By BosNewsLife Correspondents Eric Leijenaar and Stefan J. Bos
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)-- A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia on charges of "adultery" by supporters of an influential Islamic group which previously murdered Christian converts, BosNewsLife learned Sunday, November 2.
Another child reportedly died when gunmen opened fire on witnesses trying to save the life of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow.
Aisha was killed Monday, October 27, by a group of 50 men who stoned her to death in a stadium in the southern port of Kismayu, in front of some 1,000 spectators, said international human rights group Amnesty International (AI) in a statement seen by BosNewsLife.
The men have links to a coalition of the 'Al-shabab' group and related clan militias enforcing a strict interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law, on behalf of local Kismayo authorities.
Muslim militants from the al-Shabab group, who fight Somalia's transitional government, earlier sliced the head off of Mansuur Mohammed, 25, a World Food Program (WFP) worker, because he converted from Islam to Christianity, in Manyafulka village, 10 kilometers (six miles) from the town of Baidoa, BosNewsLife monitored. Other Christians have also been kiled on "blasphemy" charges.
Aisha was accused of "adultery in breach of Islamic law" although her father and other sources told Amnesty International she had been raped by three men, AI said. Her father reportedly said she had only travelled to Kismayo from Hagardeer refugee camp in north eastern Kenya three months earlier.
"She had attempted to report this rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of the [three] men she accused of rape were arrested," AI added.
After her detention, a truckload of stones was brought into the stadium to be used in the stoning. "At one point during the stoning, Amnesty International has been told by numerous eyewitnesses that nurses were instructed to check whether she was still alive when buried in the ground. They removed her from the ground, declared that she was, and she was replaced in the hole where she had been buried for the stoning to continue," AI said.
An individual calling himself Sheik Hayakalah, was reportedly quoted on Radio Shabelle saying: "The evidence came from her side and she officially confirmed her guilt, while she told us that she is happy with the punishment under Islamic law.''
Contrary to the claim, eye witnesses told Amnesty International she struggled with her captors and had to be forcibly carried into the stadium, AI said. "Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokesperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished."
AI Somalia Campaigner David Copeman said the death of the girl underscored his organization's opposition to stoning. "This was not justice, nor was it an execution. This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo," he said. "This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants to the conflict in Somalia, and again demonstrates the importance of international action to investigate and document such abuses, through an International Commission of Inquiry."
AI has campaigned against the punishment of stoning, calling it gruesome and horrific. "This killing of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow demonstrates the cruelty and the inherent discrimination against women of this punishment," AI added.
It said her death should be understood within "the climate of fear that armed insurgent groups such as al-Shabab have created within the areas they control in Somalia." Many Christians are also among those fleeing the region, BosNewsLife established. The number of refugees have increased following the girls' death, according to rights investigators.
AI said it has also documented that government officials, journalists and human rights defenders face death threats and killing if they are perceived to have spoken against al-Shabab, who it said waged "a campaign of intimidation against the Somali people through such killings."
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