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Two Kurdish Women Die in Political Suicides in Germany

March 24, 1994

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Two Kurdish women died after setting fire to themselves to protest German arms sales to Turkey, police said Thursday.

At least seven other Kurds were badly injured after dousing themselves in gasoline while standing in front of flaming tire barricades on German highways this week.

The blockades have led German officials to threaten deportations of Kurdish militants, who are fighting for an autonomous homeland.

″The terror of these groups has reached a new dimension,″ Chancellor Helmut Kohl said at a news conference Wednesday. ″We won’t accept this unacceptable abuse of our hospitality.″

Bedriye Tas, 24, and Nilgun Yildirim, 25, set fire to themselves Monday in a park on the banks of the Rhine in southern Germany. In a letter to friends, the two women said their suicides were protests against German and Turkish policies, Mannheim police spokesman Volker Dressler said.

Hundreds of Kurds have been arrested and more than 100 police officers injured in sit-ins and barricades on German highways since Saturday.

On Thursday, about 30 Kurdish activists peacefully occupied the Munich headquarters of the centrist Free Democratic Party.

They said protests would continue through Sunday, when elections are being held in Turkey. The Kurds say the elections are a sham because Kurdish political leaders have been arrested and Kurdish villages destroyed.

Dereli Cengiz of the Kurdistan Information Bureau in Cologne, a group sympathetic to the Kurdish insurgency, said Kurds were setting fire to themselves out of desperation.

″What else can they do?″ Cengiz said. ″We’ve held peaceful protests for years and things only get worse.″

Authorities believe the protests are organized by the Kurdish Workers’ Party, a guerrilla group in southeastern Turkey that was banned in Germany on Nov. 22.

About a tenth of the 450,000 Kurds living in Germany are sympathizers of the group, Kohl said. Most Kurds in Germany come from Turkey, although Kurds also live in Iraq, Iran and Syria.

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