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    Students from Bahirka, a collective town for displaced people from the Anfal campaign all over northern Iraq, swing, play and wave the Kurdish flag on fallen Iraqi tanks in the town of Shera Swars. This is a famous site where in 1991, the Peshmerga, Kurdish armed fighters, fought and defeated Iraqi forces. The students were on a picnic in nearby Shaqlawa and stopped at this emotionally charged monument to Kurdish patriotism.
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    Kurdish police take security very seriously and post mobile checkpoints around the city of Arbil, Northern Iraq. Motorists are generally very cooperative and even appreciative of these efforts, which in large part makes the Kurdistan region the safest part of Iraq.
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    The Northern Oil Company is the main producer of oil and gas in northern Iraq. The struggle for power in Baghdad is playing out in the struggle for control of the Kirkuk oil fields. In 2003, after liberation, the Kurds with support of the American occupation, created the Oil Protection Force. As many as 3000 members of this force, who are mostly Kurdish, are now working to protect the oil fields and facilities.
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    Kurdish men in northern Iraq train as new recruits for the Peshmerga, or 'those who face death,' after the Gulf War of 1991. The Peshmerga in Iraq are aligned with the two main parties, the KDP and PUK. Training takes place in a former Iraqi army base in Chalacholan.
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    Members of the Iraqi National Guard train at the Mosul Dam base, which is home to the 6th Brigade, 2nd division. These men are all Kurds and former Peshmerga. They will be deployed in Mosul, a violent city that has cost this brigade over 140 lives in the past six months.
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    Massoud Barzani, left, of the KDP or Kurdish Democratic Party talks with Jalal Talabani of the PUK or Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. In 1991, they battled each other for the position of leader of Iraqi Kurdistan. Infighting was a common obstacle to overcoming oppression under Saddam Hussein.
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    The Yemesli refugee camp in Iraq was set up for displaced Iraqi Kurds after the Gulf War of 1991. It became home to 60,000 Kurdish refugees for months after the war but has since been abandoned.
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    Throughout Iraqi Kurdistan, students are finally studying Kurdish history, which was forbidden under Iraqi rule. It is the only place in Kurdistan where classes are held in Kurdish. Without the money to print their own text books, students are forced to make do with what the Iraqis left behind, sometimes filling up notebooks and erasing them to be used. These students are in a classroom of a bombed out school in Penjwin, Iraq, near the border with Iran.
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    Having fled their war-torn home near Kirkuk, Iraq, a Kurdish family battles the elements in the ruins of Penjwin, Iraq on the border of Iran. Iraqi Kurds returned to their homes and the rubble of Penjwin after the Gulf War of 1991.
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    In the small rented storeroom that serves as living quarters, Rebas Mala Muhammad Amin, 13, his older brother and widowed father eat a simple dinner of rice, provided by their neighbors. Benislawa is a settlement near Arbil, Northern Iraq that was originally created in the late 1970's to accommodate Kurds who were displaced from Kirkuk as part of Saddam Hussein's program of Arabization. Local residents are mostly unemployed and live in abject conditions.
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    Rebas Mala Muhammad Amin isn't able to attend school because he must work to provide food for the family. He buys scraps in his settlement and resells them in the city.
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    Amina Namiq, 51 and mother of seven, holds her official ID. She was displaced from Kirkuk in 1983 and returned directly after the war of liberation in 2003. In the burgeoning Kurdish community of Kirkuk, Kurds who were expelled from the city during Saddam's program of Arabization have returned. They are now in this half-built community, living in tents and newly constructed cinder block homes, with no water or electricity or schools. The men work in day labor jobs when they can.
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    Outside the abandoned football stadium in Kirkuk, a boy enjoys some play time with found objects. The stadium has become a camp for internally displaced Kurds from other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, many Kurds who had been forcibly removed from Kirkuk returned. There were no homes for them, so they occupied abandoned buildings and set up tent encampments on the outskirts of this embattled city.
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    Mirrors in the Citadel Frame Shop, opposite Arbil's historic citadel, reflects the movements and energy of this prospering and peaceful Kurdish city in northern Iraq.
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    A wedding party near Halabja, signs of renewal and life in a once shattered city. Adnan Baram, 26, and Arazw Ahmad, 28, both live in Halabja. They had to flee to Iran during the chemical attacks in 1988 and lived there for one year before returning to Halabja to rebuild their lives.
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    A nervous Kurdish bride in the Syrian city of Afrin. At Kurdish weddings even their terms of divorce are pre-arranged.
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    Reflections of a Kurdish wedding in Diyarbakir, Turkey.
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    Hamina Khidhir Abdullah, born in 1955, gets her wounds cleaned and re-bandaged at the Emergency Rehabilitation Center, a medical center in Sulimaniyah. She is from the Alsho sub-district in Sulimaniyah province where she had gone to the mountains to look for wild fruits when a land mine exploded.
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    Kurdish woman harvesting lentils on Arab owned land in Syria, along the border with Turkey.
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    The Ishikveren Refugee Camp in Turkey was home to 200,000 Kurds from Iraq who fled after the Gulf War in 1991.
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    A mysterious moment in Ali Pasha, Turkey, the poorest district of Diyarbakir, where Kurdish families live on top of each other in squalid conditions.
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    More than 10,000 Kurds in Diyarbakir, Turkey celebrate the Kurdish New Year, called Newroz on March 21, the spring solstice. The 2003 celebration was marked by heavy security measures and some anti-US and anti-war sentiments.
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    Downtown Dohuk in Dohuk Province, Northern Iraq bustles with life.
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    The Mazi Supermarket and Dream City Amusement Park opened in Dohuk City, Northern Iraq in 1999 and 2002, respectively. The grounds of this development once served as an Iraqi military base where many Kurds were tortured and killed. It is fitting that a place that formerly instilled fear and tragedy in the Kurds is now a center of fun, consumption and relaxation for friends and family.
Kurds

The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a nation, numbering over twenty million people with a common language and culture. Kurdish history came to a virtual standstill after World War I, when the region known as Kurdistan was divided between five newly formed nations: Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and the former Soviet Republic of Armenia. This partitioning by the League of Nations obliterated thousands of years of Kurdish claims to the region and set in motion decades of domination, culminating in the ruthless chemical warfare waged against them by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government.

For a brief moment after the Gulf War, the Kurdish story commanded world attention, but it has since been relegated to the back page. In an age of disposable news, the Kurds are in danger of being quickly forgotten, even though their suffering continues with no end in sight. For the first time in modern history, the Kurds are semi-autonomous in Iraq. However, the genocidal campaign of the late 1980’s, combined with insidious oppression in Turkey and Syria, perpetuates the Kurds’ futile struggles to secure a homeland. Fighting to maintain their lives and their language, the strength and dignity of the Kurdish people is admirable. And for anyone who comes in contact with the Kurds, it is impossible to remain silent.

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