Female YPJ fighter in Syria allegedly murdered by relatives in ‘honor’ killing

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on Monday reported that a member of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) was killed by her brother in the Syrian town of Darbasiyyah, located near the Turkish border.

One source claimed that her brother said he killed her because she “brought shame and dishonour upon the family.”

In the region, there is a history of men being accused of killing women or girls perceived to have brought shame to a family or tribe being given token sentences, or in other cases, escaping justice entirely.

Even though such acts are technically illegal in Syria, Iraq, and other nearby countries, their prosecution, in practice, is sometimes dealt with as a “family” matter and kept out of the courts.

In other cases, the murders are made to look like suicides.

A source from Kongra-Star in Darbasiyyah, a confederation of women’s organizations, told Kurdistan 24 that the woman was known as Beritan, had lived with her family in the town until she told them she had joined the YPJ. According to the source, her father and step-siblings were not pleased with her decision. After her two stepbrothers tried to force her to go with them to go to Hasakah instead and she refused, one of them allegedly shot and killed her.

The source added that the family members are ethnic Arabs, remarking, “As you know, joining YPJ is not something uncommon among the Arab community.”

An official Kongra-Star statement read, “Violence against women is one of the most common violations of human rights, but most of these violations are not reported because of the absence of penalty.” 

“We, as women’s movement, call on all the women, civil rights institutions and the civic society institutions to take a rapid initiative to stop these crimes and not to be slow in holding the criminal accountable and applying the heaviest penalty so we can see that justice is done.”

Thomas McClure, a Syria-based researcher at the Rojava Information Center, told Kurdistan 24 that the YPJ, established in 2013, is known the world over for their efforts to establish a new form of autonomous, female-led democracy in northeastern Syria. 

“But this week’s honor killing underscores a reality many miss - that many parts of society in NES (Northeast Syria) remain deeply patriarchal, conservative and religious,” he said.

“Northeast Syria’s population is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim - both Kurds and Arabs. Though ISIS have been defeated and driven out of their strongholds in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, ISIS’ mentality and sleeper-cells still enjoy strong support in these regions,” he continued, “while Turkish-controlled groups continue to abuse, abduct and murder women and in some instances impose sharia law in regions under their occupation.”

Moreover, he added that, although the local Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) promotes and enshrines women’s rights into their laws, females living in areas under their control “continue to face major violence and oppression in the family home.”   

“Bodies like Mala Jin (Women’s House) and the women’s movement Kongra-Star work tirelessly to provide routes for women to escape abusive or dangerous situations, while YPJ, too, has provided a route for thousands of women to leave the family home and achieve newfound autonomy,” said McClure. “But profound entrenched misogyny is not changed overnight, and this latest honor killing underscores how much work remains to be done in Northeast Syria.”

On Aug. 21, Kongra-Star and other women’s rights institutions westward in the city of Kobani also started a campaign entitled “She did not commit suicide, you killed her,” reported the Hawar News Agency. The campaign was launched after an increase in murders of females there, plus other deaths that were officially ruled suicide, but where so-called honor killing is strongly suspected.


Source: https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/d0a68985-8a31-46b9-8c8d-9dde8d116d75


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