KURDISTAN: 'Deep,' Old Habits on Kurdish Women's killings

Saturday, January 12, 2013
Hurriyet Daily news
Western Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

If sorted out from the floating theories on the culprits and their motivations, what the execution-style killings of three female Kurdish activists in Paris showed was that the conflicting parties, and third actors, of the long-standing conflict in Turkey over the Kurdish issue still maintain their deep-rooted, old habits.

The violent killings of the three women, including Sakine Cansız, a founding member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), came amid the rising optimism over Turkish intelligence-initiated talks between the government and the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, and regardless of what the authorities find out at the end of their investigation it is obvious that the murders are somehow linked to the freshly revived peace progress.

While both the Turkish state and Kurdish movement avoided statements and direct accusations, which would derail the fragile peace process, their timid rhetoric and positioning on the slayings implied quite the opposite and pointed at an implicit blame game on the other.

Without waiting for the results of the investigation and seemingly without any concrete evidence, senior Turkish leaders have labeled the murders “internal revenge” within the PKK or a “provocation” targeting the peace process. The theory of bloody internal dispute was backed by influential PKK figure Cansız's reported support of the peace talks and her recent alleged quarrel with the hardliners within the group opposing the “surrender.” On the other side of the coin, the Kurdish lawmakers, politicians and militant leaders mostly described the killings as a strike by the remaining ultranationalist traces in the “deep Turkish state” on the very heart of peace talks, while avoiding looking for any other detail.

The targeting of Cansız along with Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress' (KNK) Paris representative, Fidan Doğan, and Leyla Söylemez, a Kurdish activist, was not a coincidence at a time when the both the Turkish state and Kurdish movement signaled their willingness for a lasting peace. But cracking the codes of the real aim behind the killings would need more than the knowingly preferred “naive” arguments made by both sides for decades.

Cansız, who was said to have been close to Öcalan and to have taken part in previous failed talks with the Turkish state, also supposedly gave her blessing to the fresh meetings. Her support might have irked some within the group but, despite the previous alleged intra-killings within the PKK, if those alleged to be at odds with her over talks took the risk of sabotaging the process that would hint in the wider range at possible hardliner break-offs from the PKK in the near future.

Furthermore, the killings have also not been considered in the context of Turkey's regional dilemmas with fingers pointing at the country's neighbors, which are said not to be content with Ankara's peace efforts with the jailed PKK leader. Accused for a long time of using the PKK as a “tool in the proxy war” with Turkey, the first culprit was seen as Syria, which has been seeing Turkey as host to rebels fighting against the regime. Then the turn was handed over to another regional country fighting against a PKK-linked militant group, Iran, which is alleged to be anxious over Turkey's efforts.

For the PKK's part, it is not an unknown fact that the group capitalized on and is being capitalized on by the regional rivalries and even hostilities. That being said, it would not only be a pity but also deceptive for all sides if the hardly mobilized push for peace will be allowed to fall victim to the recent events, excluding the human tragedy behind it.