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Du’a Khalil Aswad

Du’a Khalil Aswad
Born 1989 or 1990
Died c. April 7, 2007
Bashika, Ninawa, Iraq
Nationality  Iraq
Known for 2007, murdered by stoning

Du’a Khalil Aswad (دعاء خليل أسود)(c. 1989 or 1990 – c. April 7, 2007) was a 17-year-old Iraqi Kurd of the Yazidi faith who was stoned to death in an honor killing.[1] It is believed that she was killed around April 7, 2007, but the incident did not come to light until video of the stoning, apparently recorded on a mobile phone, appeared on the Internet.[2] The rumor that the stoning was connected to her alleged conversion to Islam prompted heavy reprisals against Yazidis by Sunni extremists, including the 2007 Mosul massacre.[3][4]

Contents

Motive

Some reports claim that Aswad was murdered for having converted to Islam to marry an Iraqi Sunni Muslim boy.[1][5] It is disputed whether or not she actually converted to Islam; some reports say the Sunni boyfriend has denied that she had.[1] Other sources instead indicate that Aswad was killed in punishment for being absent from her home one night.[6]

According to a reporter who interviewed Yazidi sources on site,

After Du'a's death, the international media widely repeated a claim made on a number of Islamic extremist websites that she had been killed because she converted to Islam, but local reports do not concur. Some people tell me she had run away with her Muslim boyfriend and they had been stopped at a checkpoint outside Mosul; others say she had been seen by her father and uncle just talking with the boy in public and, fearing her family's reaction, they had sought protection at the police station. Either way, the police handed Du'a into the custody of a local Yezidi sheikh.
Freedom Lost by Mark Lattimer, The Guardian of London, December 13, 2007[7]

Asylum and return

Some news agencies reported that Aswad was being sheltered by a Yazidi tribal leader in Bashika in fear of her life until her family persuaded her that she had been forgiven and could return home.[6] Other reports indicate that she was instead given asylum by a local Muslim Sheikh.[2] It is not known whether the same members of her family that convinced her to return home were responsible for her death. It is not clear from the video whether she was ambushed while returning to her home, or if the mob stormed her home and dragged her into the street. Estimates of the number of attackers range from hundreds[7] to one thousand[2] to two thousand[8] men.

Stoning

Stills from the video of the stoning

The incident took place in Bashika, a town in Ninawa Governorate, and was filmed on mobile phones and widely distributed throughout the Internet.[9]

Aswad was taken to the town square[7] and although reports at the time alleged that she was stripped of her clothing down to her undergarments[2] to symbolize that she had dishonored her family and religion,[2] this claim is not supported by videos of her stoning as she can clearly be seen still wearing a sport jacket and skirt during her ordeal. During the stoning, which lasted approximately 30 minutes, Aswad can be seen in the video attempting to sit up and calling for help as the crowd taunts her and repeatedly throws a large chunk of rock or concrete on her head.[2] A man can then be heard declaring "Kill her!" Finally, as she lay face down, an unidentified man steps up and throws what appears to be a concrete block to the back of her head.

After her death in the town square, Aswad's body was tied behind a car and dragged through the streets.[7] She was buried with the remains of a dog, allegedly to demonstrate that she was worthless.[10] Eventually, her body was "exhumed and sent to the Medico-Legal Institute in Mosul so that tests could be performed to see whether she had died a virgin, results had then come back that confirm that she was in fact still a virgin."[7] An autopsy revealed that she died of a fractured skull and spine.[11]

Response and retaliation

It is believed Aswad's murder sparked a reprisal attack in Mosul, in which 23 Yazidis were killed.[4] Both her murder and the reprisal were condemned by Amnesty International[6] and by the Kurdistan Regional Government which asked the federal government to investigate.[12] Authorities in northern Iraq have arrested four people in connection with the killing.

The stoning is also said to have prompted the devastating terrorist attacks on the Yazidi towns Kahtaniya and Jazeera in August 2007[3], carried out by Sunni extremists and killing almost 800 civilians.

A protest of Aswad's killing in Arbil attracted hundreds of Kurds who called for an end to honor killings.[13][14]

References

  1. ^ a b c "The moment a teenage girl was stoned to death for loving the wrong boy" (in English). World news. Daily Mail. 2007-05-03. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=452288&in_page_id=1811. Retrieved 2007-05-21.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ahmady, Kameel; Mina Rojdar (2007-04-25). "Video Captures Stoning of Kurdish Teenage Girl" (in English). Assyrian International News Agency. http://www.aina.org/news/20070425181603.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-20.  
  3. ^ a b Survivors of bombs left to die in rubble by Ayhem Omar, The Times, August 19, 2007
  4. ^ a b "Yazidis Ask Iraqi Government for Protection" April 23, 2007 (retrieved May 7, 2007).
  5. ^ Iraq: Amnesty International appalled by stoning to death of Yezidi girl and subsequent killings Amnesty International. April 27, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c Iraq: 'Honour Killing' of teenage girl condemned as abhorrent (May 2, 2007). Amnesty.org.uk. Retrieved May 7, 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d e Freedom Lost by Mark Lattimer, December 13, 2007 in The Guardian newspaper, London.
  8. ^ "Stoning to death of girl provokes wave of killings". Retrieved May 19, 2007.
  9. ^ Video footage of Iraqi girl's stoning released on Internet The Brunei Times, 6 May 2007 (retrieved 7 May 2007).
  10. ^ "Honour Killing” Sparks Fears of New Iraqi Conflict Institute for War & Peace Reporting (retrieved 21 May 2007)
  11. ^ Kurdish Teenager Stoned To Death Near Mosul Robert Lindsay (retrieved May 21, 2007)
  12. ^ "Statement: KRG condemns murder of Dua Khalil Aswad", May 1, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2007.
  13. ^ Kurdistan: Demonstration against public stoning (Retrieved May 21, 2007)
  14. ^ Yazidi girl's murder sparks widespread condemnation (Retrieved May 21, 2007)
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