Thousands rally for funeral of slain Kurdish activists

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:25am EST
 
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By Daren Butler

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Thousands poured onto the streets of Turkey's main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir on Thursday for the funeral of three Kurdish activists killed in Paris, chanting pro-militant slogans as their coffins passed through the crowds.

The three women, including a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), were killed in execution-style shootings in the French capital last week in what many saw as an attempt to derail a nascent peace process between the Turkish state and the guerrillas.

The prospect of an end to three decades of war between the Turkish state and the PKK has gained momentum in recent weeks after the government acknowledged it was talking to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Thousands of cheering supporters were at Diyarbakir airport late on Wednesday as the bodies of PKK member Sakine Cansiz and the two other activists arrived amid tight security.

More than 10,000 gathered early on Thursday in Diyarbakir's Baglar district, a PKK stronghold, as the coffins draped in green cloth and decorated with red carnations were driven slowly through the crowds.

"The martyrs' path is our path. PKK is our party! Long live leader Apo", they chanted, referring to Ocalan, who has been jailed on an island south of Istanbul since his capture in 1999.

Headscarved women and children applauded and waved, while others made a victory sign with their fingers from the windows of apartment blocks. Two young men, their faces concealed by scarves, held aloft the green, red and yellow flag of the PKK.

Many shops in the city were closed in mourning.   Continued...

 
Thousands attend the funeral ceremony of the three Kurdish activists shot in Paris, in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, January 17, 2013. The bodies of the activists, including that of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) co-founder Sakine Cansiz, arrived by plane on Wednesday evening in Diyarbakir. REUTERS/Umit Bektas