Yerewan – Two Yezidis may become future members of the Armenian National Assembly. In addition to the change of the country´s political structure, Armenia´s new draft constitution which is supposed to lead the country to a parliamentary system also provides for a quota for ethnic minorities. On 15th July 2015 the commission which is in charge of the draft published parts of the new constitution.

Article 89, Section 2 of the draft regulates the representation of ethnic minorities in the parliament. The proposed quota is supposed to reflect the percentage of an ethnic minority in Armenia. The Yezidis who comprise Armenia´s largest ethnic minority with around 1.3 per cent of the population could be therefore given two allocated seats. The currently valid constitution lacks such a provision.

According to the latest census over 40,000 Yezidis live in Armenia, many of whom have already emigrated for economic reasons, especially to Georgia and Russia. In Armenia, Yezidis are officially recognized as an ethno-religious group since 2012. The Yezidi religion is officialy recognized too and can be freely practiced.

Due to the persecution by Kurdish rulers and the Ottomans, Yezidis fled to the region of present-day Armenia over 100 years ago. Starting in 1915, the Ottomans conducted a genocide against the Christian peoples and the Yezidis. The common history of suffering brought both peoples, Armenians and Yezidis, closer together, resulting in the emergence of a long bond of friendship.

In the end of 2015 the National Assembly of Armenia will then have to decide whether to pass the draft constitution or not.