Activists speak out after transgender woman executed by brother in Iraq’s Kurdistan

The death of a 23-year-old transgender woman in the Kurdish city of Duhok has angered human rights activists and diplomats in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Doski Azad was reportedly killed Monday by his brother, who appears to have left the country. Kurdish media have described Azad as a victim of honor killings. Local authorities said they are investigating the murder.

“Our investigations so far show that Doski Azad was killed by his brother at a location outside the city before he managed to escape from the scene,” said Hemin Suleiman, spokesman for Duhok police, adding that the victim was killed with a gun. He told Nerkenakata that an arrest warrant has been issued for the suspect, who reportedly lives in Germany.

Murder for the sake of honor or honor killings is common in Iraq. Hayfa Doski, a women’s rights activist in Duhok, said the killing has sounded an alarm among different communities.

“But transgender people in particular have been gravely concerned about this killing,” she told VOA. “They already feel discriminated against in our society and attacks like this only exacerbate those fears.” She said many people have taken to social media to express their fears following this week’s killing.

The U.S. Consulate in Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, issued a statement on Thursday condemning the killing and urging local “authorities to investigate the murder and prosecute the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law.”

Rights activists in the Kurdistan region say conservative values shouldn’t be an excuse for the society to tolerate discrimination and violent crimes against members of the LGBTQ community.

“These people are born this way, so society must accept them the way they are,” said Abdulrahman Bamerni, a Duhok-based human rights advocate. “You can’t kill someone just because he or she is different from you.”




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