Sakine, Fidan, Leyla: Until justice is served

Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez were killed in Paris 11 years ago.

Eleven years ago today, Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez were killed in Paris.

Since then, the Kurds and their friends have marched tirelessly in Paris and throughout France to demand the lifting of defense secrecy from the French authorities and to finally obtain justice for the three activists, their families, their loved ones and the entire Kurdish community.

The TJA, Free Women's Movement, detailed what happened that night and the days that followed in a comprehensive text.

The TJA wrote: "At around 1am on 10 January, their friends, worried about not being able to reach them since the beginning of the afternoon, went to 147 rue La Fayette [where the Kurdistan Information Center, CIK, was located] and saw a light lit on the first floor.

They manage to open the center's door and discover the bodies of Sakine, Fidan and Leyla in the living room. They had been executed with several shots to the head. Half an hour later, police and criminal units arrived on the scene. Shortly after, upon the announcement of the assassination of the three activists, members of the Kurdish community began to gather in front of the CIK headquarters. In the crowd was also Ömer Güney, the alleged perpetrator of this triple assassination, who would be taken into police custody and incarcerated a week later.

At 9 a.m., Manuel Valls, then Minister of the Interior, arrived at the scene of the crime surrounded by a horde of journalists, and went directly to the 1st floor, to the CIK headquarters. Around 9:30 a.m., he declared: 'This is a serious matter, hence my presence. This is an unacceptable crime. The investigation has only just begun under the authority of the prosecution; the services are mobilized to shed light on this completely unbearable act. I also came to express my compassion for the loved ones of these three women. Many people knew the president of the Information Center [Fidan Dogan].'

From 11 January, thousands of Kurds and friends of the Kurdish people marched towards 147 rue La Fayette, in the company of Kurdish deputies Gultan Kisanak and Selahattin Demirtas [in prison since 2016] and numerous representatives of French political organizations and elected officials.

The President of the Republic, François Hollande, described the murder of the three Kurdish activists as 'horrendous', and underlined that Fidan Dogan was known to himself and to many political actors whom she met regularly.

On 12 January 2013, 150,000 demonstrators from all over Europe marched in the streets of Paris to shout their anger and sadness, and to demand that the French authorities shed light on this heinous crime.

On 15 January 2013, the coffins of the three Kurdish activists were transported on the shoulders of their comrades, to the place of the funeral ceremony, in Villiers-le-Bel, where a huge crowd flocked to pay a last tribute to Sakine, Fidan and Leyla.

On 16 January 2013, their remains were welcomed in Diyarbakir, capital of Kurdistan, by hundreds of thousands of people.

The next day, each will be buried in their hometown: Sakine in Dersim, Fidan in Elbistan and Leyla in Mersin."


The TJA wrote this about the investigation on the triple murder: "From 10 January, when the police began to question the entourage of the three Kurdish activists, they seemed to concentrate solely on the track of settling an internal feud. Kurdish associations, however, cooperate actively, providing all the information that may be useful to the investigation.

A few days later, while preparations for the funeral ceremony were underway, Kurdish association leaders discovered the identity of the last person to have seen Sakine Cansiz on 9 January 2013, and asked the police to question him. This is how Ömer Güney will be heard as a witness for the first time on 14 January 2013. He was arrested on January 18 along with his roommate.

On 20 January, an anonymous email addressed to the Paris police headquarters (revealed by the magazine l'Express, in an article of 15 June 2013 entitled Three murders and a Turkish lead) asserts that Ömer Güney is a Turkish agent and gives information about his travels in Turkey, information which will be corroborated by the information appearing on Güney's passport, discovered two months later, hidden behind the radio console of his vehicle.

The public prosecutor, François Molins, then announced, during a press conference, the incarceration of Ömer Güney (31 years old), originally from Sivas, and the release of the other person placed in custody.

In February 2013, the Turkish press revealed that Güney traveled to Turkey three times between August and December 2012. According to his roommates, Güney uses 4 or 5 cell phones which were not seized during the first search. At the urging of Kurdish associations, the police decided to search Güney's apartment more seriously, but had to do it twice. The phones which should have been sealed during the first search were seized a month after the crime.

It was on 12 January 2014 that a sound recording was published on YouTube containing a conversation between Ömer Güney and two people presented as members of the MIT (Turkish Intelligence Service), which now makes the thesis of state crime indisputable. In this recording, Guney is heard describing his assassination plans against several Kurdish activists and political representatives in Europe.

It was only in August 2015, at the end of an investigation which lasted two and a half years, that Ömer Güney was referred to the Assize Court. In the referral order, investigating judge Jeanne Duyé points out Ömer Güney’s 'acquaintances' with MIT. Subsequently, the trial which was initially to be held between December 5 and 16, 2016 was postponed without any reason to the end of January 2017, while Ömer Güney died in December 2016. It is said that he was long suffering from brain cancer, that he was affected by Legionnaires' disease and died of pneumonia.

In March 2017, the families' lawyers filed a complaint against the sponsors, adding new elements to the file which support the identification of certain sponsors.

The executive committee of the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK) revealed in January 2018 important information provided by two senior MIT officials detained by the PKK since August 2017. In particular, it disclosed the identity of the MIT agent responsible for planning assassinations. The latter is Sabahattin Asal who was at the time vice-president of the MIT department responsible for international operations.

He was also part of the delegation sent by the Turkish state to Imrali, at the very beginning of the talks process which began at the end of December 2012, a few weeks before the assassinations. This information corroborates an important element of the French investigation file: the name of Asal appears among the signatories of an MIT document dated November 2012, which mentions preparations for an attack against Sakine Cansiz. This document leaked to the Turkish press in January 2014.

In March 2018, the families filed a civil action complaint based on Ömer Güney's multiple links with MIT. Following this complaint, a new investigation was opened in the triple murder.

In May of the same year, in the verdict rendered following a session on Turkey and the Kurds held in Paris in March 2018, the Permanent People's Tribunal (TPP) considered that 'the hearing made it possible to establish that the Turkish State had committed, organized or protected common law crimes, or state crimes against Kurdish individuals or associations, on its territory and outside its territory. » He underlines in this regard that “the most recent case is that of the murder of three Kurdish activists in Paris, on January 9, 2013: Fidan Dogan, Sakine Cansiz and Leyla Saylemez', the investigation having shown “the involvement of senior officers of the Turkish secret services, MIT”.

In 2020, the judge responsible for investigating the triple assassination case asked the Ministry of the Interior to lift defense secrecy in order to access information in the possession of the DGSI and DGSE concerning the circumstances of the crime. This request has no effect.
On February 16, 2021, former head of Turkish military intelligence Ismail Hakki Pekin provided additional confirmation of the involvement of MIT in the assassination of the three Kurdish women. In a broadcast on CNN Türk, the retired lieutenant general says targeted liquidations must be carried out against PKK leaders in Iraq, Syria and Europe, adding: "We must do something against their elements in Europe. This has already been done once in Paris..."