Saturday, May 19, 2007

More on Du'a Aswad honor killing . Stop honor killing

Four arrested in "honor killing" in northern Iraq
• Two suspects were members of girl's family
• The 17-year-old was dragged from home and stoned to death
• Cell phone video of killing broadcast worldwide

More on CNN TV: Anderson Cooper examines the global reality of honor killings: why they happen and why nobody stops them. Watch tonight, 10 ET, on CNN.
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BAGHDAD, IRAQ (CNN) -- Authorities in northern Iraq have arrested four people in connection with the "honor killing" last month of a Kurdish teen -- a startling, morbid pummeling caught on a mobile phone video camera and broadcast around the world.

The case portrays the tragedy and brutality of honor killings in the Muslim world. Honor killings take place when family members kill relatives, almost always female, because they feel the relatives' actions have shamed the family.

In this case, Dua Khalil, a 17-year-old Kurdish girl whose religion is Yazidi, was dragged into a crowd in a headlock with police looking on and kicked, beaten and stoned to death last month. (Watch the attack, and what authorities are doing about it Video)

Authorities believe she was killed for being seen with a Sunni Muslim man. She had not married him or converted, but her attackers believed she had, a top official in Nineveh province said. The Yazidis, who observe an ancient Middle Eastern religion, look down on mixing with people of another faith.

Each year, dozens of honor killings are reported in Iraq and thousands are reported worldwide, said the United Nations. The practice has been condemned around the world by governments and human rights groups. A yearly vigil protesting honor killings is held in London, England.

Two of the four arrested are members of the victim's family, police in Nineveh province said Thursday. Four others, including a cousin thought to have instigated the killing, are being sought.

The killing is said to have spurred the killings of about two dozen Yazidi men by Sunni Muslims in the Mosul area two weeks later. Attackers affiliated with al Qaeda pulled 24 Yazidi men out of a bus and slaughtered them, a provincial official said.

The violence ratcheted up tensions between Yazids and Muslims in Bashiqa, the victim's hometown, a largely Yazidi city in Nineveh province.

Provincial officials don't think much could have been done to stop the honor killing, but at least three officers are being investigated and could be fired.

"The climate, the religious and social climate is such that people can do that in daylight and that authorities do not intervene," said the spokeswoman for the Organization of Womens' Freedom in Iraq, Houzan Mahmoud.

Also, the top police official in Bashiqa is being replaced.

Opening and closing remark for international conference on Kurdish women for peace and equality

Soraya Fallah International Conference on Kurdish Women for Peace and Equality

Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am privileged to speak today as the Chairperson of this historic conference, as it is indeed the first International Conference on Kurdish women for peace and equality and I am honored that so many incredible people have dedicated their amazing attributes to help bring about this moment. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate all the women in the world on March 8th and wish them continuous success on the road to gender equality. I welcome each and every one of you to this conference and hope that we can achieve what we set out here to do and to each take with ourselves treasonable memories and accomplishments beyond description. To see our dreams shaped into reality, surpassing our expectations and nearing our aspirations is truly a moment of happiness for me and for all those involved in this project. This Conference is dedicated to the memory of our beloved Soraya Serajaddini and we hope this can live up to her dreams and the dreams of all our sisters who have fought for our cause. The human rights movements, the women rights movement, the Kurdish rights movement, have all contributed greatly to the growth of Kurdish women and as stated in the Conference Press release Kurdish women are in an era where they are far more active and liberated than ever before. The fact that Mr. President Masoud Barzani opened this ceremony and Kurdish Regional Government financially and morally sponsored this event shows that there is substantial hope for the growth of Kurdish women. I want to sincerely thank them for giving us that hope. Through their hard work and dedication, Kurdish women are enjoying a glimpse of equality; however they still suffer, are demoralized, inhumanly attacked and violated, restricted, discriminated against, belittled and abused far more than their male counterparts and in the light of the new democratic opportunities we hope to trigger discussions and speeches that could empower these amazing women of tolerance and strength.
When Kurdish National Congress of North America and I set out on this journey we had to answer numerous questions to ourselves and we had to realize that countless times before us men and women have set aside valuable moments of their lives and with their talents and intellect spoke and discussed the matters of human rights and the issues facing those least privileged. Numerous conferences such as the United Nations’ Beijing Conference have been formed to discuss the issues women face everyday around the world. We had to wonder to what extend will our attempt at this discussion, our assembly of distinguished scholars, artists, and politicians be more affective than theirs? How much reason do we have to believe that our efforts will make a difference in the lives of our subjects? Why did we feel the need for yet another gathering in the name of ideas and beliefs that are aspired for every day of our lives, in every corner of our mother earth? To answer such questions would have been to question the mere existence of the suffering and tragedy faced by those whom we are here to speak of and fight for. As long as suffering, injustice, inequality, violence, and physical and psychological deprivation exist there is room for more talk and more discussions and the necessity for continuous efforts by those capable, for those silenced individuals. It has been through dialogue and gatherings that change has taken shape; ideas and the exchange of them have been the catalyst for action. Should we speak? Should we discuss? Should we gather to reflect upon the problems of our people is not the question, can we truly see ourselves as leaders, representatives, and activists if we did not?
Yes, panels have been established in the past to discuss the issues that women face in Kurdistan but that does not mean just as many changes have taken place, that does not mean that we have no more room or urgency to speak of these issues again. Issues that cost this society valuable lives of incredible women on the account of ignorance and apathy, issues ranging from lack of social support and medical and mental assistance, which has led many women to horrific incidents of self mutilation and suicide, to gender inequality on a macro and micro level, honor killings, polygamy, female genital mutilation, public stoning, to issues of the lack of representation in the power force, lack of opportunity in the educational and economical arena and gender discrimination in the job market.

