The International Observatory on Statelessness


Seven thousand Feili Kurds reside in Iran with no nationality certificates, denying them their basic rights to health care, employment, and education. Beginning in the 1970s, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime stripped citizenship from these Kurds (who are Shiite Muslims, unlike the Sunni Muslim Kurds of northern Iraq), claiming they were truly Iranian and expelling them to Iran. The peak of expulsions resulted in around half a million Iraqi Kurds in Iran, stateless with no protection. In 2005, the new Iraqi Constitution provided that Iraqis who had been stripped of their nationality could apply to restore it, as well as their rights and property. Since Saddam’s downfall, most of these Kurds have repatriated to Iraq. Those who remain fear insecurity within Iraq.

Like most Middle Eastern countries, Iran only accepts citizenship derived from the male parent. Women are not allowed to pass on their citizenship to their spouses or children.