Armenians Appeal for Minority Quota in Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament

An Armenian family displaced from Nineveh and residing in the village of Hauresk for nearly six years, Dohuk, June 2020. Ammar Aziz

By Ahmad Bulla, Nineveh

The Armenian minority in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI demanded that the Iraqi Federal Court to retain the minority quota seats in the regional parliament.

The Armenian complaint was submitted by an Armenian personality named Yarwant Nissan Marcus on May 12 against the Independent High Electoral Commission IHEC in Iraq on behalf of the Armenian component, according to him.

Yarwant Nissan Marcus, the only member of the Armenians in the previous round of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament (the fourth round), told KirkukNow, “After Masrour Barzani’s complaint, we saw that we also have the right to register a complaint against the commission. Our goal is to restore the quota seats for Armenians and other minorities.”

On February 21, 2024, the Federal Court issued a series of decisions regarding the Kurdistan Parliament Elections Law of 1992, including reducing the number of parliamentary seats from 111 seats to 100 seats and considering the Kurdistan Region four electoral districts, a move provoked religious and ethnic minorities whom lost 11 quota seats (five seats for Turkmen, five for Christians, and one seat for Armenians).

After months of controversy, on May 7, the IHEC decided to suspend the financial and technical procedures for the Kurdistan Regional Parliament elections, which were scheduled to be held on June 10, a day after a state order was issued by the Federal Court, based on a complaint by Masrour Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG, criticizing the mechanism of sharing the 100 parliamentary seats among four electoral districts and depriving minorities of quota seats.

 “We registered our complaint against the commission because it is responsible for distributing seats to electoral constituencies, and because of it, the quota seats for minorities were abolished, including the Armenian seat,” Marcus said.

“Under the Iraqi constitution, according to Articles 14 and 16, justice and equality among minorities must be observed, but it was not due to the measures approved by the Commission.”

There are no accurate statistics available on the number of Armenians in Iraq. Some estimate their number at about 20,000 people while the head of the Armenian community in Dohuk Northern Province says that their number in the Kurdistan Region is 3,000 people, while throughout Iraq hits 12,000.

The majority of Armenians reside in Baghdad, the Nineveh Plain, the city of Mosul, center of Nineveh Province, Kirkuk and the provinces of the KRI.

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