Killing of Kurds in Paris 'an Assassination'

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Paris is also a hub for activists and dissidents from all over the world. Three of those activists were murdered last night. All three were Kurdish women and activists for the PKK, that's the militant group that's been fighting for Kurdish rights in Turkey for decades. The US and Turkey called the PKK a terrorist group. Christopher Dickey is the Paris Bureau Chief for Newsweek. Christopher, tell us about these women and now they died.

Christopher Dickey: Well, I think the most interesting of the women is a founder of the PKK, who has been very close to the most famous founder and head of the organization, Abdullah Ocalan, for many years. What's interesting about her and about this whole situation is that only yesterday it was announced at Ocalan, who's in prison in Turkey on an island off the coast of Turkey, had reached an agreement for the roadmap to end the 30-year old insurgency there. So there's all kinds of questions about whether this murder was in some way linked to that deal, and if so, who had the motives to carry it out? And who had the skills to carry it out because it looks like it was a pretty professional hit.

Werman: Right, and with silencers used on a pistol allegedly, it sounded very cloak and dagger. Who are the likely suspects?

Dickey: If you talk to Kurdish activists, they're trying to point the finger if not at the government in Ankara, maybe at some factions of the government in Ankara or in the military in Ankara who want to undermine this peace initiative. It's also possible that there were dissident groups within the PKK who thought it might be useful to get rid of these women, and maybe even that people who were in favor of the peace settlement thought that the main one of these women would be a more problem for them. It's that kind of complicated Middle Eastern conspiracy theory that just abounds after an event like this, but I think there's no question that it was an assassination and in fact, it's already been called that by the French interior minister.

Werman: Chris, is it me or is there a lot of this international intrigue and occasional violence in Paris, or have I just seen too many Jason Bourne movies?

Dickey: Well, I think one reason that those Jason Bourne movies take place in Paris is because it's a very beautiful place that does have a very great deal of intrigue. I mean over the years there have been a number of people assassinated in Paris by various factions settling scores. Back in the very early 1980s the Iranian government, the Revolutionary government was carrying out a systematic campaign of murder in the streets of Europe, and a lot of those murders took place in Paris. Even before that you had the Israelis killing people that they thought were in some way connected with the Munich Olympics massacre of 1972 here in Paris. So there is a sort of long grim tradition of murder linked to the Middle East here in Paris.

Werman: Why is that historically? Is there a reason for Paris being the center of such stuff?

Dickey: Well, I think because it is a, it is a city that has taken lots of exiles and lots of, lots of people who are not conspiring against the French government, but maybe conspiring against other governments or other factions around the world. And it's certainly not a place where it's easy to get a gun. It's certainly not a place that doesn't have good police work, but these people are here. They're important and at some point dictators, tyrants or other factions just decide it's time to try and get rid of them and this is where they are.

Werman: Christopher Dickey, head of Newsweek's Paris office. Thank you very much.

Dickey: Thank you.