Rally of Kurds in Villiers-le-Bel (Val-d’Oise), January 3, 2023, in tribute to the three Kurds killed in a racist shooting in Paris before Christmas (AFP / JULIEN DE ROSA)
Between sadness and slogans, several thousand members of the Kurdish community gathered Tuesday in Villiers-le-Bel (Val-d’Oise) for the highly political funeral of the three Kurds killed in the middle of Paris before Christmas, an attack which they contest the racist character and which they attribute to Turkey.
Wrapped in the flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Rojava, Kurdish territory of Syria, the coffins of the three deceased, two men and a woman, were greeted by a guard of honor, tears and cries of “martyrs are eternal!”
Organized in a party hall rented for the occasion, the funeral was attended by a dense crowd – around 10,000 people throughout the day, according to a police source.
Coming from the four corners of France and Europe aboard specially chartered buses, the assembly generally had to content itself with following the ceremony on giant screens installed in a parking lot.
After many political speeches, the community paid a last tribute to Abdurrahman Kizil, Mir Perwer, a Kurdish political refugee singer, and Emine Kara, head of the Kurdish Women’s Movement in France, who were shot dead on December 23 in the Xe capital district.
Eyes reddened, tears streaming down their cheeks, thousands of anonymous people marched for almost an hour in front of the coffins to lay a rose there, under a portrait of Abdullah Öcalan, the historic leader of the PKK imprisoned in Turkey.
Members of the Kurdish community gather on January 3, 2023 in Villiers-le-Bel in front of the coffins of the three Kurds killed in Paris before Christmas (AFP / Bertrand GUAY)
“We’re here because it’s our duty, because it’s a struggle that our parents had for years and that we intend to continue,” Celik, a 30-year-old woman, told AFP. did not want his surname to be cited for security reasons.
For many Kurds, chance is not possible in this case. Refusing to believe the version of a sniper with racist motivations, they denounce a “terrorist” act and implicate Turkey.
– “Why the Kurds?” –
Members of the Kurdish community attend the funeral of the three Kurds killed in Paris before Christmas on January 3, 2023 in Villiers-le-Bel ( AFP / JULIEN DE ROSA )
“The anger of the people gathered today (…) has once again proven to us to what extent the Kurdish community thinks that these assassinations are political assassinations, terrorist assassinations orchestrated by Turkey”, hammered in front of the press Agit Polak, spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Council of France, rejecting the version of the Paris prosecutor’s office.
The community’s suspicions are all the more acute since ten years ago, almost to the day, three Kurdish activists were murdered in the same 10th arrondissement of Paris. A Turkish national, suspected of having acted on behalf of Ankara’s intelligence services, died of cancer in 2016 in custody before his trial.
The three victims honored on Tuesday were shot dead in front of the Kurdish cultural center Ahmet-Kaya on rue d’Enghien. The shooter, William Malet, was disarmed and arrested shortly after.
Members of the Kurdish community carry portraits of the three victims of the shooting in the rue d’Enghien in Paris, during their funeral in Villiers-le-Bel (Val-d’Oise), on January 3, 2023 (AFP / Bertrand GUAY)
Before the investigators, the 69-year-old man, already known to justice for acts of violence and who had just come out of pre-trial detention for another case, expressed his “hatred of foreigners (…) pathological” and said he wanted to “murder migrants”, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.
Indicted on December 26 for murder and attempted murder on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nation or religion, this retired train driver was imprisoned.
“They say he didn’t like foreigners, but why the Kurds, why not the Arabs? We are a discreet people. We come to France and we get killed!” Was surprised to AFP Mizgine, a 24-year-old Kurd who came to the funeral with her baby.
Shortly before 4:00 p.m., the crowd carried the three coffins in a final procession in the street, accompanying them with slogans to the glory of the PKK, before dispersing calmly.
A woman throws a flower at a vehicle carrying the body of one of the three Kurds killed in Paris shortly before Christmas on January 3, 2023 during their funeral in Villiers-le-Bel ( AFP / JULIEN DE ROSA )
Loaded aboard vans with smoked windows, the bodies headed for Roissy airport, from where they will fly to be buried in the Middle East.
A white march will be held on Wednesday rue d’Enghien at the scene of the tragedy. And a “great march” of the Kurdish community, initially planned for the tenth anniversary of the death of PKK militants, will leave Saturday from the Gare du Nord in Paris.