The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which rules one half of Iraq’s northern Kurdish autonomous zone, is currently facing a wave of popular unrest. Among the greivances are deals the PUK has cut with local tribal leaders respecting their despotic and anti-woman standards of “justice.” This Aug. 12 petition was received from Houzan Mahmoud of the Iraq Freedom Congress:
Woman killers must be punished not released through tribal deals!
To: Kurdish Authorities
To all women, human rights campaigners, labour organisations and individual activists worldwide
Copy to the Kurdistan Regional Government
Copy to the Ministry of Justice in Kurdistan
We at the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (Abroad Representative), heard the shocking news of the release of Saleh Ahmed Sharif (known as Saleh Mzlai), who kidnapped and killed a woman called Mohabad Abdullah in 1999. Her body was found on a Sulaymania street. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) did not punish him but instead chose to release him. Three years later, he committed another crime – this time kidnapping two of Mohabad’s sisters. One of the girls, Joana, was murdered and, her body was found some days later on the street in Sulaymania. At the time of the crimes, Saleh Ahmed’s relatives continued to threaten Mohabad and Joana’s family; consequently, many fled the country to seek asylum in Europe. Following pressure from women’s rights activists in Kurdistan, Saleh Ahmed was detained and ordered to serve a life sentence in prison. He has recently been released due to a tribal deal his family made with the family of Mohabad and Joana.
This tribal deal was made through the PUK’s Social Affairs Committee, under the supervision and with the knowledge of the Ministry of Justice in Kurdistan. It agreed to release Saleh Ahmed, and agreed to give $170,000 to the victim’s family as compensation.
Bring such backwards and anti-women practises into the existing justice system will only pave the way for more killings and kidnappings. Kurdistan’s current justice system is far from perfect, but tolerating these practises will simply reinforce the power of reactionary tribal leaders and ensure that women’s lack of official legal protection continues.
It is worth mentioning that thousands of women have been killed in the last 13 years, and the perpetrators of these crimes are moving around freely because the so-called justice systems’, riddled with corruption and tribalism, have failed to act.
The deal struck to ensure the release of Saleh Ahmed (who was a senior member in PUK) is a clear indication that those who are prominent within the Kurdish elite or fortunate enough to have money can freely kill, rape and kidnap women without being charged or punished.
We the undersigned therefore:
• Condemn and demand criminalisation of tribal deals.
• Demand the criminalisation of all forms of violence against women.
• Demand the punishment of those who commit violence against women under any pretext.
Yours in solidarity,
Houzan Mahmoud & Nasik Ahmed
For further information please contact us:
firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Tel: +447956883001 www.equalityiniraq.com
Abroad Representative of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq OWFI