A leader of Armenia’s Yezidi community on Tuesday urged its members to vote for Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian in the forthcoming presidential elections.
Aziz Tamoyan said the decision to endorse Sarkisian’s presidential bid was made by the leadership of his organization which claims to represent Yezidis living in and outside Armenia. He said the Union of the Yezidis of the World believes that ethnic minorities in any country must “stand by their government.”
“I have already called on the Yezidi people to vote for Serzh Sarkisian in the presidential elections,” Tamoyan told reporters.
Yezidis are Armenia’s largest ethnic minority, numbering an estimated 40,000 members. Some of them consider themselves non-Muslim Kurds.
Tamoyan’s leadership of the mainly rural community is disputed by other prominent Armenian Yezidis. They have not endorsed Sarkisian or any other potential presidential candidate yet. Yezidi leaders pledged their and their community’s allegiance to three different Armenian parties in the run-up to last May’s parliamentary elections.
Tamoyan spoke to journalists outside the main government building in Yerevan where a small crowd of Yezidis gathered in protest against the August 15 explosions in northern Iraq that killed several hundred local Yezidis. The protesters urged the Armenian government to help to protect their brethren living in the war-torn nation. They then marched on to the nearby United Nations office in Armenia.