Nûjiyan Erhan (Tuba Akyılmaz) reported about the struggle of the Yazidis in the Shengal (Sinjar) district of northern Iraq. She was killed while she was following the news on the ground four years ago.
On 3 August 2014, ISIS attacked Sinjar and massacred hundreds of Yazidis and kidnapped thousands of women. Survivors of the massacre tried to hold onto life on Sinjar mountains. Nûjiyan Erhan reached Sinjar amid such hard circumstance to report the facts from the ground. She was not only a journalist, but she became a teacher of journalism for the local people.
On 3 March 2017, Nûjiyan was reporting from the field again when the forces of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) launched an attack in the Xanesor district of Sinjar. She was reportedly purposefully targeted and was heavily wounded. She lost her life on 22 March.
During the same attack, the journalist Hadî Şengalî, who was taught journalism by Nûjiyan was also shot dead.
Her journalist colleagues Suwêl Şengalî and Edûlê Şemo spoke to Yeni Özgür Politika on their memories of Nûjiyan Erhan.
The town of Sinjar was occupied by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014. The jihadist group ISIS killed thousand of people mostly women and children, forced hundreds of Yazidis into sexual slavery and kidnapped thousands of women. The Yazidis tried to freed from the massacre and the brutal attacks of ISIS.
‘Nûjiyan taught us how to cope with our pain’
Suwêl Şengalî, one of the young journalists and Nûjiyan’s friend spoke about the first time she met Nûjiyan. “She came to Sinjar after the genocide attack by ISIS. These were the times when we could not overcome the shock of what we were going through, and we were in such deep fear. Nûjiyan taught us how to cope with our pain. She taught us how to deal with our fears courageously. Therefore, her place is irreplaceable for me and I will always be so proud of her,” Şengali said.
With her arrival in Sinjar, she gathered a group of young women and trained them as reporters. Şengali was in the first group trained by the dedicated journalist. “She wanted women to improve themselves, become journalists and reflect the experiences of the people,” Şengali said, “There were no women journalists to report the history and social structure of the Yazidis before she came in Sinjar. There were no Yazidi women journalists in Sinjar who could write and convey our pain, the cruelty we suffered and resistance. She persisted and taught us how to conduct this profession. She was inventive, innovative and made such a lot of effort for us. We will always remember her with deep longing.”
‘She gave so much effort for us’
Everyone who got to know Nûjiyan talks about her strong friendship bonds with Yazidi women. They say in order to keep her name alive and to be remembered, people give the name of Nûjiyan for their new born girls.
Edulê Şemo is one of the brave women who stayed in the Sinjar mountains when ISIS attacked and never left her homeland.
“Nûjiyan touched our lives,” Şemo said, ”She helped us a lot. She was going from door to door, trying to be the voice of women regardless of such hard conditions. We have experienced many massacres before, but Nûjiyan and others like her made our voices heard and to be able to convey these facts to the world and the humanity witnessed what we are going through. She will always live with us as long as we live.”