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France

Protestors in Paris demand justice for murdered Kurdish activists

media In Marseille, a Kurdish woman holds up pictures of the three PKK members killed the night before in Paris. Boris Horvat/AFP

Thousands took to the streets of the French capital on Saturday to demand justice for three Kurdish activists who were assassinated here in 2013. The culprit is still unknown.

The AFP estimated that nearly 5,000 protestors braved the Paris winter cold to participate in the march that started from the train station Gare du Nord and ended at Place de la République on Saturday 7 January.

The demonstrators were demanding justice for the three Kurdish activists who were shot and killed in front of at a Kurdish centre in January 2013. The three women were members of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) Fidan Dogan, 28, Leyla Saylemez, 24, and Sakine Cansiz, 54, one of the party’s co-founders.

The sole suspect in the assassination, Ömer Güney from Turkey, who had been held in French prison, died in a hospital in Paris in December.

Güney had maintained he was innocent, despite video surveillance footage showing him entering the building just before the three women were killed. One of the victims’ DNA was also found on his jacket.

His trial was set to begin 23 January 2017.

Slow government response

Kurdish activists have criticised the French government for not moving quicker to put Güney on trial.

“This happened four years ago,” Cemile Renklicay, co-president of the Democratic Kurdish Council told the AFP at Saturday’s protest. “We were angry when they were assassinated, but now we are even more so because there won’t even be a trial.”

“We feel like our comrades were killed twice,” she added.

French investigators had recognised the possible involvement of the Turkish secret service (MIT) in the killings, a claim that MIT denied.

The decades-old fight between Turkey and the PKK has led the country to label the group as a terrorist organisation. The PKK has led an armed campaign against Turkey calling for the creation of an ethnic Kurdish homeland in the country’s southeast.
 

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