Thousands rally for funeral of slain Kurdish activists

Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:16am EST
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By Daren Butler

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Kurds poured onto the streets of the Turkish city of Diyarbakir on Thursday for the funeral of three Kurdish activists killed in Paris, chanting slogans as coffins passed through the crowds.

The three women, including a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), died last week in execution-style shootings which many saw as an attempt to derail a nascent peace process between Ankara and the guerrillas after three decades of conflict.

Hopes of an end to the war have grown in recent weeks after the government acknowledged it was talking to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Diyarbakir's Baglar district, a PKK stronghold, drew massive crowds as the coffins, draped in green cloth and decorated with red carnations, were loaded onto hearses and driven slowly through the streets.

The bodies of PKK member Sakine Cansiz and the two other activists arrived in Turkey's main Kurdish city amid tight security late on Wednesday.

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

Headscarved women and children applauded and waved, while others made victory signs 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.


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