Armenians of Dohuk Upset: Our Seat in Kurdistan Parliament Gone

A regular session of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament, Erbil, 2022. Media of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament

By Ammar Aziz

The Armenian component challenged the mechanism for distributing minority quota seats approved by the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq IHEC, per which the Armenian quota seat in the Dohuk Northern Province was canceled.

On May 6, the IHEC allocated five quota seats for religious and ethnic components in the Kurdistan Region of Iraqi KRI, distributed among four electoral districts. According to the distribution mechanism, two seats were allocated for Turkmen in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, three seats for Christians in Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, and Dohuk, while according to the decision of the Judicial Authority for Elections and the Commission’s spokeswoman, the quota seat in Dohuk was allocated to the Armenian component.

Yarvant Nissan Marcus, the only member of the Armenians in the previous session of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament (the fourth session), told KirkukNow, “We were shocked when we learned that the only quota seat for the Armenians went to the Christian component after it had been allocated to the Armenians.”

“If we had competed for this seat within the framework of the Christian component, from now on we will not be able to win it because our numbers are smaller.”

 "As a religion, we have no problem with the Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Assyrians. Our religion is the same, but as an ethnicity, we differ from them. Armenians are an ethnicity and must be dealt with on this basis."

If we compete for this seat within the framework of the Christian component, from now on we won’t be able to win it because our numbers is smaller

Marcos appealed the Commission's decision on behalf of Armenians and the appeal is scheduled to be responded to this week.

There are no accurate statistics available on the number of Armenians in Iraq. Some estimate their number at about 20,000 people. The head of the Armenian community in Dohuk says there are 3,000 people in the KRI, for 12,000 throughout Iraq.

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

The Commission distributed the five quota seats in the Kurdistan Regional Parliament following the Judicial Commission for Elections on May 20, to secure five quota seats for Turkmen, Christians, and Armenians, within the 100 seats in the Kurdistan Regional Parliament, with two seats in each of Sulaymaniyah and Erbil and a seat in Dohuk.

Khaled Abbas, the official of the Dohuk office of the IHEC, told KirkukNow, “The decision of the Board of Commissioners regarding the only quota seat in Dohuk was based on comparing the number of Armenians with the Chaldean Syriac Assyrians.”

“According to available data, the number of Chaldean Syriac Assyrians in Dohuk is estimated at 30,000 families, while the Armenians are estimated at 200. Therefore, the Commission decided that the quota seat would be in the name of Christians, and all Christians, including Armenians, could vote for the seat, and the seat would go for the one with the highest votes," he explained.

But Yerawant said, "We cannot enter into this competition, because our numbers are much smaller than them. In this case, we will not have anyone to represent us in Parliament."

In general, all religious and ethnic minorities are dissatisfied with the mechanism of how the quota seats are distributed, reducing their seats from 11 to five, and they prefer that the quota seats be within one electoral district and not four districts.

Farid Yaqoub, a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and a member of the fourth session of the regional parliament for the Al-Rafidain bloc, told (KirkukNow), “We previously asked the Kurdistan Parliament to amend the legal provisions regarding quota seats, including that they be in one electoral district, and that our citizens be allowed to vote for our candidates, but our demands were rejected."

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