This is a short video report about a group of Yarsan refugees originally from western Iran and now residing under difficult circumstances in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Yarsan faith also known as Ahl-e Haqq or Kaka’i is an inherited and syncretic religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the 14th century. There are estimated to be around three million followers in Iran mostly residing in the predominantly Kurdish region in west of the country. There are around 150,000 more followers of the faith called Kaka’is who live in northern Iraq in the Kurdish region.
The Islamic Republic does not recognise the Yarsani faith. “The society of the Yarsan is forgotten because their faith is not officially recognised,” Sayyid Mehrdad Moshashaei, a musician and a singer said in the report. “It is an unofficial language and we have lived with a fake identity for years in Iran.”
Moshashaei’s daughter Mahshid who was detained in October last year for several days due to her activities during the protests following the killing of Mahsa Amini by the Tehran morality police, said that she is not able to continue her studies in the Kurdistan Region.
Mohammad Reza Dilaghi who works in a shop also complains about the harsh conditions. “In Iraqi Kurdistan, we are not refugees or asylum seekers, the value of the goods you see in this shop is more than us,” Dilaghi from the town of Sahne in Kermanshah province said.
The Kurdistan Region has hosted close to two million refugees and displaced people from Iran, Syria, Turkey and the rest of Iraq since 2003.
“We have no support here and our problems are more than the problems we had in Iran,” Moshashaei said. “We cant even get a basic sim card under our own name or we can’t rent a house… the bureaucratic system is very complex and backward here.”