Kurdish Cultural Center/AP
This undated and unlocated photo provided Thursday, Jan.10, 2013 by the Kurdish Cultural center in Paris shows Sakine Cansiz, founding member of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Three Kurdish women, including Cansiz, were "executed" at a Kurdish center in Paris, the interior minister said Thursday.

Kurdish leader's murder in Paris threatens tentative Turkish-PKK peace deal

The killings of PKK founder Sakine Cansiz and two others could be an attempt to derail negotiations between Ankara and the PKK to peacefully end the militant group's separatist campaign.

• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The future of a tentative agreement between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the leading militant group fighting for Kurdish autonomy, may be on the rocks after the killing of three Kurdish exiles in Paris in what is suspected to be a politically motivated killing.

One of the three killed, Sakine Cansiz, was a founder of PKK. She and two other women – Fidan Dogan, the head of the Kurdish Institute of Paris and a representative of the Kurdistan National Committee, and Leyla Soylemez, a Kurdish activist – were found dead at the Kurdish Information Center in Paris around 2 a.m. today, The New York Times reports. (Editor's note: This sentence has been edited to correctly reflect where the incident happened; initial news reports were incorrect.)

Kurdish militants blame the Turkish government, but Turkish media reported that government officials suspect internal feuding within the PKK might be behind the killings.

BBC reports that French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said that the women were "undoubtedly [summarily] executed."

Decades of guerrilla warfare against the Turkish government, aimed at achieving Kurdish autonomy, seemed to be approaching an end last year as Ankara and representatives of the PKK's political wing met in Oslo for talks, but the talks fell apart amid an upsurge of violence in southeastern Turkey, where the Kurds are concentrated.

However, Turkish officials recently acknowledged publicly that they had formed a "tentative peace plan" with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the Times reports.

The Wall Street Journal writes that there was "rising optimism" in Turkey about the prospect for those talks, which are aimed at getting the PKK – considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the European Union because of its attacks on civilians – to disarm. Turkish officials are concerned that the death of the three women might be used to bring an end to the talks, which some within the PKK oppose.

"Unfortunately some may see the incident as an opportunity. Everybody should come to their senses and think and do what is their duty," President Abdullah Gul said, according to the Wall Street Journal. An official with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said, "We have seen inner conflict in the PKK before…. I am not sure who has done this, but there are those who would try to sabotage the process."

Turkish English-language newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reports that Ms. Cansiz was "known for her opposition" to both the head of the PKK's armed wing, a Syrian Kurd named Ferman Hussein, and the PKK's "financial head," Zübeyir Yılmaz.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) condemned the killings and urged Kurds worldwide to stage protests to put pressure on French authorities to thoroughly investigate the death, according to Hurriyet.

“We extend condolences to all Kurdish people. We expect the French government to immediately bring to light this massacre without leaving room for hesitation,” the leaders said in a written statement.

“Those in every place of the world who deem the Kurd worthy of only death should know that we will not avoid paying the cost of freedom for our people, whatever that cost is. We bow with respect before the memories of these three precious Kurdish female politicians who devoted their lives to the future of their people."

About 15 million Kurds live in Turkey, a substantive percentage of Turkey's overall population of 74 million, according to the Times. There are also substantial Kurdish populations in Syria, Iraq, and Iran, where they have varying levels of autonomy.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Kurdish leader's murder in Paris threatens tentative Turkish-PKK peace deal
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today