Our Friends, Our Foes: The Kurds



BY HENRY D. ASTARJIAN M.D.

The inheritance of my generation of Armenians is the legacy of our parents and grandparents, who survived the Genocide, especially the atrocities committed by the Kurds. Even after almost a century, talking to the post-Genocide Armenians about the Kurds generates anger, disgust, hatred, belittlement and at best indifference. However to-day’s realities mandate a cool, close look at these people who share land with us in South Eastern Turkey, which we call Western Armenia, and they call Northern Kurdistan. So are they our friends or foes, or both?

The stories passed on to us speak of the criminal, at least hostile, acts against Armenians perpetrated throughout centuries, especially in the late 18th century by Kurdish tribes leading to the Great Genocide of 1915.

Who are these people who have historically influenced our way of life, threatened our existence, and continue to shape our future?

Ethnic jokes and anecdotes portray the Kurd as ignorant, socially and developmentally retarded group of nomads, who are Muslims, just barely so -according to the Turks- who consider the Kurd a Muslim only when compared to the Giavour-the Infidel (Giavoura baqaraq Kurd Musluman).

Historic facts document their criminal and civic profile as uneducated, uncivilized tribes who, for the last five centuries, have survived in Anatolia through extortion, robbery, individual killing, mass killing, rape, kidnapping, and in general collaborating with the Ottoman authorities to oppress the Armenian Nation, and the other Christian minorities.

So, who are the Kurds? What is their genealogical origin? Where did they come from?

All that really matters not! What matters is that they have lived with us for four thousand years, and sometimes been our friends and often our foes, not to say enemies. Our histories have intermingled; we have allied ourselves with the Ottomans against them, they have done the same against us, and at times we have joined forces with them against the Ottoman government. Example: the 1845 armed uprising of Prince Badrkhan, in a coalition with the Armenians, against the Sultan. Prince Badrkhan believed that “The Armenians and the Kurds are Arians, belonging to the same race, one tribe accepted Islam, and the other remained Christian”. He even allowed intermarriage, though it is doubtful that any Armenian married a Kurdish girl.

I met his great grandson Saif Badrkhan who lives in California, a highly educated decent human being, who even gave a brief speech in one of the April 24 gatherings in LA condemning the Genocide. He arranged for me to deliver speeches in Kurdish American conferences in California and Maryland. I did! The meetings were crowded by people, whose appearance and existence alone changed my view of the Kurds. Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that whomever I met had a PhD. or masters degree in some scientific or business field. Polite mannerism reflected civility during the official speeches, and during dinners and social hours. Ladies, graceful in their charm and traditional Kurdish gowns mingled with men, and danced shoulder to shoulder.

I was given a seat in the front row. There was an empty chair to my left; I thought it might have been planted there deliberately, because Kurds, all from Turkey, came to shake my hand, and sit on that chair to share thoughts and “Secrets” with the “Representative of the Armenian People”, which I was not, nor did I claimed to be. A few of them posed a rhetorical question:  “Why are the Kurds Muslims, what have we gained by being Muslims?” at least a dozen or so told me, on promise of anonymity, that their grandmother is Armenian. I was not shocked. A few years later I heard the Kurdish explanation of kidnapping our girls, which I will discuss later.

The theme of these meetings, were inarguably political, inarguably nationalistic, and inarguably designed to advance the cause of “United Free Kurdistan”. It was an eye opener! For the issue was not limited to the Iraqi Kurdistan, liberation of the Kurds from the atrocities of Saddam Husain, but Pan Kurdism and establishment of a united, free, sovereign  Kurdistan expanding from the Araratian planes in present day Turkey to Kirkuk and Mandali penetrating deep into Iraq. Needless to say, it included the six Armenian vilayets, the jewel of which being Van.

I said my word, loud and clear, from the podium, the gist of which was: yes we have the same cause, yes we have a common enemy, yes there should be an alliance between us, but each party has its own interests and rights for which to struggle. There should be no dispute between our two Nations, we are partners in destiny, our rights were spelled out, in detail, in the provisions of the Sevres Treaty, which was then refined and mapped by President Woodrow Wilson. It is to our advantage, and in detriment to Turkey, to stick to this map and the provisions of the Sevres Treaty.

