Yezidi Leader Backs Sarkisian For Presidency

By Hovannes Shoghikian

Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
Aug 21 2007

A leader of Armenia’s Yezidi community on Tuesday urged its members to
vote for Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian in the forthcoming presidential

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.