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Iraqi Color Festival

Mercury One, along with Jeremy Lock and D’Andra Simmons, traveled to Iraq to document Ranen’s cochlear implant being turned on and to witness her very first time hearing.

In what little downtime we had, we got to witness the festival of colors in Sami Abdulrahman Park, Erbil, hosted by the Nishtiman Youth Network (NYN).

The Color Fest was the first large gathering of Kurdish young people (aged 13 to 30 and some “young at hearts” like us) celebrating ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity in the region. This festival took place a couple days before their Independence referendum vote.

The event was hugely attended, and rightfully so, as it was a celebration of freedom and independence! With techno music blaring from the stage, they threw color powder in the air and at one another while a helicopter dropped rose petals from the sky. It was not too long ago that that ISIS controlled this region. It was incredible to experience and be part of this jubilation and celebration of normalcy and unity for all those that have weathered through turmoil and crisis.

On September 25, Kurdistan held their referendum vote with preliminary results showing huge majority support, cast in favor of Kurdistan independence. The referendum’s legality was rejected by the federal government of Iraq.

Here we are proud to feature some of the amazing photos taken by Jeremy that are worth so much more than a thousand words!

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