Iraq: Executing Du'a Khalil's killers is not justice, but a violation of human rights

Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

Statement by Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Abroad Representative:  According to official sources at Ninawa Criminal Court, the four people charged with the stoning of Du'a Khalil Aswad on 7 April 2007 have been sentenced to death. The decision was made on 27 March, just three weeks before the third anniversary of Du'as murder. It is reported that two of the convicted men are Du'a's brothers. Du'a was stoned to death in front of almost 2,000 men; with Iraqi police maintaining "law and order" while the stoning took place. The authorities knew about the atrocity, but did not prevent it.

The International Campaign against the Killing and Stoning of Women in Kurdistan has campaigned tirelessly for the killers to be brought to justice. Our campaign was the first to expose Du'a's murder, and brought great pressure to bear on the Iraqi government and Kurdistan regional government through demonstrations, seminars, conferences and a petition to the Kurdish parliament signed by 16,000 people across the world. We demanded not only the bringing of Du'a's killers to justice, but an end to so-called 'crimes of honour'. But the decision to execute the killers is no justice and not what we want.

Capital punishment is the most horrendous form of punishment. We oppose capital punishment as a form of so-called justice; it will not end honour killings, but only make our society more brutal and violent, conditioning people to accept killing. We do not want to go back to the dark days of the Ba'athist regime, when capital punishment was used to silence people and keep them terrorised. Our society has had enough of violence, terror and oppression. The Ba'ath regime brought back 'honour killings' in the late 80s, allowing men to protect their so-called family honour by murdering women. For decades under both Saddam's dictatorship and the rule of Kurdish government in the north, society has been pushed backward, with anti-women values and norms strengthened and men allowed to carry out violence, killings, rape and brutal discrimination against women.

The current family status law upholds patriarchal, religious and conservative norms which discriminate against women. The government has totally failed to promote equality, women's rights and individual rights and freedoms. They insist on implementing Islamic Sharia law and recognising ethnic, tribal and religious mores instead of a modern civil family law. Our basic problem is a ruling class which divides society on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity and race. This system constantly reproduces violence against women, but executing four men will not solve the problem.

We urge workers', women's and human rights organisations and activists the world over to condemn capital punishment. Laying the foundations for human rights, women's rights and equality is the only solution.

Houzan Mahmoud
Representative Abroad of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq