44 years after their genocide

Kurdistan Region president calls for compensating Feyli Kurds

ERBIL — On Feyli Kurds Martyrs Day, Kurdistan Region’s President Nechirvan Barzani urged the Iraqi government to fully compensate the Feyli Kurds, highlighting the historical injustices they’ve faced.

On April 4, 1980, the former Baath regime initiated a mass deportation of Iraqi citizens, primarily Feyli Kurds, to Iran, labeling them as “foreigners” or “of Iranian origin.” An estimated one million individuals were deported between 1980 and 1990, with half of them being Feyli Kurds. The Feyli Kurds speak the Feyli dialect of southern Kurdish and practice the Shia sect of Islam.

Barzani emphasized that the genocide of the Feyli Kurds, alongside efforts to eradicate them and other crimes against the people of Kurdistan, constitutes a dark and painful chapter in Iraq’s history, causing widespread suffering and instability.

“Today we commemorate the painful 44 years since the genocide of thousands of Feyli Kurds during the brutal onslaught of the [Ba’ath] regime in Iraq, targeting them for their Kurdish identity and support for the Kurdish movement with killings, imprisonments, expulsions, and forced disappearances. Their citizenship, possessions, and properties were confiscated,” he said.

Throughout the 20th century, Feyli Kurds endured significant hardships in Iraq. The Iraqi citizenship law of 1963 mandated the denaturalization of individuals deemed non-Iraqis, with Feyli Kurds disproportionately affected by these discriminatory measures, as they were subsequently classified as Iranians by the state.

This designation made them targets for persecution, especially after the Baath regime’s rise to power in 1968, leading to displacement and eradication campaigns. Approximately 40,000 Kurdish Feylis were deported to Iran in the 1970s, under the pretext of being of Iranian heritage. In 1980, the Baath regime’s Revolutionary Command Council issued Resolution 666, officially directed the Interior Ministry to revoke Iraqi nationality from any individual, whether foreigner or Iraqi, perceived as disloyal to the country.

Following the overthrow of the Ba’ath regime, in 2010, he Supreme Iraqi Criminal Court recognized the atrocities against the Feyli Kurds as genocide.

In his April 4th statement, President Barzani reiterated his appeal for the Iraqi government to comply with the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Court’s verdict, declaring these acts as genocide, and to adequately compensate the Feyli Kurds by restoring their citizenship, returning their properties, and addressing their grievances.

“We remain dedicated to continuous effort and support for this cause,” Barzani said. He also stressed the importance of learning from past injustices, suggesting that these historical wrongs should serve as lessons and motivation for a brighter future in Iraq, founded on coexistence and tolerance.

Despite the repeal of Resolution 666 in 2006, many Feyli Kurds still lack Iraqi identification. Last July, members of the Kurdish Feyli community protested in front of the Khanaqin district administration in Diyala province, demanding Iraqi citizenship documentation.

Hashim Nga, a member of the Feyli community, told 964media that despite extensive efforts to secure Iraqi citizenship for himself and his family, they remain without official documentation, which limits their access to educational opportunities and travel.

Abdulrahman Karim Darwesh, head of the Feyli Conference in Kurdistan, highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by Feyli Kurds in Iraq, stating, “The Feylis in Iraq have no rights; they are without identification and have been subjected to various penalties by past Iraqi governments. Even today, our rights in Iraq are overlooked.”

The Kurdish Feyli population is concentrated in areas contested between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi government, including cities such as Khanaqin, Badra, Jassan, Jalawla, Sharaban, Qazaniya, Sumer, and others. Significant populations also reside in Baghdad, Hilla, Najaf, Karbala, Nasiriyah, Basra, and other regions across Iraq. There is a large population of Feyli Kurds in Iran well, concentrated in the provinces of Ilam, Kermanshah, and Lorestan.

A sizable population of Feyli Kurds also resides in Iran, primarily concentrated in the provinces of Ilam, Kermanshah, and Lorestan.

Darwesh estimates the total number of Feylis across Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, to be close to two million.