Posted on September 2, 2008

Five Women Who Wanted to Pick Their Own Husbands Buried Alive in Mass Honour Killing

This Is London, September 1, 2008

Five women were buried alive by their tribe in a mass honour killing prompted by their wish to choose their own husbands.

The victims, who included three teenagers, were abducted at gunpoint, beaten and shot before being thrown into a ditch.

They were still breathing as their bodies were covered with rocks and mud, according media reports and human rights activists.

The incident occurred in Baba Kot, a remote village in Jafferabad district, after the women decided to defy tribal elders and arrange marriages in a civil court, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.

They were said to have been abducted at gunpoint by six men, forced into a vehicle and taken to a remote field, where they were beaten, shot and then buried alive, it said, accusing local authorities of trying to hush up the killings.

A Pakistani lawmaker provoked outrage by defending men from the Baluch tribe who had carried out the killings.

Israr Ullah Zehri told stunned members of Pakistan’s parliament: ‘These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them,’

‘Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.’

He claimed the tribal traditions helped stop obscenity—and then asked fellow lawmakers not to make a big fuss about it.

Many stood up in protest, saying the executions were ‘barbaric’ and demanding more discussion.

But a handful said it was an internal matter of the deeply conservative province of Baluchistan.

‘I was shocked,’ said lawmaker Nilofar Bakhtiar, who pushed for legislation calling for perpetrators of so-called honour killings to be punished when she served as minister of women’s affairs under the last government.

‘I feel that we’ve gone back to the starting point again,’ she said. ‘It’s really sad for me.’

The incident apparently occurred about a month ago.

Accounts about the killings have varied, largely because police in the tribal region have been uncooperative. Activists and lawmakers said a more thorough investigation needed to be carried out.

The Asian Human Rights Commission, however, said the two older women may have been related to some of the teenage girls and were apparently murdered because they were sympathetic to their wishes.

There have been claims one of the perpetrators was related to a top provincial official.