Three female Kurdish activists were found dead in the Kurdish Institute of Paris in the early hours of Thursday morning. The bodies are thought to include that of Sakine Cansiz – a founding member of the militant Turkish ‘Kurdistan Workers Party’ (PKK).
Each of the three women had gunshot wounds to the head, giving the appearance of an execution style killing.
“The scene [of the crime] could give rise to the idea that this was an execution, but the investigation will have to establish the exact circumstances of this incident,” a police source told reporters in France.
A French Kurdish news website has identified one of the three women as Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the PKK. A second victim is thought to be Fidan Dogan, an employee of the Kurdish Institute. The third women is said to be a representative of the National Congress of Kurdistan, a Kurdish political group based in Brussels.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls spoke to the France-Info radio station about the apparent murders, saying:
“These assassinations are intolerable, and I hope the inquiry will make rapid progress but let’s allow the investigators to do their work.”
So far there is no indication who was responsible for the murders, or what the motive may have been. The Turkish government is currently engaged in peace talks with PKK militants, so the most obvious speculation would be that these assassinations are connected with those negotiations. Perhaps they are connected to power struggles between different factions within the movement, or perhaps it is an outside agency removing obstacles to agreement. That is pure speculation on my part, however.
The Federation of Kurdish Associations in France called for French Kurds to take to the streets of Paris for a demonstration – and the Kurdish community duly responded:
Meanwhile Turkish media is reporting that Prime Minister Erdogan has agreed a ‘roadmap to peace’ with the PKK. Turkish government officials have not confirmed these reports, and it is thought that the current deal will stop short of providing the ceasefire which Erdogan has been trying to negotiate.