Turkey discusses the murder of Kurdish activists in Paris over opposition politician’s trial

The murder of three female Kurdish activists in 2013 in Paris has been at the centre of debates in Turkish social media since the beginning of the week as the trial for “terrorist propaganda” of Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the Istanbul provincial head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), progresses.

Turkish prosecutors demand 17-years in prison for Kaftancıoğlu for insulting the president and other public officials, provoking hatred and animosity in society and terrorism propaganda over messages she posted on Twitter between 2012 and 2014.

Three women, including Sakine Cansız, a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), were shot dead in a Kurdish information centre in Paris in 2013. Ömer Güney, the only suspect, died in December 2016 due to a brain tumour and France dropped all proceedings over the 2013 murders the following month, despite protests demanding the continuation of inquiries.

One of Kaftancıoğlu’s tweets included in the case file is about the 2013 murders. “The history of humankind starts with a woman. Humanity loses due to things done to women,” she said after the assassinations.

Kaftancığlu’s second hearing was held last week and the politician appeared on a television programme on Halk TV afterwards.

The politician said she was a human rights advocate and therefore it was her responsibility to support the right to life whether a person is innocent or guilty. 

“In any case, if you kill three women violently at the centre of Europe, I have to condemn it. I have to do it, regardless of those persons’ guilts,” she said. A state’s responsibility, she said, is to bring people to justice.

Her remarks prompted heated debates on social media. 

Ümit Özdağ, a lawmaker of the nationalist opposition Good Party, objected on Twitter to Kaftancıoğlu’s comments. “I am not sure whether Kaftancıoğlu shared her sorrow over the murder of Turkish diplomats in Erbil, but I find it very just to execute the terrorist chiefs in Paris,” he said, citing an attack that happened last week in northern Iraq. 

“Every terror chief should feel on his neck the barrel of the Turkish state. We have to terrorise terror,” he said. 

“Your statement is very improper and untimely,” replied Mine Kırıkkanat, a columnist of the nationalist-left Cumhuriyet newspaper. “Because the case has been reopened and MİT (Turkey’s intelligence agency) is being targeted,” she went on. “You are a statesman and this statement will leave Turkey in a difficult situation. There is something called diplomacy, isn’t there,” she said. 

The pro-Kurdish Fırat News Agency reported in May that French authorities had decided to re-open the case after the families of the victims filed a new complaint last year and appointed an anti-terrorism judge to lead the proceedings.

“The U.S. has a right to kill Bin Ladin. Israel had the right to kill the Munich attackers. And Turkey has a right to kill an ExComm member of the PKK, a designated terrorist organisation. Case closed,” said Selim Sazak, a doctoral student in political science at Brown University known for his op-eds published in Foreign Policy magazine and the Washington Post. Sazak later deleted his tweet.

Selim Sazak's deleted tweet on the murders.
Selim Sazak's deleted tweet on the murders.