Four years have passed since the murders of Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez in their office at the Kurdish Information Center in Paris. The women died by gun shots to their heads at close range, assassination style on 9th January 2013[1]. The suspect in the case, who was linked to the Turkish security services in Ankara, died in prison suddenly on 17th December, a month before his trial was due to start. There had been no prior indications of ill health.

The family and friends of the three women have therefore been denied their chance of justice and resolution. The case will remain an open sore in the French justice system until those who ordered these horrific murders are identified and convicted. The role played by Turkish security services was clearly stated in the indictment and in the investigating judge’s file and therefore this case cannot be considered to be closed simply through the death of the person who pulled the trigger. The case runs so much deeper than that. [2]

Peace in Kurdistan Women’s Alliance condemns, in the strongest terms, impunity for crimes such as this against political activists in Europe. Sakine Cansiz was granted political asylum in France as a result of her persecution by the Turkish state and deserved a place of sanctuary and safety from her political opponents in Turkey, but her and her colleagues’ lives were taken in a brutal crime that remains unsolved. We call on the French authorities to take all possible measures to ensure that this case does not remain unresolved and to pursue all leads until those who ordered this crime are identified and held to account.

The three women were targeted and murdered for their political activities on behalf of the Kurdish people. Sakine was a life long activist and founding member of the PKK. She spent many years imprisoned in terrible conditions and was tortured in Diyarbakir prison in the 1980s after the military coup. She led the protest movement inside the prison and after her release joined the armed struggle for Kurdish liberation and was the powerful force and inspiration for the Kurdish women’s movement, which remains to this day a beacon of hope for women in the middle east, and which is at the forefront of the battle against ISIS in Syria. Fidan and Leyla were also dedicated activists and supporters of the international work for Kurdish people.

The murders came at a time in 2013 when Ocalan had called for the weapons to fall silent and for ideas to speak. There was much optimism that the new peace process would bear fruit. We continue to hold out hope that the process can be restarted and believe that that would be a fitting tribute to these women who worked tirelessly for freedom for the Kurdish people.

Peace in Kurdistan honours our sisters on tis anniversary as they continue to inspire our efforts for peace, justice and freedom for the Kurdish people.


[1] https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/2017/01/06/paris-assassinations-9-1-13-sakine-cansizfidan-dogan-and-leyla-soylemez/

[2] http://anfenglish.com/features/was-omer-guney-s-death-planned