POSTED: 12:30 p.m. EDT, May 21, 2007
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 highlights the tragedy and brutality of honor killings — where 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.
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.
From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq and Brian Todd.
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