French lawmakers who joined a protest organised by Kurds on Saturday in the aftermath of a deadly attack against a cultural centre demanded that the French authorities conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, provide more support to Kurds and delist the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terror organisation.
“The anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office should take this case into its own hands,” Eric Coquerel, a member of parliament for La France Insoumise told Media News correspondent Chris Den Hond during the demonstration at the Place de la République.
Many Kurdish groups see Friday’s attack as a Turkey-sponsored attack, despite the French authorities arresting a 69-year-old man with far-right connections as the suspect of the incident, in which three people dead and three others were injured.
“It should not be considered a simple murder,” Coquerel said, in response to the police and prosecutors treating the attack as a racist act carried out by a single man.
Fabienne Lefebvre, vice-mayor of Vitry-sur-Seine and member of the political bureau of the French Communist Party asked the PKK to be removed from the list of terrorist organisations, “so that negotiations could take place for the Kurdish people to obtain their rights”.
The PKK, which has been fighting for self-determination since 1984, is included de-facto on the European Union’s terror lists that are renewed every year, though no international or European-level court has ever concluded that the PKK meets the criteria of a terrorist organisation.
Socialist Party Senator Rémi Féraud, pointed to the efforts of the Kurds in fighting against the ISIS as a part of the US-led coalition set up to eliminate the jihadist group. Féraud asked France to be “more firm in the Middle East to protect the right of the Kurds, especially when they fight on our side against terrorism”.
“Nothing has been done since 10 years,” said Carlos Bilongo, another French MP, referring to a 2013 attack in Paris during which three female Kurdish activists, including one a founder member of the PKK, were murdered by a Turkish gunman. The case over the 2013 attack remained unsolved after the main and the only suspect died in prison in 2016, a month before his trial was to start. The Kurdish community in France accuse the French authorities of covering up the incident by allowing the alleged contacts of the suspect and some Turkish intelligence officers to remain in shadow.
“In August I was in Midyat with our friends from the HDP [People’s Democratic Party],” Bilongo continued, referring to a meeting between him and some officials of the pro-Kurdish HDP that took place in Turkey’s Mardin province to discuss the situation of Selahattin Demirtaş, the former chair of the party who has been in prison since 2016.
“They explained to me the political climate in Turkey for the Kurds. Many politicians, members of parliament, elected mayors of the HDP are in prison,” he said of the harsh crackdown against Kurdish politicians.
“Even in Paris, Kurdish people are not living in security,” Bilongo said.
According to France’s left wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon, the killer did not act alone and chose his victims with care.
“He has calculated his acts and knew that he was going to kill. Now the French authorities should launch a serious and profound investigation in order to understand what led to this assassination,” Melenchon said. “It’s the second time that Kurdish leaders or activists were killed in Paris, and the last time the suspicions were pointing to the Turkish authorities,” he added.
Pierre Laurent, a French senator for the Communist Party and the organiser of a delegation that visited the the Kurdish-controlled town of Rojava in Syria in January also commented on the incident.
“France should unveil the entire truth of this political crime. Another killing took place in the centre of Paris 10 years ago, of three Kurdish activists. And we know how difficult it is to get to the truth. And we still have not reached the truth,
because France refused to lift the confidentiality order on this file,” Laurent said.
The senator called on France to take responsibility. “The PKK should be removed from the list of terrorist organisations, because its militants are hit in the centre of Paris and are continuously accused, because the PKK figures on this list, of being terrorists themselves. But they are the victims of terrorism. They have fought against ISIS in the field,” Laurent said.
“France must stop manoeuvring and negotiating with Erdoğan,” Laurent added referring to Turkey’s president. “France should condemn the aggressive policy of Erdoğan against the Kurds. These last weeks, Erdoğan bombed the Kurds in the north of Syria and the north of Iraq and he wants [to conduct] a ground operation,” the senator said referring to the Turkish government plans to launch a ground invasion in Rojava.
“The French authorities are perfectly aware of that, because Erdoğan negotiates behind the scenes during NATO summits or other Western summits. He wants the green light for his military ground operation. France should now be much more severe, stop playing with Erdoğan and really support the Kurdish people and its democratic representatives,” Laurent concluded.