I got standing ovation all three times, but not necessarily as endorsement of my expressed ideas. They were, I believe, happy for my exposing Turkey for what it is: an occupier, an oppressor of other nations, and a violator of human rights.

In one of the meetings I met Nijyar H. Shemdin (Agha) the son of Hajji Shemdin Agha of Zakho, Iraq. My uncle Doctor Krikor Astarjian was one of Shemdin Agha’s close friends, and his family’s physician. Through the Agha, and other Aghas whom he canvassed, he was instrumental in tipping the League of Nation’s Plebiscite held in the early 20’s, in favor of Iraq. In this plebiscite the Kurds of Mosul voted not to join Kemal Ataturk’s Turkey, thus joining the newly formed Kingdom Of Iraq. We both were happy to find each other and recall the memories of yesteryears.

Events guided me to participate in the festivities of the first anniversary of incorporating The Kurdish Parliament in Exile, which was incorporated in The Hague, and established itself physically in Brussels. Ten European countries had recognized them, and or lent support to this democratic institution. The Parliament was established by Turkey’s Kurdish exiled Parliamentarians. They had fled Turkey at the time when other Turkish “Deputan” were stripped of their parliamentary immunity and arrested, like Leyla Zana, for supporting “The Kurdish Cause”.

The organizers had elected Yasar (Yashar) Kaya as President of the Parliament. I had met him in one of the Kurdish meetings in California, where he also had delivered a speech calling for Kurdish Unity. He, together with Zubeyir Aydar, the chair of the Executive Committee (Originally representing Siirt in the Turkish Parliament) came to welcome the representative of the Tashnag Party -which I was not.- They took me to dinner in an Italian restaurant. I let them initiate conversation. They apologized for Kurdish tribes’ criminal acts against the Armenians. They said “These killers were of certain tribes who are doing to us what they did to you; they are killing us, raping our women in front of assembled villagers, they are burning our villages, and hamlets, and they are deporting the civilians into internal exile, the difference is that they did not send them to Der-Zor. You had the Hamidiya Alaylari, and we have these criminals, the Korujus. They are on Turkish Government’s payroll”.

They further developed the conversation to talk about Kurdish kidnapping of our children. They said “We don’t dispute that, but look at it from our venue; we knew that
those kids will face a certain death in the desert of Der-Zor, so we saved their lives, and we always told them they are Armenians”. They did not say that they converted them into Muslims.

They got, on and on, into the litany of the Genocide, expressing profound sympathy to the survivors, and their offspring. I listened and listened to this sincere me-a-culpa, until it became repetitious, at which time I told them what I told the Parliament in a televised speech the following day. The gist of my speech was simple: That I am not here to demand sympathy or demand apology from the Kurds. I am here to affirm the Armenian Nation’s right to some of the land you are living on, and to our adherence to the provisions of the Sevres Treaty. That our relationship with the Kurdish Nation is not based upon ideology, but it is based on land rights, and demands in Western Armenia.

Both Kurdish and Belgian TVs televised the proceedings.

Our relationship with the Kurds is a complex one:

  1. We are allies by necessity; the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
  2. They definitely look up to us, yet we look down upon them. We are wrong; Kurds have advanced in every imaginable field beyond anyones imagination, certainly beyond mine.
  3. Whether we like it or not, they are our neighbors, we better understand them.
  4. Other than Western Armenia, there is, for them, the issue of the “Red Kurdistan”-Lachin, Kelbajar, Fizuli. For us the case is closed!

So, are the Kurds friends or foe? Probably both! Smart approach to this seemingly impossible situation will make them, in my opinion, our friends, much more than our foes.

One caveat: though I kept our leadership fully informed, I had no endorsement, nor ANY kind of support from them. In this endeavor I was not representing anyone but myself. Others might have been under different impression.

