have seen these sorts of incidents before," he said in a statement published Thursday on the Turkish English language daily, Hurriyet Daily News.
While Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that it’s still “too early to draw any conclusions,” he also suggested the killings could be the result of internal strife within the Kurdish community or an act to sabotage the talks.
Kendal Nezan, president of the Kurdish Institute in Paris, gives us his view.
France 24: What, according to you, could be the motive for these killings?
Kendel Nezan: This triple murder comes as the Turkish government began negotiations with the head of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned since 1999 on the prison island of Imrali. That’s certainly no coincidence.
In the Turkish establishment, there are people who oppose the peace settlement. For them, there is no Kurdish problem in Turkey, but a terrorist problem. They feel the need to combat terrorism by eliminating all terrorists.
FRANCE 24: One of the theories being considered is that killings could be the result of internal discord within the PKK – what’s your opinion of this view?
Kendel Nezan: In the current context, this is unlikely.
One of the scenarios could be similar to the secret OAS [Organisation de l'armée secrète] during the time [former French President Charles] de Gaulle negotiated peace with Algeria.
[Editor’s note: In 1962, the dissident French paramilitary group opposed to Algerian independence plotted – but failed – to assassinate de Gaulle.] Like the OAS, there are Turkish extreme right groups such as the Gray Wolves.
I also think that there are radical groups within the army, who are quite capable of doing such things in defense of the homeland. We must therefore rely on French authorities to quickly shed light on these political murders.
FRANCE 24: Can the execution of these three Kurdish women in Paris derail the peace process?
Kendel Nezan: Unfortunately yes, that’s a risk. This is an important process for stability in the region, which should go beyond acts of sabotage. Extremists should not take over. The Kurdish community demands, at the very least, a general amnesty to turn the page on violence, the recognition of Kurdish identity and Kurdish language education in Turkey.