In memory of Serhildan, the YPJ fighter

I have had a stomach ache for two days, after seeing the latest list of killed in Kobane, published by YPG. In the list it was a photo of Serhildan.

The 19 year old woman and YPJ fighter that I got to befriend, compared tattoos with, interviewed and photographed in September on the eastern front outside the city. That I portrayed as an example of the dedicated young women in defence of her home, and published photos of in magazines in four countries. That I kept showing when giving talks about the region and the fight against Daesh/ISIS, and worried a lot over – her front was the first one to be pushed back to the city and transform into a bloody street battle in early October. And that I spent half a week looking for when returning to Kobane in late December, showing her picture in a magazine to fellow YPJ fighters and the military leadership, until we managed to locate her at the first line at the southern front against ISIS. Alive, and with happiness and conviction glowing in her green eyes.

She died on 15 January. According to local sources she was killed in the fierce clashes on the same front, in the 48th District, that was raging a few days before the recapturing of the Mishtenur Hill from the invaders.

There is no other way to put it: I cried my eyes out. Not those silent tears, instead I wept my floor wet for half an hour, with my forehead resting against the edge of my desk. It was as if all those feelings I thought I was hard enough to simply suppress, suddenly came out all at once. I never thought the last sentences of my post about her on 17 January would become such a prophecy:

Our meeting ended with both joy and a sad realization. The same days it was reported how the Czech Republic had delivered 5 000 anti-tank missiles to the Peshmerga forces in KRG/Iraqi Kurdistan. They also recieved weapons from the US and from Germany to use against ISIS. But Serhildan, who fought at the frontline against the same enemy, still had the very same Kalashnikov she was tying a new strap to at our first meeting in September. She and others in Kobane did not get the same weapon deliveries.                                              

Will she still be alive at my next visit to Kobane?

Serhildan became just another of many, many killed in Kobane, fighting a hell of a war against ISIS – but without any support to end the war quicker or with fewer casualties. I think it’s more important than ever to give all these statistics that are the outcome of this war a face and a name. It grieves me that I got to know her real one, and not only a nom de guerre, only in death.

Her name was Ermîn Ebdî. She was born in the village of Qeremux outside Kobane, in 1995. She liked tattoos, and her dream was to study instead of having to fight.

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