Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Teenage girl stoned to death in Iraq

Another day and more deaths in Iraq.

This report , of the stoning of a teenage girl in Iraq, stood out for me as particuarly brutal and sickening:

The stoning to death of a teenage girl belonging to the Yazidi religious sect because she fell in love with a Muslim man has led to a spiral of violence in northern Iraq in which 23 elderly factory workers have been shot dead and 800 Yazidi students forced to flee their university in Mosul.

A 17-year-old girl called Doaa Aswad Dekhil from the town of Bashika in the northern province of Nineveh converted to Islam. She belonged to the Yazidi religion, a mixture of Islam, Judaism and Christianity as well as Zoroastrian and Gnostic beliefs. The 350,000-strong Kurdish- speaking Yazidi community is centred in the north and east of Mosul and has often faced persecution in the past, being denounced as "devil worshippers".

On 7 April, Doaa returned home after she had converted to Islam in order to marry a Sunni Muslim who was also a Kurd. She had been told by a Sunni Muslim cleric that her family had forgiven her for her elopement and conversion. Instead she was met in Bashika by a large mob of 2,000 people led by members of her family.

What happened next was captured in a mobile phone video. It shows a dark-haired girl dressed in a red track suit top and black underwear with blood streaming from her face. As she tries to rise to her feet she is kicked and hit on the head with a concrete block.

Armed and uniformed police stand by watching her being killed over several minutes. Many in the crowd hold up their phone cameras to record the scene. Nobody tries to help her as she is battered to death.

Retaliation when it came was savage. On 23 April a bus carrying back workers from a weaving factory in Mosul to Bashika, which has a Christian as well as a Yazidi population, was stopped by several cars filled with unidentified gunmen at about 2pm. They asked the Christians to get off the bus, according to the police account. They then took the bus to eastern Mosul city where they lined up the men, mostly elderly, against a wall and shot them to death.
The revenge killings led to two days of demonstrations in Bashika. Sunni Muslims, also Kurds, feared retaliation. Yazidis say that 204 members of their community have been killed since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Some 800 Yazidi students at Mosul university have since fled to Kurdish cities such as Dohuk where they are safe. They say they were told to convert or die.

Amnesty report it as an 'honour' killing:

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 and girls who are considered by their male relatives and others to have shamed the women'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.

Seems the authorities are choosing to ignore this, perhaps as blatantly as standing by as it happened.
There also seems to be a video of it on the internet as well.

Not seen much on the left about this, but then its not about the 'resistance' is it and of course mustn't be seen to criticise religious groups.

There is nothing 'honourable' in this sickening murder of a young woman .

Update 1: Thanks to a comment from Galloise Blonde highlighting the blog Stop Honour Killings and drawing attention to a small rally .There is a petition on the site. Go and sign it.

Sadly the usual anti war leftie groups did not appear to be there. well its not 'sexy' like 'resistance' fighters is it. Just some young woman that fell in love with a man from the 'wrong' religion. Pic is from the rally.

Update 2 The Stop Honour Killings campaign will be holding a seminar on the 18th May in London in the evening. Unfortuanelty I can't go, in sunny Scotland for a weekend away. I'll put up more info soon.