As a Kurd, regardless of gender, one faces difficulties beyond imagination, but to be born a Kurdish woman, despite its honor, is quite a challenging combination. To come to grips with the reality that all odds are against you and there is a rooted lack of compassion for your existence makes this reality intensively painful to accept. Born to a stateless nation statistics and knowledge of a your existence is lost under the dominant state authorities who have no interest in allocating resources to your development and growth and this again is another brutal reality to come to grips with. Although this reality is somewhat different in the state borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, the fundamental common ground is being born to a stateless nation and that by itself creates a vast ocean of similarities in deprivations and discrimination.
The atmosphere of freedom and relative democracy in Southern Kurdistan creates space for Kurdish women and human rights activists to organize themselves and form defense groups to campaign for a better life. In the last 2 decades dozens of Kurdish women’s rights groups have emerged with remarkable strength. Kurdish women have succeeded in raising awareness about their rights and they have brought taboo issues into the pubic arena; they have made themselves heard nationally and internationally. In the Southern Kurdistan Kurdish women participate in politics and important decision making although the numbers are still very few. They bear arms along side their fellow male fighters, as well as work in the professional offices and hold high posts.
Unfortunately, this success does not apply to all the other areas of Kurdistan. Many Kurdish women are still ruled and pressured under male dominant households. Their struggle; however, is far beyond just a patriarchal system. Kurdish women are not just unequal to the males in their society, but they are also not equal to other residing females of the state they are ruled under. In Iran, Turkey and Syria, even if a Kurdish woman can step out of the norms of the society and receive a university education, they are rarely, if ever, permitted to work along side the other women of the dominant race. This creates a highly suffocating atmosphere for Kurdish women who are trying to break the chains of political, social, and economical restrictions.
Another major factor in the struggle of the Kurdish women is the role of religion that has rooted itself in the Kurdish culture. Although the Kurds do not necessarily consider themselves highly religious, Islam, the predominant religion, has influenced their lifestyles. Therefore, Kurdish women have yet another obstacle before them that they are struggling to overcome in order to step out of the roles that are strictly imposed on them. In the course of the struggle for democracy in Kurdistan, the heroic and historic role of Kurdish women has been that of devotion, strong defense of human rights and legendary sacrifices. Despite such faithfulness in the struggle for justice and per severance in their demand for gender equality, the plight of the Kurdish Women remains one that has gone unnoticed, unanswered and unrecognized by the continuously male dominated society of the region and by the world at large.
Our goal is to create an event where men will be engaged in addressing the most challenging issues facing women today in Kurdish society, in the hopes of moving closer to the goal of ensuring the rights and equality to which women are justly entitled. The most important and fundamental improvement we seek for Kurdish women is that their rights become laws: discussed, passed, and implemented in Kurdistan to ensure their safety and growth.
I thank you again for your presence, at this conference. Your attendance adds great value and honor to our discussions and to the objectives of this Conference.

Closing remark
Closing remark for International conference on Kurdish Women for peace and Equality
By: Soraya Fallah
Chairwoman of the Conference

This has been a wonderful opportunity to get together on International Women’s Day to discuss the issues that are close to the heart of Kurdish women. I thank you all for participating in this conference. It has been a fabulous time of fellowship and sharing. I would like to mention some of the sponsors and supporters of this conference, whose help we could not have done without:
-Kurdistan Regional Government,
-Ministry of State for women Affairs (KRG),
this conference could not have taken place without the hard work of two
Conference Coordinating Committees: local committee are: The local committee are: Dr. Jinan qaasim; Dr. saman Shali, Mrs. Shirin Amedi, Mrs. Ronak Raouf, Mrs. Khan Latef, Mrs. Ferda Cemilogu, Mrs. Hamno M. Nakhshabandi, and Miss Sliva Cigerxwin and United State Committee are:Mr. Azad Moradian, Mrs. Jualian Ditty, Dr. Asad Khalany, Dr. Pary Karadaghi, Miss. Clara Moradian, Mr. Tom Ver Plog, Mrs. Elahe Amani
Also,I should let you know that the following organizations are supporting the conference.
-Kurdish Human Rights Watch (KHRW),
-Global Operation and Development (GO&D),
- Kurdish American Education Society (KAES),
-Coalition of Women from Asia and the Middle East (CWAME),
-The Women Intercultural Network ( WIN),
-Women committee of Xabat Organization(Sazmani xebat Komitey jnan,
-Women’s freedom Organization of Kurdistan –Nina
-Al Shrooq society for Iraqi women,Kirkuk
-Kurdish National Assembly of Syria,
-Kurdish American Committee for Democracy in Iran,
-Women Law Network in Kurdistan Region –Iraq, and the
-Voice of Kurdish- America (VOKRADIO.COM).
Message of goodwill from all different organizations and individuals:

Some US. Senators such as Senator Feinstein, Senator Kennedy, and other senators, and all the other organizations and individuals who sent messages of good will and success for our conference such as :
KDPI (Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran),
Komale, Party of Iranian Kurdistan
And technical support Christopher Flick, designer of Conference logo,
All our Kurdish sisters from another country, all researchers who sent their amazing research about Kurdish women and could not participate.
There are many individuals that I can’t name them all, I should heartily thank Dr. Saman Shali for his nonstop work , supporting me, and his high respect for women’s rights.
Finally, the usual disclaimer is proper here. Even though the editorial board has reviewed the papers, the views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily the opinions of the Kurdish National Congress.
At the end I should ask you please submit all your suggestions and resolution on the notebook you received because the committee will submit their recommendation to the KRG and the parliament.
I thank you again and look forward to see you in another conference.

International Conference on Kurdish Women for Peac

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