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51 Comments

  1. Frank said:

    Kurds were once Armenians
    You can tell this from their songs,culture ,langauage
    Their looks resemble Armenians
    I have had many ideas to bring them back to the Armenian family.
    Most of the time people thought my ideas were ridiculous.
    Once I told a friend that we should  form a confederation of some sorts with the Kurds and he said are you out of your mind.
    It is true that one of the main things seperating Kurds from Armenians is Religion. 
    We can always talk to them about Christ

    • KRIKOR said:

      REALLY INTERESTING FRANK, WE SHOULD THINK ABOUT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, GREAT LONG FUTURE PLAN MIGH BE. INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!!! 

    • Kareem said:

      Kurds were, are & will not be Armenians, they are Kurds, every nation and ethnicity tries to say Kurds are Arabs, Persians, Turks and so on, but Kurds are KURDs and nothing else, they are proud of being on their own, and they see no one as better than themselves.

    • Umeed said:

      The Kurds are not Armenian they are different ethnicity, but they both are brothers because they both from ARY rise.
      And we have a lot of Armenian families I mean thousands… living in Kurdistan region of Iraq, so back to the religion I think the earth is not for any ethnicity it is for everybody but the bad government like turkey massing around with human binges lives.

    • Arman said:

      My friend, if you honestly believe that Kurds were once Armenians, and taking into account your listed reasons as to why you think Kurds were once Armenians, then I’m convinced you’re not aware of the fundamental facts. Number one, the Kurds are descendants of the Medo-Persians; there was a land called Media and its people Medes; Media was located in Northwestern Persia, very much where ancient Assyria is. And the Medes were bitter and ruthless invaders and oppressors of Armenia. You’ll find this in John M. Douglas’s book “The Armenians.” Secondly as to their culture and language, as others have said here, it’s far closer to Persian. If you go to YouTube and look at videos of Kurds fighting the Turkish Army, you will see their Peshmerga mountain fighters and PKK members all over the mountains of Iran, Iraq and Turkey, and they dont look like Armenians, unless you count the ones mixed with Persians or Arabs. Some Kurds do look Indo-European, however, like some Persians do. As far as religion is concerned, Kurds are mostly Muslims or Yezidi, a highly secretive and indigenous religion which for a time was speculated by many outsiders to involve devil worship. There is a Kurdish folk tale that says the Kurds were created when devils kidnapped virgins and mated with them. Regardless of that, I quickly went to wikipedia right now and searched “Kurds” and the very first paragraph ends with “….Kurdish is an Indo-European language of the Iranian branch. The Kurds are classified as an Iranian people.”

      • Frank said:

        Hi Arman!
        The issue of proving who has Armenian roots is complicated and the best way to speak is with references to those who have done research.
        Long time ago you didnt have this many nations around the world you just had 1 group of people.
        I personnaly like to trace people from their language.
        I think it is very effective but you have to observe carefully.
        For example when youe listen to a person speaking Turkish and Arabic you will never know that a lot of words are shared by the same people.
        When you observe carefully you will see this.

        I know Tukish well and when I observe other languages I see that Turks stole words from everyone.
        A simple example is pants and their way of saying this is pantalon.
        so Turkish is a Micky Mouse language
        If you go very far back the origin of all people is Mount Ararat.
        I think most Armenians would  like having Kurds as our fellow people.
        Also we would not like to have Turks as our fellow people.

  2. Joseph said:

    Some of the Kurdish tribes; Sheko, Dersim (mostly Alevi Kurds) were once indeed Armenians and were sympathetic to Armenians during the genocide. Some of my relatives were smuggled out of Western Armenia by Dersim Kurds and thus were fortunate enough to be saved because of their kindness. These tribes would later face genocide in the 1920’s at the had of Ataturk.
    The problem arises that there are other factions/tribes who ceaselessly do the Turks bidding, they were Hamidye during the 1890’s, part of the “Special Organization” during WWI, and their offspring are now “Village Guards” used in the oppression of fellow Kurds.
    I believe we must take up the common cause with the Kurds, we face the same enemy who is trying to destroy both of our peoples. Armenians and Kurds must start to slowly build a foundation together.

