Between Rights, Political Participation and Opposition: The Case of the Yezidi in Syria (Rojāva)

Majid Hassan Ali, Seyedeh Behnaz Hosseini


After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the Kurdish Protection Units, Yakīnayyin Pārāstnā Gal (YPG) and Yakīnayyin Pārāstnā Jin (YPJ), took control of northeastern Syria where they formed the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) in the three districts of Al-Jazīra, Kūbāni, and ʿAfrīn. The DFNS was established as a self-governing project with a special political and administrative system that emphasizes the rights and political participation of all ethnic groups and religious minorities in those provinces.

The Yezidi, as a religious minority, are scattered throughout these provinces and are engaged in some of the local administrative institutions. They also form their own civil society institutions, though there is some resistance from within the Yezidi community.

There is also a Yezidi political organization opposed to the policies of self-government that accuses Rojāva’s Kurdish authorities of marginalizing the Yezidi and other religious minorities’ political participation. However, the Yezidi participate in the area’s political and civil organizations while retaining their religious rights within this framework. In this paper, we will discuss the Yezidis’ participation and representation within the autonomous institutions and the political opposition in Rojava.

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