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Kurds in Armenia

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Title: Kurds in Armenia  
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Subject: Kurdish population, Abovyan, Armenian parliamentary election, 1919
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Kurds in Armenia

The Kurds in Armenia mainly live in the western parts of Armenia. The Kurds of the former Soviet Union first began writing Kurdish in the Armenian alphabet in the 1920s, followed by Latin in 1927, then Cyrillic in 1945, and now in both Cyrillic and Latin. The Kurds in Armenia established a Kurdish radio broadcast from Yerevan and the first Kurdish newspaper Riya Teze. There is a Kurdish Department in the Yerevan State Institute of Oriental studies. The Kurds of Armenia were the first exiled country to have access to media such as radio, education and press in their native tongue[1] but many Kurds, from 1939 to 1959 were listed as the Azeri population or even as Armenians.[2]

Yezidi Kurds in Armenia

The Armenian general Dro and the Yezidi Kurd Cengir Agha struggled together in 1918-1920 particular in the Battle of Bash-Aparan which was a battle against the Turkish army on May 21, 1918 during the Turkish-Armenian War, when the Turkish Army invaded the newly independent Democratic Republic of Armenia.

According to the 2011 Census, there are about 35,272 Yazidis in Armenia.[3] According to a 2007 U.S. Department of State human rights report, "As in previous years, Yezidi leaders did not complain that police and local authorities subjected their community to discrimination".[4] A high percentage of Yezidi children do not attend school, both due to poverty and a lack of teachers who speak their native language.[5] However, the first ever Yezidi school opened in Armenia in 1920.[6] Due to the ethnic tension created by the war with Azerbaijan, the Yazidi community has renounced its ties with the mostly Muslim Kurds that fled the country and tried to establish itself as a distinct ethnic group. The Yezidis showed great patriotism fighting with Armenians during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, when many died in service.[6]

Muslim Kurds in Armenia

The historical threatment from Armenia toward Kurds, especially Muslim Kurds can be explained with that Armenia is disappointed with the fact that some Kurdish Muslim tribes in northern Kurdistan participated on the Ottoman Empire's side during the Armenian Genocide, but it is also true that Kurds hid and actually saved Armenians from the massacres.

In the Democratic Republic of Armenia of 1918–1920 the Kurds received political rights: a Kurdish representative elected to the Armenian parliament, some Kurds became officers of Armenian army and organized Kurdish volunteer units.[7]

During the Soviet period a large number of Kurdish literature was published in Armenia, national schools and radio were opened. According to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, the Soviet Armenia was the main center of Kurdish literature.[8]

During the period of stalinism in 1937, the Kurds in Armenia became victims of forced migration, thousands of Kurds were forcibly removed from Armenia.[9]

According to the director of the Center of Kurdish research, the situation with Kurds in Armenia today is normal and there is not any open untolerance.[10]

In 1925 more than fifty schools were opened for the Kurds of Armenia.[11] Thousands of Kurds were deported from Armenia in 1937.[12]

In the period between 1992-94 the population of the former Red Kurdistan region was forced to flee due to the Nagorno-Karabakh War. This autonomy was established by Lenin that was disbanded by Stalin who agreed to the Ataturk's request (the significant part of inhabitants of Red Kurdistan deported to the Middle Asia and Kazakhstan).[13] Red Kurdistan was not actually Kurdistan according to the Kurdish map and borders. Armenia has effectively occupied the former region Red Kurdistan as it is used as a crucial land corridor that connects Armenia with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Kurdish-Armenian cultural relations

Prominent Armenian composer Komitas notated many Kurdish folk songs included "Lur dalur". Komitas was a guest of Hasan-agha in Aslan village, where he participated at the Kurdish evenings. Komitas loved the Kurdish popular art and in 1897 he made a diploma research at Berlin Conservatory on Kurdish music.[14] Armenian writer Vrtanes Papazian translated the legend of "Lur dalur" into Armenian.

Armenian poet Hovhannes Shiraz used the motives of Kurdish legend in his famous poem "Siamanto and Khjezare".

Prominent Kurds of Armenia

  • Saladin was a Kurdish[15][16] Muslim who became the Sultan of Egypt and Syria. He led the Islamic opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant.
  • Hajie Jndi was a Kurdish writer. He wrote the "Help" revolutionary roman (1967), short stories and works on Kurdish culturology.[17]
  • Amine Avdal (1906-1964) was a Kurdish writer. He studied at Yerevan State University. Since 1930s Avdal published poems ("Spring", "Three brothers"), tales, etnological researches both in Kurdish and Armenian languages.[18]
  • Shakro Mgoi is an Orientalist, member of Armenian National Academy and editorial staff of "Ria Taza" Kurdish newspaper. He published 14 books included the first academical publication of "Kurdish history" research.
  • Charkaz Rash is studied at Yerevan Pedagogical University and is an author of poems and literary researches in Kurdish and Armenian languages. He is also the editor of "Mesopotamia" journal.

See also


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