  3. Haro Mherian, Ph.D. Mathematics, UCLA said:

    Kurds have their origins in the Mittani kingdom, which would make them closer to Assyrians than Armenians. But since Assyrians are very close to Armenians, indeed Kurds are our brothers. Unfortunately, they have so many tribal divisions that an idea of confederation is doomed to failure, even for Kurds themselves, let alone with Armenians. Perhaps, Barazani was their latest chance to unify, but it did not work out back then. The key to unification is perhaps in the realms of the Yesidi religion, if all Kurds unify under the Yesidi religion, they will be able to unify themselves from where we can talk about the confederation between Armenian, Kurds, Assyrians, Pontic Greeks, Aghuank and a few other minority almost extinct nations.
    There are however too many “if”s…

  4. Joseph said:

    Some of the Kurdish tribes; Sheko, Dersim (mostly Alevi Kurds) were once indeed Armenians and were sympathetic to Armenians during the genocide. Some of my relatives were smuggled out of Western Armenia by Dersim Kurds and thus were fortunate enough to be saved because of their kindness. These tribes would later face genocide in the 1920’s at the hand of Ataturk.
    The problem arises that there are other factions/tribes who ceaselessly do the Turks bidding, they were Hamidye during the 1890’s, part of the “Special Organization” during WWI, and their offspring are now “Village Guards” used in the oppression of fellow Kurds.
    I believe we must take up the common cause with the Kurds, we face the same enemy who is trying to destroy both of our peoples. Armenians and Kurds must start to slowly build a foundation together.

  5. Kurmanco kurdi said:

    The kurds have medians roots and without asks old than you armianians in this regions. We kurds are a proud  nation and if you armenians look under to kurds than we can only laugh about that. our culture is that from mezopatmie we kurds have the first cilvilisations in the history of human kind. no one can laugh above us.

  6. Kurmanco kurdi said:

    Today only the kurds tells the puplic that armenians were killed by turks. If you armenians try to make jokes about kurds than you can be very quick unpopular in the eyes of kurds, so than noone tells in turkish puplic that the armenians were killed. The proud kurds of that time were killed too, not only the armenianns. I hope you habe heard something about Seh Said or the Dersim massacre. And not every kurd is moslem. Do you have heard something of Yesid kurds. The kurdish culture is that big that in theier is  many religion. And without the kurds today they didint exist islam ( Sultan Saladin). And he showed the whole world who a proud typical kurd behaviour and dont killed the christians. We kurds rescued many armanian children that is true and we integrate them in our society and our society is a moslem society. We dont try to assimilate them, we have only tried to be to them like to be to our own  children. And i think that for you teh armenians must be thamkfull

  7. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    Kurds have never been Armenians’ enemies. The Turkish Governments in Ottoman times as well as in Republican times were and remain Armenians’ and Armenia’s as well as Kurds’ foe and enemy. All men with kind mind – including kind Armenians and kind Kurds – need more light in Anatolia.

  8. harutiunyan said:

    Enemy of my enemy might be my enemy as well. Because the animosity is multifaceted, and might be fake.
    Kurds have advanced? A joke tells about a hedgehog saying “Appearance is deceiving” after climbing down of a brush. Kurds of California do not represent the Kurdish inhabitants of Van. They actually do not want this be different. Muslim looks for a moment to put back interest of another Muslim above anything, after he gets what he wants from a Christian
    Understanding a Kurd? Do not trust a Kurd. If an Armenian cannon trust a Turk – Kurd’s master, he must not trust a Kurd in a first place. Armenians have been given many lessons. Before they were eager to get the wealth and land of neighbor Armenian, today eager to use the political power of a prominent Armenian journalist to advertise their cause.
    For us the case is closed! By advertising Kurdish cause, any Armenian journalist jeopardizes the Armenian cause.

