Victims of the Witch Hunts in the 21st Century

The investigation, interrogation and punishment of people suspected of being witches is defined as witch hunts. According to estimates, between 40,000 and 60,000 people across Europe were killed on witchcraft charges.1 The witch hunts, which spread all over the world like an epidemic in the Early Modern Age, mostly came to an end after the 18th century. But, even in the 21st century, it has been reported that many people were executed in different parts of the world on the grounds that they were witches or sorcerers.

Jongolo Sola, 2001

Tanzania – In 2001, 32 people were killed in an accident in Mbeya, in southern Tanzaya. After the tragic accident, a 63-year-old woman named Sola Jongolo was seen at the scene collecting brains with a plastic bag in her hand. Thereupon, the old woman was suspected of being a witch.

Sola Jongolo was lynched and beaten to death shortly after the incident.

Diego Hernandez Lopez, 2002

Mexico – In 2002, rumors that Diego Hernandez Lopez, who lived in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, practiced witchcraft, echoed through the streets of the San Juan Chamula village. Not indifferent to the rumors, a few attackers raided Diego Hernandez Lopez’s home one night. During the attack, they killed Diego and three people with him, whom they believed to be a witch and claimed to be using magic, and injured five others.

Many people were killed in Chiapas in the 1990s, too, for practicing magic.

Soeur Irina, 2005

Romania – In 2005, 23-year-old young nun Soeur Irina, believed to have been possessed by the devil, was subjected to an exorcism. When Irina, who asked the monk to help her, began to insult him, she was gagged and crucified. A few days after she was locked in a small room, she was found dead.

After the incident, the monk and four nuns were investigated. It was learned that Irina had been treated for schizophrenia for a short time before. The Romanian Orthodox Church has declared that it condemns the exorcism ritual. The monk was banned from the profession.

Fawza Falih, 2010

Saudi Arabia – In 2006, she was sentenced to death for witchcraft and cruelty to animals, and it was decided to be beheaded. Although many international organizations reacted to the decision, the appeal court upheld the decision.

Fawza Falih, who had been awaiting execution in a prison cell for nearly four years, choked to death in 2010 while eating. More precisely, this was the statement of the Saudi authorities.

Ama Hemmah, 2010

Ghana – On November 20, 2010, when pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe went to visit his sister, he saw an elderly woman sitting in the bedroom. That woman was 72-year-old Ama Hemmah.

Allegedly, Ama Hemmah was a known witch in the area. After being forced to confess, kerosene was poured over her and set on fire. However, Hemmah was taken to the hospital by a nursing student but could not be saved. The suspects denied the crime and claimed that they were trying to exorcise the demons inside the grandmother.

Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar, 2011

Saudi Arabia – Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar, who was arrested on suspicion of witchcraft and sorcery, was executed in late 2011 with the approval of the high court. It was claimed that during the searches made at Amina’s house, a lot of material related to witchcraft was found.

Authorities said Amina described herself as a healer. After the incident, some international organizations announced that they condemned the execution.

Muree bin Ali, 2012

Saudi Arabia – In Najran, in southern Saudi Arabia, a man named Muree bin Ali was arrested for possession of spellbooks and talismans. Saudi courts have ordered the execution of Muree bin Ali.

After high court approval, Muree bin Ali was publicly executed in mid-2012.

Kepari Leniata, 2013

Papua New Guinea – In 2013 Kepari Leniata, just 20 years old, was blamed for the death of a child who fell ill. Kepari Leniata, who was investigated by an illegal gang, was accused of being a witch and tortured. Shortly after, her body was set on fire on a dumpster.

Papua New Guinea police confirmed that Kepari Leniata was tortured before she was killed, and hundreds of people, including children, witnessed the atrocities.

In 2022, even Kepari Leniata’s six-year-old daughter was tortured on charges of witchcraft, but the child was saved.

Ahmed Kusane Hassan, 2020

Somalia – In 2020, a man named Ahmed Kusane Hassan was sentenced to death by the al-Qaeda-linked militant organization Al-Shabaab for practicing witchcraft. Allegedly, Ahmed Kusane Hassan had cast a spell to separate a married couple.

On September 24, 2020, witchcraft was defined by the organization as an act of apostasy, and Ahmed Kusane Hassan was publicly executed by firing squad.

Seema Devi, 2022

India – Seema Devi, just 31 years old, was murdered by a relative for practicing witchcraft. Indian authorities determined that the deceased was beaten to death with an iron rod.

The 35-year-old relative who killed Seema Devi was arrested shortly after the incident. The accused claimed that his relative had supernatural powers and blamed Seema Devi for the death of his nephew, who died two years ago.

  1. Germany was once the witch-burning capital of the world. Here’s why” Gwynn GUILFORD, Quartz, January 24, 2018[]