Kurdish Aspect reports on April 7, 2007, Du'a Khalil Aswad, known by many as Doa - a sweet, 17-year-old girl - was dragged out in broad daylight and publicly stoned to death. Her "crime" was to fall in love with an Arab Muslim man. Doa herself had a background in the Kurdish Yazidi faith. Thus she was not allowed to marry someone from outside her "tribe and religious sect".
Hundreds of women from various parts of Kurdistan Region took to the streets of Erbil on Sunday to protest the brutal killing of Du'a Khalil Aswad, a 17-year-old Yazidi girl, and Kurdistan government called for the murderers to be brought to justice.
"We do strongly condemn the killing of women under the pretext of honor and the killing and mutilating of the body of Du'a on April 7, 2007," a statement released by the protesters read.
The rally came as police in Bashiqa, a district northeast of Mosul where the incident took place, said that two arrests have been made in the murder, and four others who have been implicated, including two of the victim's uncles, have escaped.
Around 40 women and feminist organizations from various parts of Kurdistan Region organized the rally.
"Taking revenge on women under the pretext of honor is a terrorist act," read a banner carried by the demonstrators.
The protesters called upon the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to take decisive action regarding the incident, and work to stop honor killings and set a limitation for the power of tribal chiefs.
Women in Iraq and Kurdistan are victimised even in the way death finds them. Each year, hundreds of women are being murdered deliberately by their husbands, brothers, fathers, or - as in Doa's case - by men from their own faith. Women are less than commodities in Kurdish society.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) spokesperson Dr Khaled Saleh stated "The killing of Doa is a great tragedy for her family and the entire Kurdish community. This is a crime for which there is no religious, social or ideological justification. The Kurdistan Regional Government views this crime as a barbaric act. This should be a reminder that there is still a mind-set which we, as individuals, and as a society, have a duty to wipe out.”
The KRG Spokesman went on to say that "punishment of the people who took part in this evil act is the first step towards eradicating such crimes. Everybody who was directly or indirectly involved in the killing of Doa must be punished immediately. The KRG demands that the Iraqi Federal Government institute legal proceedings in the district where the killing was carried out. We offer our full cooperation in dealing with this issue. For the KRG the problem lies in the fact that the district is not a part of the Kurdistan region and is therefore not under KRG jurisdiction."
Dr. Saleh mentioned that the KRG rejected the Iraqi law legalizing honor killing in 2002. He pointed to the 29 convictions for honor killing in Hawler and 11 in Dohuk, adding that there are still a total of 24 cases awaiting trial in the two cities. Dr. Saleh said the KRG believes only a change in the law and severe punishment will not lead to the eradication of such evil acts.
But talk is cheap.
Rebin Rasul Ismael, a human rights activist from Arbil points out, "The current reality shows that human rights conditions (here) are very bad, and I am not optimistic about the future of human rights in Kurdistan and Iraq."
Honor killings, he said, are no longer a few isolated incidents, "but have reached a level that now women are generally under a big threat in Kurdistan."
The UN figures warn of deteriorating living conditions for women in the north. In Arbil province alone 358 women have burnt themselves to death since 2003. Another 218 have tried to do so.
The prime reason is increasing pressure from male members of the family, the UN report says.
The report criticized the Kurdish regional government for its slow response to these acts of violence against women.
The following was taken from Renegade Eye.
Condemn the brutal stoning to death of Doa - a young girl whose only crime was to fall in love
To sign this petition, http://www.petitiononline.com/kurdish/petition-sign.html
Doa was stoned to death in the centre of the town of Bashiqa, Iraqi Kurdistan, in front of hundreds of people and the authorities did not prevent this crime from happening. On the contrary, they were present and paving the way for this horrific crime to be carried out.
Doa was a 17 year old girl from a family of Yazidi faith; she was snatched from her house by some Yazidi men who discovered that she was in love with a Muslim Arab man and had visited him. They stoned her to death in public on 7th April 2007 in the town of Bashiqa.
It is known that women in Kurdistan and Iraq are oppressed. The few rights they do have are very limited and in most cases they are treated as sub-humans.
Killings, suicide, and violence against women are an every day occurrence in this region. Although a crime of this nature is very new to Kurdistan, this is an indication that such crimes against women are now tolerated. Doa’s killers are still free.
The government’s failure to protect women, and enforce laws against criminals, has created a situation where thousands of women become victims of so called “honour killings”. Violence has risen as result of patriarchal and religious traditions.
We strongly condemn this barbaric act, and call upon all human rights and women’s rights organisations, political parties, and activists in Kurdistan and globally to condemn this crime.
In the 21st century, for such crimes to be carried out in broad daylight is not only a shame on society as whole, but most of all, it is a shame on a government that is unable to protect women from such inhumane and backward practices. The stoning of Doa sets a dangerous precedent for more women to become victims of stoning.
We hold the Kurdistan Regional Government responsible for the lives and protection of women in this region, and we believe that the brutalisation and victimisation of women must come to an end.
We the undersigned therefore demand:
That the Kurdistan Regional Government brings the killers to justice and punishes them.
The Kurdistan regional Government should set laws against terror, killings and oppression of women, and punish criminals.
To avoid this barbaric crime from becoming a norm and a practice in Kurdish society, the Kurdistan Regional Government should criminalise stoning to death.
The initiators of this campaign are:
Houzan Mahmoud: Representative abroad of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and campaign coordinator
Raga Rauf: Writer and women’s rights activist and campaign coordinator
Samera Mohammed: Editor of Rasan women’s newspaper in Kurdistan
Yanar Mohammed: President Of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq
Aram Ali: Coordinator of the Kurdish website
Baker Ahmad: Writer and poet
Dler Colnadar: member of executive board of CHAK organisation
Omar Faris: coordinator of a Kurdish website
Dina Nammi: International Campaign against Honour Killings
Amal Almas: (Iraqi Women’s League) Gothenburg -Sweden
Federation of Workers councils and unions in Iraq/ Kurdistan representative
Chro Sabir: Director of Rasan women’s organisation in Kurdistan
Hana Shwan: Journalist and women’s rights activist in Kurdistan
Hamza Abd: The Iraqi Cultural House in Gothenburg-Sweden
To join this campaign or to show your support pleases contact: Campaign Coordinators: Houzan Mahmoud and Rega Rauf. firstname.lastname@example.org Or email@example.com