Thousands of Kurds have gathered in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey, for the funeral of three Kurdish activists killed last week in France.
The mourners filled the streets and chanted slogans of solidarity as they marched alongside vehicles carrying the women's coffins, which were flown to Turkey from France on Wednesday.
The three women, Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez, were found shot to death January 10 at the Kurdish Information Center in Paris. Cansiz was a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, an outlawed group that took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey.
Turkey has suggested that the killings are linked to ongoing negotiations between the Turkish government and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, while Kurdish activists say that it might be the work of Turkish extremists.
People attending the funeral told reporters the funeral has brought them together. A resident of Diyarbakir, Ali Elci, expressed sympathy for the Kurdish cause.
“I call on the Kurdish nation to be cautious and stay safe. Kurdish people are mourning and I share their pain.''
Ayla Akat Ata, a pro-Kurdish member of parliament from the Peace and Democracy Party, says the day is one of sorrow, but also of hope.
“Amed (= Kurdish name for Diyarbakir) is a city that has witnessed history. And today it's bidding farewell, and sending a historical figure (Sakine Cansiz) to eternity. This causes sorrow for all of us. But, at the same time, it's a day when we can demand answers and continue our struggle to find the truth.”
Following the funeral, the bodies of the three slain women will be transported to their hometowns for burial.