- The Honorable Navanethem PillayUN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Ms. Zainab Al-SuwaijAmerican Islamic Congress Executive Director
- M. Zuhdi JasserChairman, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Sign Petition to Protest Brutal Murder of 16 Year Old Turkish Girl and Other “Honor” Killings
As described in Teen Buried Alive for Chatting with Boys (Change.org 2/05/10), sixteen year old Medine Memi was murdered by her father and grandfather in Kahta, Turkey. She was buried alive as punishment for the "crime" of having been seen talking to boys. An autopsy found soil in her stomach and lungs and no sign of narcotics or poison in her blood, which indicate that she was alive and fully conscious when buried.
According to official statistics, there are over 200 "honor" killings in Turkey per year, almost half of all the murders take place. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women are killed each year for allegedly dishonoring their families, probably an under-estimate, since "honor" killings are often reported as suicides or accidents. The victims are mostly teenage girls or young adults "guilty" of such "crimes" as being alone with a non-family member of the opposite sex, not covering herself appropriately, or being the victim of a rape. The victim is generally burned alive, stoned, beaten to death, cut at the throat, decapitated, stabbed, or suffocated. The murder is generally carried out by a male relative (father, brothers, cousins, or grandfather), but female relatives (mothers and sisters) often take part in the decision to execute the victim, and sometimes even participate.
While most common in Muslim countries and communities, "honor" killings are to a lesser extent also perpetrated in Hindu, Sikh, and some non-Muslim African communities. The practice predates Islam and has been condemned by many political and religious leaders in Islamic countries, but its disproportionate continuation indicates that political and religious leaders have not done enough to educate communities on the unacceptability of "honor" killings, and that the legal system in those countries does not adequately deter "honor killing" crimes.
"Honor killings" are a despicable tradition justified and justifiable by no religion. Please sign this petition to join in condemning this heinous practice, and ask political and religious leaders worldwide to undertake more effective measures to eliminate it.
For more information, links, and a protest poem on "honor" killings, please see http://newsericks.com/heinous.
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Honorable Navanethem Pillay
- American Islamic Congress Executive Director
Ms. Zainab Al-Suwaij
- Chairman, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
M. Zuhdi Jasser
This petition protests the recent murder by her father and grandfather of sixteen year old Medine Memi, buried alive in Kahta, Turkey as punishment for the "crime" of having been seen talking to boys, and for all other such cases in which women (mostly teenage girls or young adults) are victimized to preserve family “honor.” The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women are killed each year for allegedly dishonoring their families, probably an under-estimate, since “honor” killings are often reported as suicides or accidents. In Turkey, there are over 200 per year, according to official statistics, almost half of all the murders that take place.
We the undersigned call upon religious and political leaders throughout the world to condemn the practice of “honor” killing. While this practice is inimical to Islam, we ask political and religious leaders to recognize that such killings take place disproportionately in Muslim cultures (and to a lesser extent in Hindu, Sikh, and some non-Muslim African ones), and are categorically different from other crimes of domestic violence. This disproportion indicates that political and religious leaders in those countries have not done enough to educate their residents on the unacceptability of “honor” killings, and that the legal system in those countries does not adequately deter “honor killing” crimes.
We therefore call for the following actions in and with regard to countries and cultures in which “honor” killings disproportionately take place:
• Expansion of United Nations and other international programs to identify and implement legal measures to deter “honor” killings, and elimination of legal measures that treat “honor” killings as “lesser” crimes deserving of lighter (or sometimes no) punishment
• Conditioning of some or all international aid on measurable progress in removing legal measures that enable “honor” killings to continue
• Creation and funding of more shelters and other alternative living situations for women who fear they may become victims of “honor” killings
• Development and implementation of educational programs to promote greater understanding of moral and religious prohibitions against “honor” killings and discredit the view that such killings are justifiable
• Cooperation with and provision of funding to national and international groups (in particular, co-religionist groups) that educate and advocate against “honor” killings, and
• Concerted and organized efforts by religious leaders to speak out against “honor” killings and their serious contravention of religious principles.
“Honor killings” are a despicable tradition justified and justifiable by no religion. We therefore call upon religious and political leaders to support the above goals and work towards elimination of “honor” killings as a socially or legally tolerated practice.
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