Murder of Du'a Khalil Aswad
|Du’a Khalil Aswad|
Du’a Khalil Aswad
دعاء خليل أسود
|Died||c. April 7, 2007
Bashika, Ninawa, Iraq
Du’a Khalil Aswad (دعاء خليل أسود)(c. 1989 – c. April 7, 2007) was a 17-year-old Iraqi of the Yazidi faith who was stoned to death in an honor killing. 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. The rumor that the stoning was connected to her alleged conversion to Islam prompted reprisals against Yazidis by Sunnis, including the 2007 Mosul massacre.
Some reports claim that Aswad was murdered for having converted to Islam to marry an Iraqi Sunni Muslim boy. It is disputed whether or not she actually converted to Islam; some reports say the Sunni boyfriend has denied that she had. Other sources instead indicate that Aswad was killed in punishment for being absent from her home one night.
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.
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. Other reports indicate that she was instead given asylum by a local Muslim Sheikh. 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 to one thousand to two thousand men.
Aswad was taken to the town square; according to reports she was stripped naked to symbolize that she had dishonored her family and religion. In the video, though stripped from the waist down, she is wearing an orange sport jacket and black underwear, and at least some of the crowd tries to keep her lower body covered with what looks like another jacket. 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. After her death in the town square, Aswad's body was tied behind a car and dragged through the streets. She was buried with the remains of a dog, to disrespect her. 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."
Response and retaliation
It is believed Aswad's murder sparked, or was used as a pretext for, a reprisal attack on 23 April in Mosul claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, in which 23 Yazidis were killed. The same day also witnessed another reprisal attack claimed by Ansar al-Sunna by a suicide carbomb attack targeted the village of Tel Isqof killing 25 Yazidis and Assyrian Christians. Both her murder and the reprisal were condemned by Amnesty International and by the Kurdistan Regional Government which asked the federal government to investigate.[dead link] Authorities in Northern Iraq have arrested four people in connection with the killing.
The devastating terrorist attacks on the Yazidi towns Kahtaniya and Jazeera in August 2007, allegedly carried out by Sunni Muslims and killing almost 800 civilians are said to have been claimed by the killers to be a response to the stoning.
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