Woman returns from Sweden to run for Yezidis in Iraqi elections

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By Rudaw
Ronak Ali Yazdin, 34, is from Shariya in Duhok province. Photo: Yazdin FB
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A Yezidi woman living in diaspora for 10 years has returned to her homeland to try to win a seat in Duhok for the Iraqi parliament and is using social media to widen her campaign.

“With your efforts, the Yezidis can have a strong presence in Baghdad. This is what you all hope for, and this is what I will work for. I will work for you in order to guarantee your rights and communicate your voice to the decision centers with strength and courage because you and I represent you with great responsibility and honesty,” candidate Ronak Ali Yazdin posted on her Facebook page.

She told Rudaw she has returned to her hometown of Shariya in Duhok province to campaign and explain to voters that she will defend the rights of Yezidis in the Council of Representatives in Baghdad.

Most Yezidis in Iraq are from the Shingal region in the northwestern parts of Nineveh province. In August 2014, more than 6,000 members of the religious minority were taken captive by ISIS when they swept through northern Iraq, committing genocide against the Yezidis. Nearly half of the abductees remain unaccounted for.

Around 200,000 or about half of the Yezidi population in Iraq fled into the Kurdistan Region or Syria in 2014. Many still remain in camps in the Duhok province, saying they fear safe returns and will need basic services.

“To rescue our mothers and sisters from ISIS hands, to end living at camps and help return them home, to help recognize the case of Yezidis at international centers, I will need your trust and votes,” she wrote on another Facebook post.

Official election campaigning began in the Kurdistan Region on April 15. Yazdin is running on the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) list.

Despite being out of the Kurdistan Region for 10 years, her campaign’s Facebook page has more than 37,000 likes and followers. She has used to platform to reach out to younger voters, to show she can meet with political leaders, and to meet with religious leaders like Baba Sheikh.

“I visited His Excellency to check up on his health and wish him long life,” she wrote.

Yazdin, 34, is married with two children.

The KDP list in Duhok consists of 22 candidates, including eight women. Duhok has twelve seats, plus one for Christians.

In Iraq’s parliamentary elections on May 12, 503 candidates (357 men, 146 female) will try to win 329 seats. Iraq has a 25 percent quote system for gender.

Vian Dakhil from Shingal is currently the only Yezidi MP in Baghdad. The KDP politician is not running this year.