A country where whatever happens, nothing happens at all!

The death of Layla Ali

Kurdishaspect.com - By Dr Kamal Mirawdeli

On 30 April 2008 a mild-mannered sophisticated young lady went to Baghdad from Sulaymaniyah and interviewed Iraqi President and General-Secretary of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Mam Jalal Talabani in Kurdish. She asked her reasonable albeit timid and restrained questions because she was working for Khak media organisation which is one of many businesses owned and managed by the president’s wife Hero Ahmad. It was in that interview, which was shown on Kurdsat TV, also owned and controlled by the President’s wife, that Layla asked Mam Jalal what he thought about the criticisms published about him in Kurdish papers and especially on Kurdish websites. And it was in that now notorious interview that Talabani boasted that he never read any criticism written about him unless his attention was attracted to them by chance. And it was in that interview that Talabani compared himself to moonlight with 60 years of shining struggle and described his critics as ‘dogs barking at moonlight.”  But he made his critics happy by insisting that the dogs too must have freedom to bark.  The brilliant woman journalist was Layla Ali. Eight months later Layla is dead. She, as reported, shot herself with a single pistol bullet on 29 December2008 .  And the news passes quickly just like the deaths of at least an average of two women that are either killed ort burnt every day. No one knows how and why Layla died. She was the employee and perhaps the confidante of Talabani’s wife Hero Khan for 11 years. “She was first employed as broadcaster in [Hero Khan’s] local Khak TV in 1997. Then she became a broadcaster and presenter at Kurdsat in 2000 and prepared and presented several programmes” (1) She was born on 15 May 1971 in Sulaymaniyah and had worked in theatre since she was four then she emerged as actor, writer, poet, journalist and TV presenter and interviewer. (2) Sbey website and other Kurdish media described her death as suicide without anyone, even the police, being able to publish any details about her suicide: how, why, in what circumstances. The only formal piece of follow up to her death came as a very short ‘clarification’ from her family (her father). He published the following clarification on the Kurdish website kurdisatnnet.info on 13 January 2008:

“A Clarification from Layla Ali’s father

After the great calamity that happened to us we thank from the bottom of our heart all those friends and persons who participated in her burial ceremony and sent us their condolences via telephone, emails and letters or sympathised with us with the sorrow of their hearts. We thank all of them one by one. We also thank all the TV channels and electronic newspapers, radios and magazines that supported us through the publication of the untimely death of Layla and also thank her colleagues and professional co-workers. We pray God to spare them all misfortunes. I would like also to assure all her sorrowful friends and colleagues that Layla in all her life had no aim apart from the happiness and welfare of all people around her in her work place and family and was doing her best to provide whatever support and help she could to others. For this reason she never had an enemy in all her life and the letter she has left behind proves this fact. The letter is now kept by her judge and the judge himself has asked the media to publish it. But unfortunately so far no one has published it. Anyone wishing to find the truth can go to the judge and see or publish the letter. Tuesday, 13 January 2009”. (3) 

PukMedia published the news of her death on the same day under the title “Journalist Layla Ali kills herself with a pistol.” PUkmedia quotes the local Bakhtyari police as saying “Investigations show that Layla has killed herself because of some family issues. It is not suspected that there is anyone’s hand behind her death.” But soon after this the police officer Milko Omar Qadir adds: “Layla has left behind her a farewell letter in which she blames her husband. She has killed herself with a pistol which she had bought for some time. She shot herself in the head with a bullet.” (2)

Sadly, that is it! Layla has gone like thousands of women before, and after her, whom she herself failed to defend in her life and became a number like them in her death. Layla is just another name added to the caravan of the torched and murdered women in the  jungle land of primitive political parties where the cheapest thing is a woman’s life.

But the question remains: why and how Layla committed suicide? Is no one responsible to establish the truth of the case? Doesn’t  Layla and other 15,000 women died in the last 16 years deserve justice, deserve to become stories, news, appeals told again and again by the media from local papers to national TVs until the truth is found and justice is done?

Layla was the employee of the First Lady. If she is not directly responsible for her death or the circumstances of her death, about which there are credible reports, then she is absolutely responsible to find out and tell the world the truth about her death: why did Layla kill herself at a time she was in her employment even until 3.00 pm the day ‘she killed herself’. A woman writer Chirok Saya asks, ‘How can Layla commit suicide while she always criticised the women who killed themselves”?  She adds: Is it reasonable to say that a highly educated woman like Layla kills herself for ‘family problems’?   (4)

And then why has Talabani failed to say even one word about her death AND the death of at least 15,000 women during his and Barzani’s reign?


(1) Sbey website, 29 December 2008: “Kurdsat broadcaster Layla Ali kills herself”.

(2) PUkmedia, 29 December 2009: “ Journalsit Layla Ali kills herself with a pistol”.

(3) Kurdisatnnet website, 13 January 2009, “A Clarification from Layla Ali’s father”

(4)  Chirok Saya,PUkRabun,com, 5 January 2009: “Why did Layla ali kill herself?” http://pukraboon.com/2009/01/06/444


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