Iraqi Kurds go to the polls on Monday to take part in a historic referendum on their future. Should the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region remain part of Iraq, or become an independent country?
Thousands have died fighting for an independent Kurdistan, and tens of thousands of civilians were killed by Saddam Hussein’s army.
This is a nonbinding vote but Kurdish leaders hope it will be a major step toward nationhood. That would be the realization of a long-held dream for many.
But some are unsure. A generational gap has emerged. Many young people have lost faith in their aging leaders. They want jobs, opportunity and freedom before anything else.
Ahead of the referendum, we spoke to young Kurds in Erbil, their region’s capital city, about how they were voting. This is what they said.
Produced by Alex Newman; edited by Alex Leff. Reporting and images by Richard Hall in Erbil, Iraq.