Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

"Now We Can Build Hope"

By Jamal Penjweny, Shwan Mahmood, Laura Ingalls
  • People were keen to vote in Halabja, the town Saddam Hussein targeted in a chemical attack in 1988. (Photo: Mariwan Hamarasheed)
    People were keen to vote in Halabja, the town Saddam Hussein targeted in a chemical attack in 1988. (Photo: Mariwan Hamarasheed)
  • An elderly woman waits in line to cast her ballot. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
    An elderly woman waits in line to cast her ballot. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
  • Young and old turned out in Sulaimaniyah. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
    Young and old turned out in Sulaimaniyah. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
  • A poll worker checks a voter's identification card. (Photo: Laura Ingalls)
    A poll worker checks a voter's identification card. (Photo: Laura Ingalls)
  • A Sulaimaniyah man looks over his ballot choices, including 111 candidate lists for the transitional National Assembly. (Photo: Laura Ingalls)
    A Sulaimaniyah man looks over his ballot choices, including 111 candidate lists for the transitional National Assembly. (Photo: Laura Ingalls)
  • A Sulaimaniyah woman smiles as she drops her ballot into the box. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
    A Sulaimaniyah woman smiles as she drops her ballot into the box. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
  • A woman gets some last-minute guidance before dropping her ballot into the box. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
    A woman gets some last-minute guidance before dropping her ballot into the box. (Photo: Shwan Mahmood)
  • "I don't think anything bad will happen, but we are taking every security precaution" - Abdullah Muhammad, security guard. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "I don't think anything bad will happen, but we are taking every security precaution" - Abdullah Muhammad, security guard. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "All we are doing is serving people and making the process a success" - Munira Abass, security guard. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "All we are doing is serving people and making the process a success" - Munira Abass, security guard. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "May God bless us all! We were greatly oppressed by the old regime. I hope it will not happen again." Nazeera Hassan, 67. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "May God bless us all! We were greatly oppressed by the old regime. I hope it will not happen again." Nazeera Hassan, 67. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "I am proud I was the first person to vote at my polling station. We are all happy; we should be proud of it" - Abdullah Hussain, 78, sits (foreground) with friends after casting his vote. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "I am proud I was the first person to vote at my polling station. We are all happy; we should be proud of it" - Abdullah Hussain, 78, sits (foreground) with friends after casting his vote. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "Most of the women are illiterate, so we need guidance. We are eager to cast our votes, because the process will decide our fate." Pakeeza Qadir reaches the front of the queue. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "Most of the women are illiterate, so we need guidance. We are eager to cast our votes, because the process will decide our fate." Pakeeza Qadir reaches the front of the queue. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "I am happy. May God grant us stability!" - Nasreen Ali, 68, whose ink-stained finger shows she has voted. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "I am happy. May God grant us stability!" - Nasreen Ali, 68, whose ink-stained finger shows she has voted. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "Hopefully the Kurds will win. I’m ill, but I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity" - Amina Salih. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "Hopefully the Kurds will win. I’m ill, but I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity" - Amina Salih. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "I don’t know how to choose, I’m waiting for my son to help me" - Zareefa Muhammad. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "I don’t know how to choose, I’m waiting for my son to help me" - Zareefa Muhammad. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "We are here to vote, and we’ll do our best to protect people. It’s a great achievement" - two peshmerga soldiers. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "We are here to vote, and we’ll do our best to protect people. It’s a great achievement" - two peshmerga soldiers. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "I haven’t seen any happiness in my life because of the oppression of former regimes. Now we can build hope." Azar Muhammad, 72, goes to one of the flat-pack polling booths. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "I haven’t seen any happiness in my life because of the oppression of former regimes. Now we can build hope." Azar Muhammad, 72, goes to one of the flat-pack polling booths. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "I am choosing of my own free will; no one will censor me" - Rahim Salih marks his finger to show he’s voted. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "I am choosing of my own free will; no one will censor me" - Rahim Salih marks his finger to show he’s voted. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "The voting process is a success" - Roonak Abdullah, polling station worker. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "The voting process is a success" - Roonak Abdullah, polling station worker. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • "Saddam killed my son, and I never saw his body. I am voting to prevent atrocities being perpetrated against us ever again" - Sadia Abdullah, 72, holds a picture of her dead son. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    "Saddam killed my son, and I never saw his body. I am voting to prevent atrocities being perpetrated against us ever again" - Sadia Abdullah, 72, holds a picture of her dead son. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • Parents brought their children to the polls to witness the historic vote. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    Parents brought their children to the polls to witness the historic vote. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
  • Sulaimaniyah officials provided transport to ferry voters to and from the polls. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)
    Sulaimaniyah officials provided transport to ferry voters to and from the polls. (Photo: Jamal Penjweny)

In Iraq’s Kurdish north, voters formed long lines to get their first chance in decades to make their voices heard. As they went in they expressed hope that this day would prove a turning-point for the Kurdish region and Iraq generally.

IWPR’s trainee journalists in and around Sulaimaniyah – one of 14 locations across Iraq where reporters were on assignment - took these photographs on election day, January 30, 2005.