ABBOTTABAD (ENNS) Three men were given life sentences and five others aquited in connection with one of country’s most notorious “honour killing” cases.
Omar Khan, Sabeer and Saheer, they are related to three women killed after being filmed singing and clapping at a wedding ceremony in 2011 at Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The killings sparked a blood feud which left another four dead.
A video emerged in 2011 which appeared to show a group of women – named as Bazeegha, Sereen Jan, Begum Jan and Amina – at a wedding, singing and clapping. A fifth woman – Shaheen, who was under 18 – is also thought to have been present.
It also showed a man dancing – although they were never in the same shot together. A second man is said to have been filming.
It was enough, in the remote Kohistan district where matters of family honour are settled in blood, to warrant at least three of the women’s deaths.
According to local I’ll custom, male family members of a woman suspected of an out-of-wedlock liaison – even of a seemingly innocuous nature – should first kill the woman, and then go after the man.
The family of the man would not oppose this action.
It meant everyone in the video – which was seen as “breaching the honour” of the women’s family – was in danger.
The wider world learned of the video in 2012 when Afzal Kohistani – brother of the two men involved – broke the code of silence to allege the women had been murdered, in order to save his siblings’ lives.
His campaign for justice prompted the Supreme Court to order an investigation into the killings. Investigators trekked for two days to the remote village and were initially presented with three women the locals claimed were those missing. The claims were later dismissed as false.
Kohistani had warned his life was in danger but on the other hand, it took until 2018 for a judge to finally order a court case into three deaths.
Bazigha’s father Sabeer, Seren Jan’s father Saheer and Begum Jan’s brother Omar Khan have now been given life sentences.
However, it is unclear what charges they were found guilty of and further details are still awaited.
But Afzal Kohistani did not live to see the sentencing. His decision to speak out led to three of his other brothers being killed in 2013, while his house was firebombed and destroyed.
Six men were convicted of those killings but later acquitted.
Then, in March 2019, Afzal Kohistani was shot dead during daylight in Abbottabad.
His death led activists to question why he hadn’t been given adequate protection when he was a known target.
The wife of Kohistani is in hiding as she had left home with a young man, who was allged & killed in the name of honour as well.