Muhannad Sinjari - Ninawa Hlwei Shmo is a Yezidi IDP who has decided to take part in the parliamentary elections. Although he does not believe his act could possibly end the suffering of Sinjar people, he wishes for change. “Although I don’t believe in these elections, I still vote. I want to keep my vote so others cannot use it. I do not believe that the upcoming elections can change the situation of the IDPs, but I wish for change,” Said Hlwei, who has been a resident of a Sheikhan district (north of Mosul) camp for four years.
IDP voting cards have not been heeded well.Hlwei’s wish, which is the wish of many other Yezidi IDPs, has faced many obstacles, especially lack of enough evidence to issue a voting card so they will be able to take part in the elections. Faisal Khansori, a Yazidi activist and IDP in Birsafi camp in Duhok said the IDPs undergo a difficult financial situation, and they cannot visit the registration offices to renew their information and receive voting cards, as the offices are located far from their camps. Despite that, Khansori said, “The relevant parties have not given much attention about IDP voting cards and opening registration offices in the camps.” In the last four years, 360 Yazidi citizens have become refugees and more than a 100 thousand have migrated, according to the statistics of the General Department of Yezidi Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG]. Ilias Abdulla, a Yezidi IDP, insisted on the wish of IDPs to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections on 12 May, in order to appoint their “voice and representative of their sufferings”, despite the obstacles, including lack of voting cards. Four Yazidi lists, and a number of other political parties, compete on winning the votes of this component in Ninawa province with 50 candidates. “There is negligence in encouraging the IDPs to receive their [voting] cards,” said Ayda Babir, a Yezidi IDP in Bork Community north of Sinjar. She believes that Yazidis should be encouraged to visit the centres of IHEC.
Yazidis insist on taking part in the elections despite obstacles.She railed against media outlets for their “neglect of IDPs” and said, “Most of those IDPs who renew their cards are government employees, military and security officers of the federal government and KRG.” She urged IHEC centres to facilitate the procedures for IDPs, especially those who are not able to visit the centres to renew their information. IDPs vote in four ways in the elections, some through biometric card, others through electronic cards, short-term cards, or conditional voting. Ido Ibrahim, director of the North Section of IHEC in Sinjar district said, “IHEC gives all Sinjar people voting cards, even those people who have lost their official documents, including voting cards, on the basis of IHEC data of 2014.” He revealed that around two thousand families have not left Sinjar Mount since 2014, and the majority of them have lost their official documents. They are to receive voting cards without asking for their old cards, only by depending on the information of the previous election. In Faida town (south centre of Duhok), IHEC has opened Domiz Centre so the IDPs in the province can receive their voting cards through it, without returning to Sinjar. Majority-Yazidi areas, especially in Sinjar district (120 km west of Mosul) have not yet been normalized for life, although they were recaptured by peshmerga forces in November 2015. The IDPs await their return, through the government or other parties. Among them is Hlwei Shmo, who wishes for change after the elections, in order to return to his home and end the suffering of being displaced.