Zina Hamu, a Yazidi Genocide Survivor in Klaipėda

Zina Hamu, a Yazidi from Northern Iraq, had a dream to become a pediatrician. She was in the last year of her school when ISIS terrorists occupied her hometown in 2014. Zina and her family needed to leave immediately.

For two years they were living in a refugee camp where Zina became a self-taught photojournalist. After the unexpected turn of events, she got a chance to apply for the LCC university in Klaipėda, Lithuania – a city in a country she has never heard about before. This May she was announced as one of the winners of Emerging Young Leader Award for her work in documenting the lives of the Yazidi community.

Zina is one of the luckiest survivors of the ISIS invasion to Northern Iraq. Today, she is sharing her story for our podcast.

Zina’s family is still living in a refugee camp in Iraq. They encourage her to start studying in Europe. She will visit them again this summer, after 1,5 year break. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

Zina Hamu and Karolis Vyšniauskas during the interview. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

Zina Hamu during the interview. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

Sound engineer Kata Bitowt recording the interview. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

Yazidi religion is one of the oldest in the world. When ISIS invaded Northern Iraq, they saw Yazidi people as a minority that needs to be eliminated. Thousands of men were killed, many women were imprisoned as sex slaves. In 2017 the bodies of almost 1,500 Yazidis were discovered. The United Nations define these killings as a genocide. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

Podcast host Karolis Vyšniauskas during the interview. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

The interview was held in the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania. Emerging Young Leader Award is given by the U.S. Department of State to 10 young people from all over the world. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

Zina Hamu and Karolis Vyšniauskas at the park near the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

Further reading:

The Daring Plan to Save a Religious Minority from ISIS by Jenna Krajeski, The New Yorker

Slaves of Isis: the long walk of the Yazidi women by Cathy Otten, The Guardian

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Podcast episode recorded by Kata Bitowt.

The studio voice-over was recorded at Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania. The interview was held with a help from U.S. Embassy in Lithuania.

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