Omar Saber - KirkukNow Only Kakaees left outside the Iraqi parliament’s quota system as the country is planned to hold the national elections after the Iraqi forces have retaken areas under the Islamic State (ISIS) last year. Kakaee voters complain of being denied a quota seat in the country’s Council of Representatives similar to other religious and ethnic minorities across the country. The Iraqi Council of Representatives consists of 329 seats, of which 320 seats are allocated to the provinces according to their population and nine seats were allocated as "quota" for minorities, five of them for Christians and a seat for each of the Sabean Mandaeans, Ezidis, Shabaks and Faily Kurds. The Iraqi Council of Representatives voted on February 11, 2018 to amend the elections' law of parliament; a quota seat for the Faily Kurds was increased in Wasit province; this was one of the changes made in the law causing criticism among the Kakaees, the only component without a quota seat in the parliament.
"For Kakaees to have a quota seat as their legitimate right, they first must be recognized as a different religion."A number of Kakaees in the district of Daquq 44 km southwest of Kirkuk where most of Kakaees located. Photo by: Yadgar Jalal / Metrography "The aim of allocating quota seats for the religious and ethnic minorities is to have representatives in the Iraqi parliament to advocate for their rights, but the Kakaees don't have a quota seat and they aren’t recognized by the Iraqi constitution," said Rajab Kakaee, the minority’s activist in an interview with KirkukNow. . "The subject has been discussed more than once, and efforts were made to set a quota seat for the Kakaees, but they can't have that quota seat because they are considered Muslims since the word "Muslim" is written on their national identification card addressing the religion of the card holder," Kakaee added. This comes at a time when the name "Faily Kurds" is not mentioned in the Iraqi constitution, but their attempts were paid off by securing a quota seat for this community in the amended elections' law. Kakaees follow their own religion, the "Yarsan" and they have a number of places for worship in Kirkuk, Nineveh and Halabja provinces, but the Iraqi constitution did not officially recognize their religion. "For Kakaees to secure a quota seat in future elections for the Council of Representatives, first they should be religiously distinguished because they are not Muslims and they follow the "Yarsan" religion; so the first step is to submit a draft law that recognize the religions not mentioned in the constitution," Rajab Kakaee further added. Iraq is home to a diverse mix of ethnic and religious groups, namely Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens) as well as other components such as Christians, Yezidies, Armenians, Shabaks and Kakaees. In 2005, the Iraqi constitution was approved, which recognized a number of religious and ethnic minorities. According to the elections' law, the quota seats for these minorities are allocated to represent them in the law -making body. In the past three rounds of the Iraqi parliament, no one was elected among the Kakaee community despite having candidates in the larger lists, yet those candidates were unable to secure the necessary votes to reach to the parliament.
“Some Kayees try to set a quota seat for the Kakaees as a way to protect themselves and advocate for their religious rights.”"Ethnically, we are considered with Kurds and religiously we are viewed as Muslims, therefore we are unrecognized as an independent ethnic and religious group".said Fahmi Kakaee, a well-known Kakaee figure, in an interview with KirkukNow. Kakaees live in a number of areas inside Kurdistan region and the rest of Iraq especially in Kirkuk, where the majority of this religious component is settled beside Halabja and Erbil provinces as well as the districts of Khanaqin, sub districts of Mandali and Jalula in the Diyala province. In addition to Qaraqush district in Nineveh Plain northwest of Iraq. According to unofficial statistics, the number of Kakaees in Iraq is estimated to be more than 100 thousand. Similar to other minorities such as Turkmens, Christians, Ezidis, the Kakaees were the subject of displacement, violence and abuses committed by ISIS's militants in mid-2014 and continued into late 2017; Many Kakaees remain homeless. Kakaees in the district of Daquq (44 km south of Kirkuk) carried weapons against ISIS's militants to protect their areas in mid-2014 and they were able to prove themselves and attract a wider attention. Fahmi Kakaee said he believes that despite the constitutional and legal impediments preventing the allocation of a quota seat for this religious component, yet part of the problem is related to Kakaees themselves as they don't want to be recognized as followers of a different religion and they continue to consider themselves Muslims. As for their ethnicity, some of them view their component as Kurds therefore they don't want to be ethnically distinguished from the Kurds. "A group of Kakaee activists, lawyers and intellectuals seek a quota seat to ensure having a representative in the parliament; this would give the representative an opportunity to advocate for their rights far better than now, " Kakaee said. Kayee have had representatives in the Kurdistan Region since early 1990s; Falakadin Kakaee became the speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament in 1992 on Kurdistan Democratic Party's list; he also served as Minister of Culture of the Kurdistan Regional Government from 2005 to 2009. A quota seat has already been granted to the Kakaees in the town of Halabja, which was officially claimed as a new province indie KRG.
"If they enjoy security and stability, Kakaees work to achieve their rights, such as fighting for a quota seat similar to other religious and ethnic minorities.""The territories where Kakaees reside are crossroads between Kurds and Arabs therefore the Kakaees are afraid of being constantly targeted; for the Kakaees seek alliance with the majority located in order to protect themselves," said Lisa Falakadin Kakaee, a young female politician of KDP, in an interview with KirkukNow. "If they enjoy security and stability, Kakaees work to achieve their rights, such as fighting for a quota seat similar to other religious and ethnic minorities," she said. Kakaees are eehtnic Kurds and they also speak Kurdish; Fahmi Kakaee said that it is better for Kakaees not to distinguish themselves from the Kurds, because the Kurds were subjected to sharp divisions and they do not wish to witness another split form the side of Kakaees. The Kakaees has not submitted a proposal to the parliament asking for a quota seat yet, which is the only practical way to get into the parliament, Zana Rostayee, and Iraqi lawmaker member of the Legal Committee in the Iraqi parliament told KirkukNow, Kakaees have not taken such step so far.