Swedish-Kurd, Pela Atroshi, was just 19 years old when she was shot to death during a visit to the family hometown of Duhok, in the northern part of Iraq in June1999.
The family moved to Sweden in 1995, and Pela adapted to the Swedish lifestyle which led to conflict with her parents so she left home in January 1999. However Pela missed her family and eventually returned when her family said they forgave her and she agreed to an arranged marriage in Kurdistan.
In their home town in Iraq, honour killings are considered minor crimes, and the Atroshi clan are held in high regard.
Pela was shot in front of her mother and little sister Breen who both tried to help Pela run for cover. The men pulled them apart and her uncle Rezak Atroshi pulled the trigger. Breen and her mother decided to run away to the Swedish Embassy there to report the murder. They were only able to return unharmed to Sweden due to high-level political manoeuvring and the dedicated work of a special unit in the Swedish National Criminal Investigation Department.
Due to Breen’s bravery in speaking with police and appearing in trial to give testimony, two of her uncles were finally convicted for Pela’s murder in April of 2001 to a life sentence in the SVEA High court of Sweden.
Pela’s father Agid remained in Kurdistan a free man with a new wife even after his brothers were convicted in Sweden. It is unclear if her grandfather Abdulmajid Atroshi and one of the uncles – Shivan Atroshi, who both lived in Australia at the time are alive – they have never been caught.
In July 2008, Breen Atroshi spoke on TV about the horror, “My uncles wanted to restore the family honour, but I in return had to restore the honour of Pela,”
Breen herself is forced to live under death threats, hidden in a secret location in Sweden. “My father’s family is after me to re-establish the family honour again. They want to kill me. I’m not safe,” she says. She does not regret that she testified against the men in her family.
In Sweden, Pela is honored by the Swedish National Association GAPF: “Never forget Pela and Fadime” which is an organisation urging the society to take its responsibility against honour related crimes.
Back in Iraq, an Iraqi Kurdish court eventually sentenced her father and an uncle who remained there to just five months probation because their motives were “honourable.”
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Monday, 13 June 2011
Pela Atroshi « Memini