    • Calleigh Stuart said:

      Dear Harutunyan: Your comments really depress me, first of all, they are incredibly ignorant. As an American, not Armenian or Kurd, I have roamed  for the last 5 years, all over Turkey and spent most of my time in the Kurdish and Armenian areas, from Diyarbakir to Van. Yes, there are a few Kurds who are ignorant but most I met there expressed great remorse about what happened to the Armenians. They are the people in Turkey who are NOT in denial, not only remorse but sympathy, yes, some felt guilty, they’d heard stories from their grandparents and the terrible images do not leave their minds. The Alevi Kurds of Dersim were very close to the Armenians and created a kind of “underground railroad” to get them to safety (and were later massacred by the Turkish Republic, 70 thousand innocents slaughtered by Turks). Kurds and Armenians of today should form the alliance that Turks are so paranoid about. You can’t know how many timesTurks have accused me (because I am writing about the Kurdish issue) of being “paid by the Armenians”.  Your comments are really an embarrassing to me as someone who feels a great interest and sympathy (and devotion to history) of Armenians and Armenia.

    • TruthandJustice said:

      Thank you, Harutiunyan, for having the courage to state the truth. Kurds were brought into Armenia/Asia Minor  (the native land of Armenians and Armenians alone) a few centuries ago by their Turkish masters to oppress and butcher the native Armenian population. It’s preposterous that any Armenians would refute historical and archeological evidence and make outlandish and untrue claims that Kurds have been living with Armenians for thousands of years of  or are descendents of Mittani or Hurrians or Medes. They are not from Asia Minor and are invaders occupying Armenian lands the same as Turks. Their maps of “Kurdisatan” even contain the modern day Republic of Armenia on it. So called “apologies” and “sympathies” are worth less than nothing when the existence of our nation is threatened every second of every day. Wake up Armenians and stop promoting the tyrannical “cause” of our enemies who have tried to do nothing but wipe Armenia and Armenians off the face of this planet and steal everything that belongs to us. 

      • Calleigh Stuart said:

        Dear So called Truth and Justice,
        Maybe before you spend another minute writing ignorant screed on a website, you might take a bit of time to read and learn about history. If all Armenians were like you, ignorant, full of hate and as narrow minded and stupid as the Nationalist Turks, Armenia wouldn’t have a chance. Thank god you are a rarity. The Kurds don’t want Armenia, they are simply trying desperately not to be wiped off the face of the earth, not to have their language obliterated. Most Kurds — even the poorest sheep herders in lands that were once full of Armenians know what happened and are haunted by it. The Alevi Kurds  of the Dersim region were definitely there 3000 years… they had generally good relationships with the Armenians and helped Armenians to escape during the genocide, and they paid for this in later years by being bombed and gassed by Ataturk, partly in revenge for what they had done. The Turkish government, from Ottoman times on, has used one minority against another, you are simply playing into this ancient game. You have the choice to be a puppet, and go on spouting angry nonsense, or to educate yourself and try to figure out a strategy to beat the monster that is Turkey, a monster that is fed and supported by the USA.

  9. Viken said:

    Kurds are not Armenians, and never were. Linguistically, all their various dialects are more related to Persian (Iran) than to Armenian. But one thing is certain: they never came from anywhere, they were there since the beginning, just like us. The newcomers in the region are the Turks, under their various guises (Ottoman, Tatar, etc.).
    But the idea of a confederation is not something to be taken lightly: it may hold the key to the future. In 1908 the ARF came forward with the notion of the reorganizing the Ottoman Empire into a confederation of the various people living in it. It must have been a very potent formula for the advancement of the region, because the “powers to be” did everything to prevent such an outcome, including the wiping out of the Armenians, and thus set the region back for another century.
    As for talking to them about Christ… be ready to hear in return their spiel about Mahomet.
     
     

    • Papken said:

      That’s not true. Some Ottoman Sultans decided it would be a good idea to dilute the Christian presence in Eastern Anatolia and basically actively encouraged/forced Kurds to move there. Kurds have had a longer presence around places like Tigranakert, but around say Van or Mount Ararat, they haven’t been there for more than a few hundred years.

