Many Kurds in France disagree with the claim of the French authorities that the December attack against a Kurdish cultural centre which left three people dead was committed by a lone wolf, according to a programme on the US National Public Radio on Friday.
“No Kurd believes December’s killings were just a racist attack and a coincidence coming so close to the 9 January anniversary,” French Kurdish shopkeeper Aria Aranc Kaborani told the US radio station, referring to a similar attack in 2013. “It’s a pure political attack, and Turkey is behind it,” added shopkeepers who attended a march organised by Kurds in Paris this week to commemorate the victims of both the 2013 and the 2022 attacks.
Three Kurdish female activists, including a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were killed by a Turkish gunman in 2013. The attacker, who was allegedly linked to Turkish intelligence, lost his life from a brain tumour in prison in 2016.
That the 2013 murders have remained unsolved has helped shaped Kurds’ perceptions of the recent murders on 23 December. The French authorities have arrested a 69-year old retired train conductor with a history of racist attacks for the killing of the three people and for the wounding of three others in the same attack.
According to his testimony, the attacker was seeking random foreigners as targets at the day of the attack.
“Why would someone looking to kill foreigners go to this tiny street and fire into a Kurdish cultural centre when there are halal butchers and streets full of Africans all around?” asked Nicole Dubois, a French woman watching the march.
“This is why we are here today – to ask for truth and justice for the political killings of 2013 and, again, the political killings of December 2022,” said Pierre Bonneau, who works with human rights group the Danielle Mitterrand Association. Europe has a moral obligation to protect the Kurds, not least because they have been a huge force in fighting ISIS in Syria, Bonneau added.
The killings are a stain on French democracy, according to Sarah Marcha, a spokesperson for the movement of Kurdish women in France.
“We want that this assassination will stop. For that, we need that French government will open some documents that are classified and give all the documents to the justice that the justice can make their work,” Marcha said, referring to the still unsolved 2013 incident.