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Hero TalabaniHero Talabani. Hero went to the mountains with her husband, as a peshmerga, guerrilla fighter.  “But I fought with my camera, not with a gun,” she told us.  As Kurds’ fortune changed, Hero emerged a successful video producer and filmmaker. In 2005 her husband Jalal Talabani was elected the first Kurdish President of Iraq.

Atia_Saeed_headshotDr. Atia Saeed. Dr. Atia’s activist stance made the gynecological surgeon and professor a target of Saddam’s regime. When she fled Iraq to escape death, her mother was murdered in her stead. Nevertheless, Dr. Atia returned to Erbil to educate the next generation of Kurdish women doctors.

Miriam OthmanMiriam Othman. Like many Barzani widows, Miriam Othman lost everything the morning the men were “disappeared” from Quosh Tape. Nevertheless, she persevered, raised her remaining six children, and returned to Barzan to rebuild her life.

Miriam_Rashid_headshotMiriam Rashid. Young Miriam was a poll watcher in Barzan during the December 2005 Iraqi election.  “We have exchanged bullets for votes,” she proudly explained. A former refugee raised amid destruction, Miriam studied architecture at university in Erbil to prepare to participate in the rebuilding of Barzan.

SHAB-still-02_croppedSheikh Abdullah Barzani. As soon as the Western allies secured the area, Sheikh Abdullah returned to Barzan and set up housekeeping in a pup tent near the river. His wife Faema soon joined him in a one-room mud and stone house they built with their own hands.  “You see, no one can destroy Barzan,” Sheikh Abdullah insisted to surprised reporters and NGO workers in 1991. Barzan owes its very existence to Sheikh Abdullah.

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