PARIS, France, AFP – About 15,000 Kurds from all over Europe vowed revenge as they rallied Saturday in Paris over the killing of three top Kurdish activists from a separatist group banned in Turkey.
The march, which began at city’s Gare de l’Est railway station, was emotionally charged with demonstrators saying France would be an accomplice in the brazen murders if it did not identify and punish the killers. “This crime is a crime against the Kurdish people and against peace,” said a woman demonstrator, calling for an end to the listing of the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
“The French state bears a responsibility. If the perpetrators of these crimes are not found, France will be indisputably considered as an accomplice,” said a leaflet published and distributed by France’s main Kurdish association Feyka. The demonstrators, marching under grey skies and an intermittent drizzle, held banners saying “Intikam! PKK”, using the Turkish word for revenge, and “The martyrs of the Revolution Are Eternal”.
“This attack comes at a time when talks are on to find a solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey,” said Feyka. French President Francois Hollande had said the murder was “terrible”, adding that he knew one of the Kurdish women and that she “regularly met us,” a comment seized by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who on Saturday sought an explanation from Paris.
“How can he regularly meet with these people who are members of a group listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and who are wanted under red bulletin (issued by Interpol)?” Erdogan asked, referring to Hollande. Erdogan said Hollande “must explain immediately to the French, Turkish and world public why … he is in communication with these terrorists.” The Turkish leader repeatedly accused some European states, including France and Germany, of obstructing Ankara’s fight against the PKK, saying that they were letting PKK members freely circulate on their territory.
Experts have suggested a number of potential motives for the killings, including an attack by Turkish extremists and internal feuding within the PKK. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak who have been in Paris since the execution of three Kurdish woman politicians on 9 January met French Interior Minister Manuel Valls on Friday evening.
The meeting was also attended by BDP Van deputy Nazmi Gür and BDP European Representative Eyyüp Doru. Speaking after the meeting, BDP deputy Gür said that the meeting was about the execution of three Kurdish activists. Gür noted that they had asked the French Minister to use every means available to shed light on the killings.