Saturday, November 27, 2010

President Barzani’s amnesty to inmates sparks outcry

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President Barzani's amnesty to inmates sparks outcry

Erbil, Nov. 25 (AKnews) – An amnesty issued to 207 prisoners by the president of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani on the occasion of the holy Muslim Eid in mid-November has outraged a number of NGOs and journalists as, according to activists, it includes convicts of honor killings.

grtigaOn Nov. 15 Massoud Barzani ordered the release of 207 inmates from adult reformatory prisons of the Kurdistan Region to be united with their families on the first day of the four-day Eid al-Adha celebrations. However, there were reportedly convicts of honor killings among those covered by the amnesty which angered the NGOs, activists and journalists.

Salih Ahmed, known locally as "Sale Muzalli" because he used an AK-47 to kill his two sisters Mahabad and Jwan out of "honor" was among the inmates released according to the local Rojname daily which is the mouthpiece of the Gorran movement in Kurdistan.

Women's organization have launched a campaign in Sulaimaniyah city, where Gorran enjoys a huge following.

"Women-killers, and those who ,instead of the law, judge and kill humans have to be locked away," Pakhshan Zangana, a female journalist told the daily, "I am against any amnesties and laws that free such people."

The head of the presidential office, Fuad Hussein, announced in mid-November that the prisoners were pardoned "for the public good" and because of their "good behavior" in prison in order "to give them another chance to return to society as ordinary people".

Honor killing has long roots in the conservative Kurdish community. Although statistics reveal a decrease in such cases in recent years, dozens of victims are still killed or subjected to violence each year.

Statistics released by the Directorate of Tracking Violence against Women – an institution set up in 2007 under Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, to trace any acts of violence against women in Kurdistan, - show that in 2009, 75 women were killed in various cases, down from 105 a year earlier.

The figure has further declined as today Prime Minister Barham Ahmed Salih said in a ceremony held in Erbil city's Peshawa hall to mark the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, that as of early 2010 to the present there have been 57 cases of women killed as a result of domestic violence.

President Massoud Barzani has persistently showed his support for the elimination of violence against women, but the activists demand a harsher crackdown.

Women's organizations, NGOs, journalists and activists have signed a memo which was submitted to the presidential office, the parliament of Kurdistan and the prime minister, strongly protesting the release of convicts such as Muzalli.

The signatories to the paper urged the authorities to treat honor killing in a similar way to terror and drug crimes and that truces between families should not lead to the release of killers of women with impunity.

"The release of this criminal and any other convicts of the same crime, who have been covered by the president's amnesty, is contrary to the promises given to people to combat the killing of women" read the memo submitted to the authorities, "we demand that this amnesty not cover these people who have, on any grounds, been convicted of killing women."

In many cases, the families involved in the killing of a woman for honor reconcile in a tribal truce and the killer is forgiven without trial.

Bahra Hama Rash, a journalist, said that those convicted of honor killings may well pose threats to the members of their families again once they are free, therefore "there should be parameters when amnesties are granted. The crimes of the inmates have to be considered" and those involved in killing should not be freed.

Hama Rash believed that the president of the region had granted the amnesty out of his good intentions for public interests, however, "advisors close to him should have better informed him on certain cases".  

"Amnesties should never cover women-killers in any circumstances, because that would only lead to a further widening of the social issues. They might kill others, or this may encourage the crime of killing when others see them go free with impunity."

"They say the man (Muzalli) had reconciled (with his family over the slaughtering of his two sisters), but what has this tribal truce got to do with law?" Lanja Abdullah, an activist and head of the women's organization, Warvin, asked.

According to Iraqi law, said Abdullah, Muzalli should at least be hanged.


Reported by Raber Y. Aziz and Dawan Hadi

Ka/AKnews

Thursday, November 25th 2010 3:26 PM