Fair treatment components enjoy in Kurdistan Region does not exist in Iraq, KRG minister of communities

Erbil, September 2022: Aydin Ma'roof, Minister of Communities' Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Media of minister’s office.

By Farman Sadiq in Erbil

Aydin Ma'roof, the Minister for Communities Affairs, described the situation of the communities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI as very good compared to Iraq criticizing Baghdad that no governor of one of the 18 Iraqi province is Turkmen.


KirkukNow: You have been in the ministry for three years. What are the most obvious problems of the communities in the KRI?

Aydin Ma'roof: They have problems and we are trying to solve it, including education and schools. In some areas they have problems with participation in the local government. In some areas they have land problems, yet none of it is political, mostly public services and education.


 KirkukNow: Which communities have education problems?

Aydin Ma'roof: Turkmen Nation as the second ethnicity in KRI. Though they have directorate of Turkmen education which supervises 18 schools: 15 in Erbil and three in Kifri (district, they still have curriculum and examination problems. In the last two years, we have noticed that no Turkmen student passed high school examination, may be due to problems in translation of exam questions from Kurdish to Turkmen so this should be addressed. The same for the Syriac education.

We have demanded that model schools be opened for the Turkmen and Syriac and to be given special treatment in the employment of staff because they are small in number.


KirkukNow: You are also a member of the Political Bureau of the Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF. Do you think the situation of the Turkmens in the Kurdistan Region is better than other parts of Iraq?

Aydin Ma'roof: You may ask a Turkmen in Kirkuk or Tala'afar and they will have different opinions, but as a Turkmen in Erbil, I think it is very good in the Kurdistan Region. For this we can rely on the reality that exists; For example, there is a Turkmen minister in the Kurdistan Region. We want to have a minister as a third nation in Iraq. We believe that IKR have been fair to the Turkmens yet the Iraqi government is not.


 The Iraqi government has been unfair toward the Turkmens


 KirkukNow: Do you mean that the situation of all communities in the Kurdistan Region is better than in the areas under the control of the federal government?

Aydin Ma'roof: They are in good shape in the Kurdistan Region and there is better coexistence than Iraq. The Kurdistan Region pays more attention to the rights of the communities. They have representatives in the Ministries of Culture, Education and Endowments and the (Iraqi) Kurdistan Region presidency IKRP, and more importantly, they work freely and are not under any political pressure.


KirkukNow: What have you done to provide religious freedom for the Ezidis (Yazidis) and Christians who fled to the Kurdistan Region because of the war against ISIS?

Aydin Ma'roof: All communities, including Yazidis, Christians, Turkmens, Shabaks, Kakais and Baha'is, have been welcomed in Kurdistan and are free to practice their religion .They have been displaced and cannot return to their homes because of the threat posed by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), despite the Shingal (Sinjar) agreement between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad.


KirkukNow: According to our investigation, there is a wave of migration among the Ezidis and Christians. How can you curb it?

Aydin Ma'roof: We have tried and met with them. We must protect these two communities. We are on the line with the United Nations for this, but there is a political side for this issue. The presence of illegal armed groups in these areas threatens the return of Ezidis and Christians to their homeland, so they need normalization and armed groups should be eliminated from these areas.


 KirkukNow: These areas are under the control of the federal government so why it is not taking that step?

Aidan Ma'roof: Iraq is not serious about clearing these areas of armed groups.


 KirkukNow: The Baha'i community in most parts of Iraq cannot worship freely. What is your opinion?

Aidan Ma'roof: The Baha'is are an indigenous community in Iraq. They should not be expelled and they have the right to perform religious rituals in the cities where they live.


 Outlawed armed groups threaten and prevent the return of Ezidis and Christians to their homeland


KirkukNow: According to some Kurdish party officials, there is a process of Arabization in Kirkuk and several other disputed areas after the events of October 16, 2017. Do you think there is the same threat to the Turkmens?

Aydin Ma'roof: Arabization is a wrong and risky policy. As the Turkmen community, we are against it and we believe it will be a threat to the Turkmens as well. Therefore, we are against Arabisation since all components should coexist and administer the city.


KirkukNow: The Turkmen, Christian and Armenian communities in the Kurdistan Parliament have quota seats. Do you think the Kaka’is also deserve quota seats?

Aydin Ma'roof: They have requested and we have conveyed their request to the relevant parties. We are even in favor of all ethnic and religious communities being represented. This is their right and should be included in the electoral law.


KirkukNow: There is a debate about the Iraqi Kurdistan region electoral law and its amendment. What is the main demand of the Turkmens?

Aydin Ma'roof: We are in favor of the communities going to the elections in one constituency and not participate in the special vote, because the amendment will include seats of quota for components (minorities).

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