      • Dino Ajemian said:

        The idea presented in this article that Kurds have been living on the Armenian Plateau for 4,000 years is simply ludicrous. After the 1520’s when the ottomans took over the Armenian highlands there was constant warfare with the Persians. The population was Armenian, Alevi Zaza and Shiite turks. The Sunni ottomans brought in Sunni Kurds to protect the ottoman supply lines from insurgents sympathetic to the Persian  cause. Over the next century, the Sunni turks massacred and drove out Shiite turks and the persians removed Armenians and other peoples from border areas the most famous being the 1603 relocation of Armenians by Shah Abbas.
             The Kurds did not even settle down north of the Anti taurus until mid 19th century which is the heartland of Greater Armenia and thats when the real problems between Armenians and Kurds started. The murders of 200,000 Armenians and destruction of 600 villages in 1894-1896 was done in large part to satisfy kurdish land needs. 

                 Actually it was a vicious cycle: After the 1849 famines kurds decided to end their nomadic ways and settle down, they increased their molestation of Armenian villagers to dispossess them of their property and women, Armenians petitioned the Ottoman government for protection but were ignored, Armenians started self defense organizations which led to our political parties, armed Armenians went after those who did crimes against the Armenian people, the turks and kurds decided to create the hamideye to pacify Armenians who sought justice, which led to the culling of 200,000 Armenians and the kurdification of 600 villages of the Armenian Highlands.

        All in all, the ruination of the Armenian people is due in large part of the kurdish invasion of the Armenian Plateau. How can their be unity with Sunni kurdish tribes that murdered us, dispossessed us from our land, worked hand in hand with the turks yesterday, work for them today and will work for them in the future.

            Not all Kurdish tribes are bad. The kurds who want freedom can only have it if Armenians, Assyrians, Alevi Zazas and Yezidis can go back to their ancestral villages and that those Sunni Kurdish tribes that have worked for the turkish government killing Christian and non Christian alike in the past and today must be removed from the east if peace and harmony is to be achieved.

  10. Selahattin said:

    As a Kurd i defend the idea that the Armenians should live on the land so-called West Armenia along with us. We are NOT foes. We are NOT enemies.We just do not want the Turks here. We are not just ready to apologize for the crimes that our ancestors did but also ready to live together and govern ourselves on the common land. I think there is no Northern Kurdistan nor Western Armenia.There is a Peace Land calls not Turks  but Kurds and Armenians get together and live peacefully.We want our neighbors back.Please comeback.

    • Hairenakitz said:

      Dear Kurdish friend,
      Thanks for your compassion toward Armenians and their right living in ‘SO-CALLED’ Western Armenia. —- just a reminder: Never-ever use ‘SO-CALLED’ when you’re talking about Armenian Reality, such as Genocide, and Western Armenia. Thanks
      Certainly I, as an Armenian, support Kurds and Kurd’s right to govern their own lands.

    • Dino Ajemian said:

      If there were not turk loving Kurdish tribes in eastern turkey my friend, Kurds would have their freedom by now. The soultion is to not only get rid of the turks from eastern so called turkey but get rid of the tirbes that work for them. More than half of the kurdish nation is turkified. They are the reason real kurds can not breathe free. Those tribes are sitting on Armenian and Assyrian lands. That is why they work so hard for the turkish government. The litmus test for a freedom loving Kurd is will you give up land that belonged to Armenians, Assyrians, Yezidis and Alevi Zazas? If a church was converted to a mosques will you give it back to the original owners and let it become a church again? Will you fight against the abduction of non moslem girls? Kurds who answer yes to this are the ones who want freedom. Those who answer no probably are friends of the staus quo and thus enemies of kurdish freedom. The turkified kurds have no place with freedom loving kurds. They need to go live with the turks not on our land brother.

    • Arman said:

      Kurds can not possess Western Armenia, where they currently live after the Genocide happened. The Turks really killed two birds with one stone-they got rid of the Armenians and settled with the Kurds by saying to them “kill the Armenians and take their homes and land.” Today, after almost a century of Armenian abscence, the Kurds’ population in Western Armenia has skyrocketed to at least 12 million, but that can not be enough to say that Kurds now own that land-they don’t. They simply live there because Turks gave them permission to kill and take from Armenians. Kurds belong south of Lake Van’s mountain ring, past which the terrain slowly begins to resemble the mountain deserts of Iran and Arabia, terrain the Kurds call home….but terrain that became killing fields for Armenians in World war One.

