Murder of Du'a Khalil Aswad

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Du'a Khalil Aswad
Du'a Khalil Aswad.jpg
Du'a Khalil Aswad
دعاء خليل أسود
Bornc. 1989
Diedc. 7 April 2007 (aged 17)

Du'a Khalil Aswad (دعاء خليل أسود) (c. 1989 – c. 7 April 2007) was a 17-year-old Iraqi girl of the Yazidi faith who was stoned to death in Bashiqa, Ninawa, northern Iraq in early April 2007, the victim of an honor killing. It is believed that she was killed around 7 April 2007, but the incident did not come to light until video of the stoning, apparently recorded on multiple cell phones, appeared on the Internet.[1] The rumor that the stoning was connected to her alleged conversion to Islam prompted reprisals against Yazidis by Sunnis, including the 2007 Mosul massacre.[2][3]


Some reports claim that Aswad was murdered for having converted to Islam to marry an Iraqi Sunni Muslim boy.[4] Other sources instead indicate that Aswad was killed in punishment for being absent from her home one night.[5]

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 Yazidi sheikh.

— Freedom Lost by Mark Lattimer, The Guardian, 13 December 2007[6]

Asylum and return[edit]

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.[5] Other reports indicate that she was instead given asylum by a local Muslim Sheikh.[1] 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[6] to one thousand[1] to two thousand men.[7]


Aswad was taken to the town square;[6] 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 large chunks of rock or concrete on her head.[1] After her death in the town square, Aswad's body was tied behind a car and dragged through the streets.[6] She was buried with the remains of a dog, to disrespect her.[8] 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."[6]

Response and retaliation[edit]

A protest in Arbil against Aswad's killing attracted hundreds of Kurds who called for an end to honor killings.[9][10]

It is believed Aswad's murder sparked, or was used as a pretext for, a reprisal attack in Mosul on 22 April[11] in which 23 Yazidis were killed[3] and for which the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility.[12] The same day also witnessed another reprisal attack, claimed by Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna, of a suicide car bomb that targeted the village of Tel Isqof, killing 25 Yazidis and Assyrian Christians.[13][14]

Both Aswad's murder and the reprisal were condemned by Amnesty International[5] and by the Kurdistan Regional Government which asked the federal government to investigate.[dead link][15] Authorities in Northern Iraq have arrested four people in connection with the killing.[citation needed]

The devastating terrorist attacks on the Yazidi towns Kahtaniya and Jazeera in August 2007,[2] carried out by Sunni Muslims and killing at least 800 and wounding another 1,500 people,[16] are said to have been claimed by the killers to be a response to the stoning.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ahmady, Kameel; Mina Rojdar (25 April 2007). "Video Captures Stoning of Kurdish Teenage Girl". Assyrian International News Agency. Archived from the original on 19 May 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2007.
  2. ^ a b Survivors of bombs left to die in rubble by Ayhem Omar, The Times, 19 August 2007
  3. ^ a b "Yazidis Ask Iraqi Government for Protection" Archived 2007-05-12 at the Wayback Machine 23 April 2007 (retrieved 7 May 2007).
  4. ^ "Iraq: Amnesty International appalled by stoning to death of Yezidi girl and subsequent killings". Amnesty International. 27 April 2007. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Iraq: 'Honour Killing' of teenage girl condemned as abhorrent" Archived 2017-10-07 at the Wayback Machine. Amnesty International. 2 May 2007, Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e Lattimer, Mark (13 December 2007). "Freedom Lost" Archived 2016-03-24 at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian.
  7. ^ "Stoning to death of girl provokes wave of killings" Archived 2007-05-20 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  8. ^ "Honour Killing” Sparks Fears of New Iraqi Conflict Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine Institute for War & Peace Reporting (retrieved 21 May 2007)
  9. ^ Kurdistan: Demonstration against public stoning Archived 2010-01-10 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved 21 May 2007)
  10. ^ Yazidi girl's murder sparks widespread condemnation Archived 2007-05-15 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved 21 May 2007)
  11. ^ Amnesty International (27 April 2007). Iraq: Amnesty International appalled by stoning to death of Yezidi girl and subsequent killings Archived 11 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Press release. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  12. ^ "دولة العراق الإسلامية, تنفيذ حكم الله في اليزيديين عبدة الشيطان ثأرا للشهيدة دعاء خليل (رحمها الله) (2007)". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  13. ^ استشهاد أكثر من خمس وعشرين شخصا في انفجار تللسقف. Zahrira (in Arabic). 23 April 2012. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  14. ^ "ansar el-sunnah, martyrdom operation in iraq". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  15. ^ "Statement: KRG condemns murder of Dua Khalil Aswad" Archived 2014-10-29 at the Wayback Machine, 1 May 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  16. ^ Cave, Damien; Glanzaug, James (22 August 2007). "Toll in Iraq Bombings Is Raised to More Than 500". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 19 September 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.

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