ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Yezidi (Ezidi) from Shingal has won the 2018 Ischia Prize for Human Rights for her photos and images of the minority group’s suffering in northern Iraq.
Zina Salim Hamu, a self-taught photojournalist, was awarded the prestigious prize in Italy on Saturday in the presence of dozens of Italian journalists and officials.
One of the most important awards in the country, the 39th edition of the Ischia Prize was presented to Hamu by the Italian Prime Minister in coordination with the Federation of Italian Journalists.
Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan, who attended the ceremony, spoke with Hamu who said she was thrilled to receive the award.
“I am honored to have received this Journalist for Human Rights award in Italy. I am committed to covering the injustice suffered by the Ezidis and all other groups around the world,” she said, adding she wants to continue “to empower women and girls through her work.”
“I think it is very important for women and girls in Iraq to be given the opportunity to recognize their potential in all avenues of society,” Hamu said, stating she was grateful to Italy for their desire to protect Ezidis and educate people about their plight.
Maarten van Aalderen, the Deputy Head of the Ischia International Award Judges, praised Hamu’s achievement.
“In Italy, we are aware of the extent of the suffering of the Ezidis and the Kurdish people, in general,” he said. “Giving this prize to Hamu is an appreciation of her efforts to express the disaster faced by her people.”
“I hope these tragedies will not be repeated,” Aalderen, who is also a correspondent for De Telegraaf in Italy, added.
The 22-year-old is an Ezidi from the town of Shingal. She was displaced following the Islamic State’s attack on the region in 2014 where the group committed one of the most egregious crimes in modern day history.
Hamu and her family were forced to flee to the Khanke camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Kurdistan Region. In 2015, she had the opportunity to participate in a UNICEF-supported project called “Photographic Techniques to Empower Yezidi Girls.”
In 2017, Hamu opened a photojournalism exhibition at the MAXXI museum in Rome by invitation from the Italian Defense Minister.
The photojournalist is currently studying Communications and Journalism at the LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania.
She was also awarded the US Department of State’s 2018 Emerging Young Leaders Award in May.
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan)