Motive behind the murder of Awara and Hélin still not clear: father still in hiding

Chamchamal, 9 September 2020 – the grave where the corpses of Awara and Hélin were hidden at the Braiym-agha village in Kirkuk's Shwan subdistrict – Photo by Soran Muhammad

Soran Mohammad - Kirkuk

“Those two sisters were neglected, but obedient and good to one another,” this is how some of the relatives of the two sisters from Chamchamal who were found murdered on 9 September, and stressed that regardless how poorly they were raised, they would never complain.

Awara Faqé Haseeb (19) and Hélin Faqé Haseeb (17) were found dead in a grave nearly a week after they were missing. They were buried on 10 September by the authorities with the presence of some residents of Chamchamal and some NGOs. Their families refused to take their bodies.

Their father, Faqé Haseeb, remarried after divorcing their mother. He has later divorced his other wife as well. According to the relatives of the family, Faqé wasn’t good with either of his wives.

Chamchamal, 10 September 2020 – the funeral procession of Awara and Hélin – Photo by Soran Muhammad

He too went missing the day the girls went missing. He is now the main suspect in the murder case, and the authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest.

Sardar Karim, a resident of the Baiym-agha village and a cousin of Faqé, said: “Before the police came [to investigate], we hadn’t heard anything about the grave or the killing of the two girls.” He added: “Their life was misery, and this was their fate.”

Faqé had been a member of the Peshmerga Forces, but according to his relatives, he was discharged because he often failed to report for duty.

He divorced the mother of Awara and Hélin about a year ago, according to the relatives. Awara, Hélin and their younger sister would remain with him.

Hana Shwan, a member of Civil Development Organization (CDO), who attended the funeral of Awara and Hélin, told KirkukNow: “Their younger sister is also missing.”

The family lived in Kirkuk City for two years before returning to their village (Braiym-agha). Later they moved to Shorish subdistrict, but kept their house in the village, which they visited from time to time.

Chamchamal, 10 September 2020 – the funeral procession of Awara and Hélin – Photo by Soran Muhammad

Ramak Ramadhan, the mayor of Chamchamal stated during the funeral that “the police have opened an investigation into the case. It was found in the medical report that the two girls were tortured before they were killed, and that they were shot dead. The identity of the killer is not known yet, but an arrest warrant was issued for their father.

The story caused widespread outrage on social media. Women rights advocacy groups and others attended the funeral and demanded an investigation and justice.

The neighbours say they hadn’t seen nor heard anything about the girls since the start of September.

KirkukNow went to the Braiym-agha village on the day the bodies were discovered (9 September). The grave they were buried in was on a rough and somewhat out-of-sight and isolated terrain. The place was ridden with flies, and there was a strong pungent odour.

Awara and Hélin had taken refuge in a shelter for women on 17 July this year after filing a legal complaint against their father. But on 11 August, they went back to their father’s home after he meets with them and later files a legal pledge.

Hana Shwan said: “A few individuals have been detained and they are being questioned. But the main suspect is still not detained. We suspect that the murder was preplanned by more than one culprit.”

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