UN rights chief condemns ‘brutal’ killings by ISIL of women politicians in Iraq

Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

25 September 2014 – The United Nations human rights chief today condemned the recent brutal, cold-blooded slaying by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of human rights defender Sameera Salih Ali Al-Nuaimy, as well as the continuing detention, sexual exploitation and sale of hundreds of women and girls in areas captured by the militant group.

Ms. Al-Nuaimy, a respected lawyer known for her pro bono work and efforts to promote the rights of women, was publicly executed by a masked firing squad in Mosul earlier this week, according to a news release issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“This horrifying public execution – of a courageous woman whose only weapons were the words she used in defence of the human rights of others – lays bare the bankrupt ideology of ISIL and its affiliates,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Al-Nuaimy was detained on 17 September following posts on her Facebook page that were critical of ISIL, including of the “barbaric bombing and destroying of mosques and shrines in Mosul.” She was then “convicted” of apostasy by a so-called court. Her husband and family were prohibited by ISIL from even giving her a funeral.

The High Commissioner noted that Ms. Al-Nuaimy was seized from her home by ISIL fighters and tortured for days before she was killed in cold blood by a squad of “so-called fighters.”

Her execution follows a number of attacks against other prominent women in areas under ISIL control, according to OHCHR. On 22 July, a female candidate in the general election was killed when ISIL or associated armed groups stormed her house in Sderat in Ninewa.

On 23 July, also in Sderat, gunmen broke into the house of another female candidate in the last election for the Ninewa Provincial Council, killed her and abducted her husband. On the same day, another female candidate in the last general election was abducted when gunmen stormed her house in the Sumer area of eastern Mosul. She is still missing.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has received numerous other reports of the execution of women in Mosul and other ISIL-controlled areas, some after perfunctory “trials.” Educated, professional women seem to be particularly at risk.

The High Commissioner also expressed his deep dismay at the situation facing hundreds of captured Yezidi women and girls, as well as some from other ethnic and religious groups, who have reportedly been sold into slavery, forced into marriage and repeatedly raped by ISIL fighters since their home areas were overrun in August.

“Their terrible predicament shames us all as human beings,” he stated. “The full horror of what they are going through is starting to become apparent from the few who have escaped or who have managed to telephone relatives who escaped ISIL’s clutches.”

On 14 August, an announcement by ISIL read out in all Mosul’s mosques ordered women to veil their faces or incur severe punishment. Women were also prohibited from walking publicly without an accompanying male guardian.

According to sources contacted by UN human rights staff, the regulations are being strictly monitored at the entrance of hospitals and other health facilities in Mosul, and the number of health staff has significantly dwindled as a result. There are also reports of beatings of women who resisted these restrictions.

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