Executing Du'a Khalil's Killers is Not Justice, But a Violation of Human Rights

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Diana Duarte, Media Coordinator
Phone: +1 212 627 0444
Email: media@madre.org

Executing Du'a Khalil's Killers is Not Justice, But a Violation of Human Rights

Statement by MADRE partner organization Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), Representative Abroad, Houzan Mahmoud.

WASHINGTON - 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.

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MADRE is an international women's human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women's organizations worldwide to address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic development, education, and other human rights. MADRE provides resources, training, and support to enable our sister organizations to meet concrete needs in their communities while working to shift the balance of power to promote long-term development and social justice. Since we began in 1983, MADRE has delivered nearly 25 million dollars worth of support to community-based women's organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Balkans, and the United States. For more information about MADRE, visit our website at www.madre.org.

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