Three Kurdish women were murdered in Paris yesterday in the offices of the Kurdish Institute. The women were all political activists affiliated with the PKK, a Kurdish nationalist group active in Turkey and Iraq. Sakine Cansiz, one of the co-founders of the PKK, was among the dead.
No motive has yet been established, but the killings seem to have been targeted political assassinations and the French Interior Minister called the killings “executions.” PKK nationalists have carried out armed attacks and bombings against Turkish forces, causing them to be labelled a terrorist group by some nations.
Parisians are shocked by that the assassinations were carried out in the French capital, in the 10th arrondissement, close to the center of the city. Le Monde writes that “La nouvelle a provoqué une onde de choc en France, où les assassinats politiques de ce type sont rares, mais aussi en Turquie où l’événement fait la ‘une.'”
Pro-PKK Turkish activists have periodically held rallies in Paris—often calling for the release of the imprisoned Abdullah Öcalan, co-founder of the PKK along with the slain Sakine Cansiz. I witnessed one of these rallies in the place de la Bastille during my recent sabbatical research in Paris.
This story raises a number of questions about broader political issues and historical contexts: PKK organization, ethno-nationalist movements, Turkish nationalism, Ottoman legacies, post-colonial arrangements, political violence, targeted assassinations, European Union politics, Parisian activism, and gender and violence.
Le Monde reports on the killings in Paris and on the investigation, as does Libération. The BBC and the Washington Post provide reporting on the murders in English. Le Monde also has video of a Kurdish rally in Paris following news of the assassinations.