Shia Kurds Go it Alone

By Salam Jihad in Baghdad (ICR No. 100, 25-Jan-05)

Shia Kurds Go it Alone

By Salam Jihad in Baghdad (ICR No. 100, 25-Jan-05)

Friday, 18 November, 2005

“As Failis, we took part in helping the Kurdish movements during their struggle against the dictatorship of Saddam, and now we are gaining our own results,” said Farhad Ali, a 34-year-old Faili trader.

“For this reason we have decided to run in the election without anyone’s help.”

The Failis, Shia Kurds who live in Baghdad and the border area between Iraq and Iran, see the election as an opportunity to have a voice in government at last.

They faced severe repression under Saddam Hussein, who in the early Eighties accused them of being Iranians and deported hundreds of thousands of them, confiscating their property and identification documents.

Twenty years later, two political parties are representing the Failis in the forthcoming election. The Islamic Union of Iraqi Faili Kurds is going it alone, standing as a separate party; while the Free Faili Kurdish Organisation is running in the Justice and Future list together with the Democratic Justice and Progress Party.

Said Rajab Rahim, secretary general of the Free Faili Kurdish Organisation, said his group was approached by the United Iraqi Alliance, the top Shia list, and by the main Kurdish list which unites the two big Kurdish parties. But neither coalition offered a good enough placing on its list of candidates.

Each party vying for the 275 seats in Iraq’s transitional National Assembly has drawn up a list of candidates, ranked first to last. The seats will be allocated according to the percentage that each party wins in the nationwide election.

“The Kurds asked us to join their list offering two seats for us, but we refused because that quota did not satisfy us, and we didn’t know the position of the two names on the list,” said Rahim. “The parties in the United Iraqi Alliance asked us to join their list with 12 names, but we were sure that the names would be put at the bottom of the list.”

Rahim said the Faili Kurds have a strong political platform and an established movement which succeed on its own. His group’s election manifesto includes gaining back Faili rights, their Iraqi nationality and property, as well as supporting a constitutional state which is democratic and ensures religious and political freedom.

“We hope that justice can lead in all Iraq,” said Rahim.

Salam Jihad is an IWPR trainee journalist in Iraq.

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