Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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

Statement by Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Abroad Representative


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

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 and 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

houzan2007@yahoo.com www.equalityiniraq.com

Friday, March 05, 2010

Remember Du'a public seminar in London

Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq is hosting a seminar to remember Du’a Khalil Aswad who was stoned to death in Iraqi Kurdistan in April 2007

This event is sponsored by the Centre for Gender Studies (School of Oriental and African Studies SOAS-university of London)
Date: 25 March 2010Time: 5:00 PM
Finishes: 25 March 2010Time: 7:00 PM
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G52

Nelida Fuccaro
Nadje Al-Ali
Houzan Mahmoud
Heather Harvey will be chairing the meeting.

On the third anniversary of the stoning of Du’a Khalil Aswad to death in public and in condemnation of all forms of violence against women join us in this public seminar to remember Du’a and all women around the world who were killed in so- called honour killings.

On the 7th of April 2007 Du'a Khalil Aswad was brutally stoned to death in front of 2000 men, the killers included her uncle and some of her closest relatives in the Town of Bashiqa. The crime was a so-called 'honour' killing; the event outraged the world, as the perpetrators filmed the carnage on their mobile phones, which footage found its way onto the internet, where the world could see the murderous delight of the crowd and the cooperation of security forces. Despite a worldwide outrage at this act, and national protests to pressurize both Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Governments to bring killers to justice, after one year of this crime, they were released and an amount of 4 million Iraqi dinars were paid to Du’a Khalils family to keep them silent about it.

Speakers' Biographies:

Nelida Fuccaro lectures modern Middle Eastern History at SOAS and she is a specialist on Kurdish, Iraqi and Persian Gulf history. She has published on ethnicity, nationalism and urban history and she is currently writing a history of urban violence in the modern Middle East. She is the author of ' The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq' (IB Tauris, 1999) and of 'Histories of City and State in the Persian Gulf: Manama since 1800' (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Nadje Al-Ali is Reader in Gender Studies and Chair of the Centre for Gender Studies, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Her main research interests revolve around gender theory; feminist activism; women and gender in the Middle East; transnational migration and Diaspora mobilization; war, conflict and reconstruction. Her publications include what kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (co-authored with Nicola Pratt) (2009, University of California Press) and Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present (2007, Zed Books). Her most recent book (co-edited with Nicola Pratt) is entitled Women & War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives (Zed Books, 2009). Nadje Al-Ali is an elected board member of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS), a member of the Feminist Review collective, and a member of the editorial board of The Middle East in London linked to the London Middle East Institute (LMEI). Last year, she started the SOAS pathfinder programme for female academic refugees at the Centre for Gender Studies. She is also a founding member of Act Together: Women’s Action for Iraq and a member of Women in Black UK.

Heather Harvey: has over 15 years experience in the UK and abroad in the voluntary and public sectors. She has specialised in equality, development and human rights and particularly women's human rights. Her work has included 4 years in remote rural regions of Mali and Zimbabwe, 3 years in the foreign office forced marriage unit and now 4 years in her current post as stop violence against women campaign manager at Amnesty International UK.

Houzan Mahmoud is a political activist from Iraqi Kurdistan. She is the representative abroad of Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq. Occasional writer for UK publications including The Independent, The Guardian, The Tribune, The Newstatsman and others. Houzan led many campaigns internationally, including campaigns against the rape and abduction of women in Iraq, International Campaign against Killing and Stoning of women in Kurdistan, and campaign to remove articles allowing Islamic Sharia law in Kurdistan and Iraqi constitution. Houzan has written many articles about the situation of women in Iraq, Kurdistan and Middle East, which have been translated into and published in many languages. She appears as a commentator on various TV programs and international media outlets on the situation in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Organizers: Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and the Centre for Gender Studies (SOAS)

Contact emails: N.S.Al-Ali@soas.ac.uk and houzan2007@yahoo.com
Tel: 07534264481 www.equalityiniraq.com

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Remember Du'a public seminar in London

My talk at Yorkshire, and humber Trade Union Congress's annual conference in Leeds on 20/02/2010

My talk at Amnesty International Guildford branch on 01/03/2010 on the situation in Iraq and women's rights