The lifetime of schoolgirl Heshu Yones who grew to become the sufferer of the UK’s first so-called ‘honour killing’ is re-examined in a brand new podcast collection hosted by her former classmate. 

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Heshu was 16 when she had her throat slit by her strict Kurdish Muslim father, Abdalla Yones, at their household residence in Acton, west London, in October 2002. 

Yones, a political refugee who had fled the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, believed his daughter had develop into ‘too westernised’ and was ashamed to be taught she had struck up a relationship with an 18-year-old Lebanese Christian boy.

In BBC podcast collection Life Chances, journalist and former classmate Athar Ahmad explores how Heshu’s sense of freedom and private expression was fostered by their college, Acton Excessive, however that this similar sense of self finally led to her homicide. 

Heshu Yones (pictured) was 16 when she had her throat slit by her strict Kurdish Muslim father, Abdalla Yones, at their family home in Acton, west London, in October 2002

Yones, a political refugee who had fled the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, believed his daughter had become 'too westernised' and was ashamed to learn she had struck up a relationship with an 18-year-old Lebanese Christian boy

Heshu Yones (left) was 16 when she had her throat slit by her strict Kurdish Muslim father, Abdalla Yones (proper), at their household residence in Acton, west London, in October 2002

Over the course of 5 episode he additionally explores the brutal deaths of two different former classmates: Anton Hyman, who was shot and stabbed on the age of 17, and Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, a terror suspect who was reportedly killed by al-Shabaab after fleeing the UK for Somalia.

Ahmad, a information reporter and documentary maker, began at Acton Excessive within the late Nineties. Former college students recollect it had a fame for being ‘tough’, that fights have been an everyday incidence and lecturers’ vehicles have been ‘stolen and given to gangs’. 

‘You would possibly bear in mind the rose backyard in entrance of the varsity and there can be folks ready within the rose backyard to begin a combat, with bottles,’ former headmistress Lesley Corridor remembers within the first episode. ‘And that was horrible neighborhood faction stuff.’ 

However Acton Excessive, which grew to become an academy in 2017 after being rated ‘insufficient’ by Ofsted, was additionally a melting pot for college students from totally different cultural, spiritual and ethnic backgrounds. For some, it was a ‘lifeline’ and a spot of escape. 

‘For a few of my classmates college was the one place the place they needed to combine with folks from totally different backgrounds, to expertise a distinct lifestyle from that at residence,’ Ahmad explains. 

‘I’ve heard it mentioned that one of many contradictions of contemporary Briton is that it may be a society that claims integration however generally finally ends up fostering separation. 

In BBC podcast series Life Chances , journalist and former classmate Athar Ahmad explores how Heshu's sense of freedom and personal expression was fostered by their school, Acton High, but that this same sense of self eventually led to her murder. Pictured, Heshu

In BBC podcast collection Life Probabilities , journalist and former classmate Athar Ahmad explores how Heshu’s sense of freedom and private expression was fostered by their college, Acton Excessive, however that this similar sense of self finally led to her homicide. Pictured, Heshu

‘Perhaps our college, open, welcoming, with children from around the globe mixing, however then going residence to a far much less related, extra homogeneous life, embodied that.’ 

One of many college students caught on this divide was Heshu, who Ahmad remembered as being ‘actually, actually fashionable’.  

‘You realize in class you’ve these children who everybody gravitates in the direction of, everybody actually actually likes,’ he says. ‘She was all the time the centre of consideration. Folks have been actually drawn in the direction of her. Even when Heshu did not know you, you knew Heshu.’

When Heshu first arrived at Acton Excessive, she was the ‘mannequin scholar’ with a neat uniform and quiet nature. However by Yr 8 or Yr 9 the ‘actual Heshu’, full of life, vivacious and enjoyable, started to indicate, her former kind tutor recalled. 

She was very free-spirited, which is a no-no within the Kurdish neighborhood

Ahmad and a former classmate named Sara* recall how Heshu was fashionable, beloved her make-up and was into R&B music. 

Her assured and confident nature additionally led to consideration from boys. 

However all of this was at odds with what her mother and father anticipated of her.

‘She was very free-spirited, which is a no-no in our neighborhood,’ defined Sara*, who was additionally raised in a Kurdish family.

‘There’s a sure code of behaviour, it is a patriarchal society. At residence, they’d simply see her as an object of “the daughter” who does not have a life outdoors the house.’

Heshu’s former tutor agreed: ‘At residence, they wished her to be a spouse and a mom. That was her future, to not work outdoors the house. 

‘She can be allowed to go onto six kind faculty however there was by no means any discuss past that as a result of the plan can be that there can be an organized marriage for her. 

‘By the point she was 16… She was terrified that she can be taken to Kurdistan and there can be a husband ready for her.’ 

When Heshu first arrived at Acton High, she was the 'model student' with a neat uniform and quiet nature. But by Year 8 or Year 9 the 'real Heshu', lively, vivacious and fun, began to show, her former form tutor recalled. Pictured, Heshu Yones

When Heshu first arrived at Acton Excessive, she was the ‘mannequin scholar’ with a neat uniform and quiet nature. However by Yr 8 or Yr 9 the ‘actual Heshu’, full of life, vivacious and enjoyable, started to indicate, her former kind tutor recalled. Pictured, Heshu Yones

Ahmad tells how there have been two sides of Heshu: the ‘westernised’ teenager she was in school, and the subservient daughter she was anticipated to be at residence.

‘Faculty was her outlet, a spot she might be herself,’ he says. However she flourished in a manner that was more and more at odds along with her residence life. 

Shortly earlier than her demise she had began a relationship with an 18-year-old Lebanese Christian boy, one thing, as Sara defined was ‘shameful’ within the eyes of her father.

‘As a result of she broke a rule, her father killed her,’ she mentioned.  

On 12 October 2002 Yones murdered his 16-year-old daughter. He stabbed her 17 instances with a kitchen knife. When she escaped and locked herself within the toilet, he broke down the door and slit her throat. 

I believe, had she not been so courageous, possibly issues may need turned out in a different way

Yones tried to kill himself instantly after the 2002 homicide by chopping his personal throat after which throwing himself from a 3rd flooring balcony on the household residence in Acton. 

He initially claimed members of al Qaida had damaged into his residence, killed his daughter and attacked him earlier than throwing him over the balcony. 

He grew to become the primary particular person to plead responsible to homicide in a so-called honour killing case. He was jailed for all times in September 2003.  

Ahmad explains that Heshu’s story, and others, make him realise that he did not perceive his classmates’ lives in addition to he thought he did on the time.  

 ‘The factor about Heshu is, she was very comfy in herself, even on the age of 16, 17. It makes me a bit unhappy as nicely as a result of I believe, had she not been so courageous, possibly issues may need turned out in a different way,’ he says.

He later provides: ‘What I realise now was that we simply noticed everybody’s lives at a really superficial degree however then beneath the floor there was a lot happening.’

Life Chances is accessible on BBC Sounds. *Title modified by producers.



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