“To those who tell me she committed suicide, I answer that she was killed. Heather Elias is an Iraqi reporter who knew Jacky Sutton, the former BBC journalist who hung herself in Istanbul, personally. They had worked together and he knew how determined she was and how much she loved her profession. “She was carrying on her activity in Iraq – told the Daily Mail – in spite of the fact that everything was difficult, everything was a challenge”. A stubbornness that, according to Elias, was not compatible with the choice of suicide. “Someone has murdered her” he reiterated. Words that do not dissipate the mists of the episode which happened on Sunday, when Sutton’s lifeless body was found in the toilet of the Ataturk airport. This reconstruction, in any case, is questioned by some of her colleagues. According to their version, the woman had arrived in Istanbul from London’s Heathrow Airport, and had lost a connection flight to Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. She was very nervous because she did not have money to buy another ticket. Also “The Guardian” joined the group of skeptics in relation to the alleged suicide. The newspaper reported a rather significant detail for investigations: Sutton is thought to have hung herself on the hook of a door in the toilet using shoelaces.
The reporter, who spoke five languages including Arabic, worked for Iraq, as the director of the “Institute of war and peace reporting”, whose headquarters is in London and which supports local journalism in countries affected by conflict and crisis. The Guardian stressed that, before Sutton, the same post was occupied by Ammar al-Shahbander, murdered in a car bomb attack in Baghdad last May 2. After having missed her plane, Sutton asked the staff to find an alternative solution, but they said she had to buy a new ticket, since the company was not responsible for the loss of the flight. At that point, the woman explained she had no money and burst into tears in front of the customer service department. Shortly after, she went to the toilet and never came back.
Of course, in a story with many grey zones, we ought to say that Sutton was an troublesome journalist. In June, the woman – who in the past had worked for the UN, FAO in Rome, and as a BBC producer from ’98 to 2000 – had expressed her fear of having become a target for terrorism, especially because of her research on violence against women at the hands of ISIS militia, a topic on which she was writing her PhD dissertation. Not to mention her Kurdish friends, of whom Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey disapproved.
“It is very difficult to believe that my colleague and a long-time traveler, Jacky Sutton, committed suicide”, denounced on Twitter Sudipto Mukerjee who works in a United Nations program. “I am not at all convinced she killed herself. Investigations are absolutely necessary”, echoed Susan Hutchinson, who worked with Sutton as a researcher in the center of Arab-Islamic studies of the Australian National University in Canberra. “I hope the Foreign Office will have full access to conduct adequate investigations on the circumstances of her death”, she added, according to British media. “International investigations are needed, not only local”. Also IWPR seems to be incredulous and asked to shed light on the episode. “Jacky was among the leading professionals working in Iraq and had devoted nearly 10 years of her life to helping the country”, said the Executive Director of the NGO, Anhtony Borden. “She was brilliant, very competent and able to handle difficult environments and situations. We are totally shocked “. Another colleague and friend, Christian Bleuer, is even more explicit. “She was the toughest woman in the world – she tweeted -. I do not believe in conspiracy, but if the Turks say that the airport’s video surveillance was out of order, Jacky Sutton was killed”.
Translated by Ecaterina Severin