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Minorities in Kurdistan Region discontented and seek further rights

Minorities in Kurdistan Region discontented and seek further rights
Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets with members of a Christian party in Erbil, June 22, 2019. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)


Peregraf- Masoud Hadi

Ethnic and religious minorities in Kurdistan Region are expecting to be assigned more positions and are seeking to achieve all their rights so that they can participate in the government and local administrations, especially in their areas.

In different parts of Kurdistan Region, there are Christians, Turkmens, Yazidis, Shabaks, Kaka’is, Mandaeans among many others, whose rights are legally recognized.

“If we make a comparison between Kurdistan Region and Iraq, we see many differences as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have protected the rights of the Christians to a great extent,” Haysem Patros, a Christian activist in Duhok, told Peregraf. But he also has complaints concerning the details and believes that their rights are being violated.

According to the statistics which Peregraf obtained, 220 000 Christians live in Kurdistan Region, predominantly in Duhok and Erbil.

“In the rural areas, social and religious violations of human rights have been observed,” says Haysem Patros.

As an example, the Christian activist mentions that only in Duhok, at the beginning of the 1990s “more than 50 Christian villages were invaded.”

“All the political parties intervene in our affairs and violate our rights; we are being deprived of governmental positions. In Duhok, for instance, we do not have any supreme administrative position even though we are large in number,” he added.

In the KRG’s Council of Ministers, however, the Christians have a minister, and in the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, they have a separate directorate of their own. Furthermore, in 111 seats of Kurdistan Parliament, 11 seats are reserved to the minorities; 5 for the Christians, 5 for the Turkmens and 1 for the Armenians.

Aiden Marouf, Minister of State for Minority Affairs, who is from Turkmen community, told Peregraf, “the minorities’ rights are protected to a good extent, but that does not mean they are given all their rights.”

At the beginning of this year, Kurdistan Parliament passed in absolute majority an act concerning the official commemoration days of the Turkmen, related to the language and newspaper day of the minority.

Aiden Marouf says that the holiday of the Turkmen language was mentioned previously in the Act of Minority Rights. However, it has been fixed in this new act and November 17 is set for the day.

The Act of Protecting Minorities’ Rights in The Kurdistan Region was passed in Parliament in 2015, in which any discriminations based on ethnic and religious differences are banned. In addition to the basic rights of mother tongue, education, respecting their beliefs and ceremonies, the act also gives the minorities the right of administration and participation in legislation and government.

Karwan Ba’erde, a Yazidi activist, claims that it is necessary that the law prohibits every assault on any religion, divinity and belief from other ethnic groups.

“The religions in Iraq are gathering themselves and experiencing a transitional stage. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the minorities are still unaware of their rights, be it in Kurdistan Region or in Iraq,” Ba’erde told Peregraf, adding that the rights of the minorities concerning religion and other ceremonies are protected in Kurdistan Region.

Even though the Yazidis have asked for positions and responsibilities in Kurdistan Region numerous times, they have not been granted any positions in KRG and no seats are reserved for them in Kurdistan Parliament.

“Compared to Iraq, KRG has managed to grant the minorities their rights and has taken them into consideration. This shows the positive side of KRG,” said Karwan Ba’edre.

Adhering to the current cabinet of the KRG, the law asserts the coexistence, refuses any discrimination and emphasizes the roles of all ethnic groups.

Minorities in Kurdistan Region discontented and seek further rights

2020-02-28 09:18:53


Peregraf- Masoud Hadi

Ethnic and religious minorities in Kurdistan Region are expecting to be assigned more positions and are seeking to achieve all their rights so that they can participate in the government and local administrations, especially in their areas.

In different parts of Kurdistan Region, there are Christians, Turkmens, Yazidis, Shabaks, Kaka’is, Mandaeans among many others, whose rights are legally recognized.

“If we make a comparison between Kurdistan Region and Iraq, we see many differences as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have protected the rights of the Christians to a great extent,” Haysem Patros, a Christian activist in Duhok, told Peregraf. But he also has complaints concerning the details and believes that their rights are being violated.

According to the statistics which Peregraf obtained, 220 000 Christians live in Kurdistan Region, predominantly in Duhok and Erbil.

“In the rural areas, social and religious violations of human rights have been observed,” says Haysem Patros.

As an example, the Christian activist mentions that only in Duhok, at the beginning of the 1990s “more than 50 Christian villages were invaded.”

“All the political parties intervene in our affairs and violate our rights; we are being deprived of governmental positions. In Duhok, for instance, we do not have any supreme administrative position even though we are large in number,” he added.

In the KRG’s Council of Ministers, however, the Christians have a minister, and in the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, they have a separate directorate of their own. Furthermore, in 111 seats of Kurdistan Parliament, 11 seats are reserved to the minorities; 5 for the Christians, 5 for the Turkmens and 1 for the Armenians.

Aiden Marouf, Minister of State for Minority Affairs, who is from Turkmen community, told Peregraf, “the minorities’ rights are protected to a good extent, but that does not mean they are given all their rights.”

At the beginning of this year, Kurdistan Parliament passed in absolute majority an act concerning the official commemoration days of the Turkmen, related to the language and newspaper day of the minority.

Aiden Marouf says that the holiday of the Turkmen language was mentioned previously in the Act of Minority Rights. However, it has been fixed in this new act and November 17 is set for the day.

The Act of Protecting Minorities’ Rights in The Kurdistan Region was passed in Parliament in 2015, in which any discriminations based on ethnic and religious differences are banned. In addition to the basic rights of mother tongue, education, respecting their beliefs and ceremonies, the act also gives the minorities the right of administration and participation in legislation and government.

Karwan Ba’erde, a Yazidi activist, claims that it is necessary that the law prohibits every assault on any religion, divinity and belief from other ethnic groups.

“The religions in Iraq are gathering themselves and experiencing a transitional stage. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the minorities are still unaware of their rights, be it in Kurdistan Region or in Iraq,” Ba’erde told Peregraf, adding that the rights of the minorities concerning religion and other ceremonies are protected in Kurdistan Region.

Even though the Yazidis have asked for positions and responsibilities in Kurdistan Region numerous times, they have not been granted any positions in KRG and no seats are reserved for them in Kurdistan Parliament.

“Compared to Iraq, KRG has managed to grant the minorities their rights and has taken them into consideration. This shows the positive side of KRG,” said Karwan Ba’edre.

Adhering to the current cabinet of the KRG, the law asserts the coexistence, refuses any discrimination and emphasizes the roles of all ethnic groups.