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Iraq: ‘Honour Killing’ of teenage girl condemned as abhorrent

17-year-old Kurdish girl stoned to death

Amnesty International has condemned as “abhorrent” the stoning to death of a girl in a reported “honour killing” in northern Iraq.

The girl, Du’a Khalil Aswad, aged about 17 and from the minority Kurdish Yezidi religious group, was stoned to death last month (on or around 7 April), apparently as punishment for her relationship with a Muslim teenager.

Du’a Khalil Aswad’s murder is said to have been committed by relatives and other Yezidi men because of her relationship with a Sunni Muslim boy and her absence from her home for one night. Some reports suggested that she had converted to Islam, but others deny this. She was killed by a group of eight or nine men in the presence of a large crowd in the town of Bashika, near the city of Mosul, northern Iraq.

Initially, she was reportedly given shelter in the house of a Yezidi tribal leader in Bashika, but her killers stormed the house, took her outside and stoned her to death. Her death by stoning, which lasted for some 30 minutes, was recorded on video film, which was then widely distributed on the internet. The film reportedly shows that members of local security forces were present but failed to intervene to prevent the stoning or arrest those responsible.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This young girl’s murder is truly abhorrent and her killers must be brought to justice.

“Unless the authorities respond vigorously to this and any other reports of crimes in the name of “honour”, we must fear for the future of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Iraq.”

While the boy in this case is reportedly now in hiding for his own safety, Du’a Khalil Aswad’s death has triggered further killing. In an apparent act of retaliation, some 23 Yezidi workers were attacked and killed on 22 April, apparently by members of a Sunni armed group. The Yezidis, reportedly all men, were travelling on a bus between Mosul and Bashika when the vehicle was stopped by gunmen, who made the Yezidis disembark and then summarily killed them.

Amnesty International condemns in the strongest terms both the murder of Du’a Khalil Aswad and the subsequent murders of the Yezidi men, and is calling on the Iraqi authorities to take immediate steps to identify and bring to justice, through fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty, the perpetrators of these killings.

The organisation is also calling on the Iraqi authorities to investigate whether law enforcement officials were present but failed to intervene to prevent Du’a Khalil Aswad’s death by stoning, and to take urgent, concrete measures, including through legislative reforms, to protect those at risk of becoming victims of so-called “honour crimes.”

There are frequent reports of "honour crimes" in Iraq - in particular in the predominantly Kurdish north of the country. Most victims of "honour crimes" are Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls who are considered by their male relatives and others to have shamed the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's families by immoral behaviour. While the Kurdish authorities introduced legal reforms to address “honour killings” they have, however, failed to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such crimes.

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