Four Ethnic Minorities to be Represented in Armenian Parliament

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YEREVAN (A.W.)— Four representatives of Armenia’s major ethnic minorities have been elected to Armenia’s National Assembly (Parliament) in the recent Parliamentary Elections, which took place on April 2.

Arsen Mikhaylov

Three of them— Arsen Mikhaylov (Assyrian), Kinary Hassanov (Kurdish), and  Rustam Mahmudian (Yezidi)— ran for parliament representing the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) while the fourth—ethnic Russian Tatyana Mikaelyan—was nominated by Tsarukyan’s bloc.

The amendments to the constitution that were enacted in 2015 required members of ethnic minorities to be given seats in the National Assembly. This new code also required Armenian parties and blocs to have Yezidis, Russians, Kurds, and Assyrians among their candidates in the April elections.

In February, Yezidi activists had complained about this procedure in an open letter to Armenian President Serge Sarkisian, because they believed that the Yezidi community should be allowed to pick a parliament deputy in a separate election. The Yezidi community in Armenia is estimated to be around 40,000.

On April 6, the newly elected Yezidi lawmaker Rustam Mahmudian said that his election to parliament is a “historic” event for the Yezidi community in Armenia. Mahmudian is a constitutional law expert who has previously held senior positions at Armenia’s Judicial Department monitoring courts.

Mahmudian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that one of his first steps as a Member of Parliament will be to have the Armenian Parliament officially recognize the 2014 massacres of Yezidis in northern Iraq by the Islamic State as genocide. “In general, we will be engaging in legislative work for the sake of our country and all of its citizens and also presenting the interests of ethnic minorities if they require legislative solutions,” said Mahmudian.

The Assyrian community of about 3,000 people, will be represented in Parliament by Arsen Mikhaylov, head of the the Atur Union, Armenia’s leading Assyrian organization.

“Representatives of our communities in Europe came here [ahead of the April 2 elections] to campaign with us,” said Mikhaylov. “They also think it’s very important for us to have a deputy in Armenia’s National Assembly.”

Mikhaylov added that the educational and cultural issues that the Assyrians face will be better addressed through the National Assembly. Meanwhile, Kinary Hassanov, a Kurd from Armenia, thanked the Kurds and Armenians for supporting his election and promised that he would work hard to implement initiatives to serve the Kurdish people of Armenia, reported Iraqi based Kurdistan24 news.

Both Mikhaylov and Mahmudian ran with the RPA because they believed it would be easier to address the issues facing the community with the help of a ruling party rather than the opposition.






Source: Armenian Weekly
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