Kurds, Women and Revolutionaries: Sakine, Fidan, Leyla

This is a murder which concerns the very democratic and justice values professed by Europe.

On January 9, 2013, PKK founding member Sakine Cansiz, KNK Paris representative Fidan Doğan and Kurdish Youth Movement member Leyla Şaylemez were brutally murdered in Paris. 

Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez were hit in a place they considered safe, the office Fidan was going to everyday to do her job: a meticulous, diplomatic work to get French politicians aware and informed on the crime and repression against Kurds.

Three women, three generations of Kurdish women committed at different levels and in different fields tirelessly working both to denounce the persecution of Kurds and for a path toward a just and lasting peace through dialogue.

Both issues - exposing the violence against a people of 40 millions and working for peace - were the target of those who ordered the murder.

Kurds have been demonstrating for seven years to prevent this vicious murder from being forgotten or covered up. They cannot be left alone because this is a murder which concerns the very democratic and justice values professed by Europe.

This is a murder which concerns Europe not just because it was committed in a European city but also because it proved that there are those who - in Europe - feel safe to act knowing they would benefit or some kind of impunity. 


Sakine Cansız, a co-founder of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) was born in the province of Dersim in 1957. Having been active in the student youth movement in Elazığ for long years, Cansız joined the Kurdish revolutionary movement in 1976.

Cansız, a leading figure in the struggle against fascist circles in Elazığ, was mainly active in the neighborhoods of Fevzi Çakmak and Yıldızbağları. By joining political works in and around Dersim in 1978, Cansız became fully involved in the revolutionary movement after that time.

After attending the PKK Congress on 27 November 1978, Cansız was arrested in Elazığ and sent to prison together with a group of friends. She was subjected to heavy torture in the period of the 12 September military coup in 1980. She was released in 1991.

Soon after her release, she continued to take an active part in revolutionary activities in West and South Kurdistan.

After many years of struggle on Kurdistan mountains, Cansız went to Europe where she started to lead the Kurdish women’s organization. She was one of the inspiring and prominent women who made great contributions to the association and organization of Kurds in diaspora.


Doğan, one of the two other Kurdish women killed in Paris, was born in the district of Elbistan (Maraş) on 17 January 1982. As a daughter of an immigrant family in Europe, she grew up in France.

Doğan, who took a strong interest in Kurdistan Freedom Struggle since her childhood, started to take an active part in revolutionary works in Europe as of 1999. Besides her works which mainly focused on youth and women, Doğan also took part in diplomacy activities in Europe as of 2002. She was both a member of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) and Paris representative of the establishment.


Leyla Şaylemez, daughter of a Yazidi family from Diyarbakır's Lice district, was born in the southern province of Mersin. She spent her childhood here until her family moved to Germany in 90's.

She had been studying at the Department of Architecture for one year when she joined the Kurdistan Freedom Struggle. After 2006, she started to take an active part in many European cities, particularly in Berlin, Cologne, Hannnover, Frankfurt and Swiss city of Basel.

After spending one and a half year in Kurdistan in 2010, she returned to Paris where she had been conducting works since then.