Yezidis visit Lalish temple on Chwarshama Soori (Red Wednesday) to celebrate the new year (Sere Sal) in April. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Yezidis want a quota seat in the Kurdistan Region parliament in time for the next election, as is the case for other ethnic and religious minorities.
"We gave a quota proposal for the leadership of the Kurdistan parliament to devote some seats to Yezidis. Time is running out for the next parliamentary election, so PUK and KDP have to do something, devoting a quota seat to Yezidis in Dohuk," Sheikh Shamo, a Yezidi MP in the Kurdistan parliament, told Rudaw.
Estimates of the Yezidi population in Iraq sit at around half a million, traditionally concentrated in the Shingal, Bashiqa, and Duhok areas. About 250,000 fled Shingal when ISIS attacked in 2014 and many are still sheltering in Duhok province.
"Our Turkmen and Christian brothers have quota seats in the parliament. We had martyrs and our people displaced, so we ask the government to at least give us quota seats," spiritual leader Mir Tahsin Said Beg told Rudaw.
In the past four terms of the regional parliament, Yezidi candidates running on party lists obtained between one and three seats.
Yezidis have one quota seat in the Iraqi parliament, though the court has ordered they should have more to reflect size of the population.
A member of the legal committee of the Kurdistan parliament said the Yezidis have a legitimate right to a quota seat.
"Yezidis deserve to have a quota seat because they experienced lots of suffering, including genocide. It is right for Yezidis to have a quota seat as Turkmen, Christians, and Armenians living in the Kurdistan Region," said Shwan Sheikh Ahmad.
There are 111 seats in the Kurdistan Region parliament, 11 of which are reserved for minorities and shared among Christians, Turkmen, and Armenians.
Kurdistan will hold parliamentary elections on September 30. Political parties have until June 7 to register.