Yezidis headed for the Kurdistan Region during the ISIS invasion of the Shingal region in August 2014. Photo: Rudaw
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region—The Yezidi community around Shingal and the rest of Nineveh province now have a political party that held its first congress in Duhok this weekend and plans to run in Iraq’s parliamentary elections next year.
Haider Shasho who announced the foundation of the Yezidi Democratic Party and holds the position of its leader, told Rudaw that the ISIS invasion of their area in 2014 and the subsequent atrocities compelled them to form a party to defend them and fight for their political rights.
“After the disaster that befell the Yezidis in Shingal I felt that the Yezidis need a party that could serve them and defend them,” said Shasho. “At first we were a military force and as the threat of ISIS diminished we saw the need for a political party.”
At least 500 people, representing Yezidis and other minority groups across Iraq attended Shasho’s party gathering in Duhok.
The party’s main and only base for now is in Sulaimani, but they have plans to open Erbil and Duhok offices, too, Shasho revealed.
The new Yezidi party has been approved and licensed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and most recently by Iraq’s election commision.
Shasho, who has been leading an armed group since 2014 to face off ISIS in the Shingal region, said that his party intends to run in Iraq’s 2018 parliamentary elections.
“We will run in both Kurdistan Region and Iraqi elections,” he said. “We cannot predict the scale of votes we may get because there PUK and KDP and other parties have much following in our area, but so far most Yezidis support us.”
Shasho explained that the foundation of his party has been blessed by Kurdistan Region’s two main parties: The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The leader of the Yezidi party said that Shingal and other Yezidi areas must remain part of the Kurdistan Region and called on Erbil to include Shignal in the upcoming September referendum.