On or about this date one year ago, a 17-year-old Kurdish Yazidi (alternatively, Yezidi) girl was stoned to death by her own community for falling in love with a Muslim boy.
Details on exactly how Du’a Khalil Aswad came to her end are slightly unclear: whether or not she converted to Islam, for instance, and whether she was lured to her death or simply taken by force.
What is blood-chillingly plain is the end itself — a mob “honor killing,” carried out publicly by (at least in part) men of her family, and anachronistically filmed with cell phones and therefore soon to rocket around the Internet. The existence of this video is what makes this incident notable to the wider world.
Caution: This video contains graphic footage. We have issued this warning before in these pages, but what follows here is of a different character: this is a powerless child, communally beaten to death while she pleads for help, recorded from a couple meters’ distance by someone (one of many, one can see) who felt filming was the most pressing possible occupation of his time at this moment. It’s exceedingly violent, exceedingly personal and exceedingly recent. Even at that, this is only an excerpt of a half-hour ordeal.
The fact that this video is hosted by Spiked Humor and comes with the associated teaser link adds an unwanted layer of perversity, but YouTube has repeatedly censored it; it takes some digging (this clip turned up here; a longer one can be downloaded here) to find any extended clip.
So, to repeat: This video contains extraordinarily graphic footage.
This is, to be sure, borderline as an execution — although it is one community’s ritual slaying in judgment, which is an uncomfortably close definition. Whatever one calls it, it apparently prompted a retaliatory massacre of Yazidis by Sunni gunmen,* and some months later, the deadliest suicide bombing of the American occupation.
It has also prompted at least some agitation for addressing the continued existence of honor killings especially in northern Iraq. Arrests for carrying out this killing were reported last spring, but I have been unable to find any subsequent report indicating a trial, conviction, acquittal or release.
** Although the existence of that context for the latter massacre was immediately reported, the video itself didn’t reach a worldwide audience until some days afterwards.
Update: Honor killing activists remember Aswad on the anniversary of her death here.