Thousands of Kurds from across Europe travelled to the Paris suburbs yesterday for the politically charged funeral of three of their own killed in a December attack in the French capital.
Buses were chartered to bring people from across France and some neighbouring countries to the ceremony in Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris, local sources said.
Tears and cries of “Martyrs live forever!” greeted the coffins, wrapped in the flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish-controlled Rojava territory in northern Syria.
The huge crowd followed the funeral on giant screens erected in a car park, showing the coffins surrounded by wreaths beneath a portrait of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Police and security volunteers were on duty outside a hall hired for yesterday’s proceedings.
A xenophobic gunman, William Malet, is suspected of killing two men and one woman in a December 23 attack on the Ahmet Kaya Kurdish community centre in Paris’s 10th district.
His victims were Abdurrahman Kizil, singer and political refugee Mir Perwer and Emine Kara, a leader of the Movement of Kurdish Women in France.
Arrested after the shootings and formally charged on December 26, 69-year-old Malet told investigators that he had a “pathological” hatred for foreigners and wanted to “murder migrants”, prosecutors said.
Malet, a retired train driver, had a violent criminal history and had just left detention over a previous incident.
However, many Kurds in France’s 150,000-strong community refuse to believe he acted alone, calling his actions a “terrorist” attack and pointing the finger at a “state sponsor”.
“The anger of the people gathered today has again proven to us how much the Kurdish community believes these murders are political,” said a spokesman for the Democratic Council of Kurds in France (CDKF).
Yesterday’s funeral recalled another held at the same spot almost exactly 10 years ago after three Kurdish activists linked to the PKK were shot dead, also in Paris’s 10th district.
The suspect in the killings died of cancer in pre-trial detention.
The PKK, which has waged an almost four-decade armed struggle for greater rights for Turkiye’s Kurdish minority, is categorised as a terror group by Ankara, Europe and the United States.
Often described as the world’s largest people without a state, Kurds originate in regions that are spread across Turkiye, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
CDKF activists plan a march today in tribute to the December victims, on the street where the shootings took place.
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