DIYARBAKIR – In the Turkish city of Diyarbakir tens of thousands of people said goodbye to PKKfounder Sakine Cansiz and two other Kurdish female activists, who were murdered in Paris last week. Her family members who live in Rotterdam were also present. The ceremony was emotional and passed without any incidents.
On Wednesday night the bodies arrived at the airport of Diyarbakir, the biggest city in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of Turkey. Thousands of people came to the airport and accompanied the women to a hospital mortuary. Slogans were shouted and candles were burned, and many people tried to touch the ambulances carrying the bodies. This gathering also passed without any incidents.
At the massive ceremony in Diyarbakir the women’s coffins were at the front of a big square. There were speeches by several Kurdish politicians. They praised the women for their contribution to the Kurdish struggle and called for peace.
Sakine Cansiz founded the PKK in 1978 with leader Abdullah Öcalan and a group of others. In the nineteen eighties and nineties, she spent twelve years in the notorious prison of Diyarbakir, which was known for its cruel tortures. After her release she fought from the mountains on Turkey’s south-eastern border. For the last couple of years she worked for the organisation in Europe.
Sebahat Tuncel, MP for the Kurdish party BDP, praised Cansiz for her struggle for Kurdish and women’s rights. ‘The thousands of people who are here today support that struggle’, she told ANP news agency. ‘Europe has to understand that: the people support the PKK.’
The funeral of Cansiz will be held on Thursday in the province of Tunceli, north of Diyarbakir, where she grew up. The other two women will be buried in Mersin and Elbistan.
Part of Sakine Cansiz’ family lives in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Sakine celebrated New Year’s Eve with them in Rotterdam. Sakine’s niece Tijda Cansiz (20, student) remembers the evening as a nice time with the family. ‘My aunt was a strong, positive, happy woman’, she said. ‘I am very proud of her, and her independence and strength are definitely an inspiration for me.’