  11. Hrair said:

    Hi Frank, I think we need to talk. I have  similar ideas about Christian, Muslim, turkofied, kurdofied Armenians, about establishing a new cultural, social organization that will stress on the unity and will celebrate the diversety of all. This will prove to be a huge asset for the Armenian nation and cause in general.You can ask for my info. from the editor of Asbarez . Thank you.

  12. Frank said:

    Is there one nation that did not harm us and is there anyone we can trust now.
    We all know what the answer is to that
    There comes a time when you have to give people a chance.
    We all heard of how Kurds slaughtered us and took Armenian babies to be their own.
    That was than and I dont see them as being hostile to us now
    If you look at Turks there is this hostility on both sides and that is not the same with Kurds.
    I dont know many Kurds ,I just met one a year ago and he seemed like a nice person.
    That does not mean anything.
    The language issue is something we can discuss another time.
    But you have to observe very careffully their words.
    I dont know Kurdish and I am sure there are many words that can be traced back to Ancient Armenia.
    A fellow wrote a book about Gyspesies and that all Gypsies speak the language of the land they live in.
    For example in spain they speak spanish and in Turkey they speak Turkish and so  on.
    However all gyspies wherever they live use some words that are Armenian and are used by all Gypsies everywhere
    This was in a Book written by an Armenian.
    He was assuming that Gyspies were Armenian in Anatoloia and Turks attacked them a they dispiersed and that how Gysies started their origin.
    There are many words Armenians share with other nations like Iran,India and many more.
    This is a long subject and if one studies this then they can be sure that the origin of many nationalites are Armenian,I think all but that is really hard to proove.

    Now back to the Kurdsih issue.
    We are not going to hand over everything to the Kurds and we cannot take people for idiots than you have no basis for a common ground.
    I would strongly urge ARF to make a plan to present to the Armenians and Kurds as soon as posssible and since they did have a propositon of this kind in 1920 than that idea is not far fetched.

    There have been times when non Armenians decided to become Armenians
    So harutiunyan dont be so negative and have faith .

  13. Pingback: Our Friends, Our Foes: The Kurds | Asbarez Armenian News | Armenia News Station

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  15. Hairenakitz said:

    Well done ‘Henry Astrajian’, an interesting personal eperience about ‘Kurdish’ reality from Armenian perspective (that we mostly don’t have an answer). ‘Kurds, Our Friends or Foes’, as you mentioned rightly, sometimes we were allied with the Ottomans against them, and some other times they were allied with Turks against us, and rarely we were together against Turks… but certainly we were the final looser! ——- Whatever many Armenian dreamers in diaspora may say here, there is no more Armenian soul left in ‘Western Armenia'; but mostly Kurd. It’s foolish and naive to think that Kurds will hand over what belonged to us if one day those lands were freed by their own struggle. ———— Diaspora had 90 or more years to form a government in exile and establish itself, but didn’t. Diaspora had more than 90 years to establish an understanding between ‘Western Armenia’ & ‘Kurds’, which didn’t! ———— So! What are we claiming? Our lands? How? And even if we succeeded with our claims… what are we’re supposed to do with millions of Kurds already living in there? —————- And certainly if one day Kurds succeed to form an autonomous Kurdistan in our claimed lands…. then no Kurdish apology of their past atrocities will be stopping war.

    • Arman said:

      There is only one way to stop war……First, Western Armenian territory  is returned to the rest of Armenia according to Woodrow Wilson’s plan. Second, the Kurds have an independent and fully sovereign State of Kurdistan which shall stretch from the mountains south of Lake Van all the way south to the Syrian and Iraqi borders. In Norhtern Iraq where the Kurds have won for themselves autonomy, they would be wise to remain a part of federated Iraq and benefit from what hopefully will become a great and viable state again. Third, Turks must confine themselves to the remaining 70% of the Anatolian Peninsula and give up plans to wipe out Anatolia’s native inhabitants or play games of social engineering with them. After the above mentioned steps are taken,  Kurdistan and Iran can win another valuable ally by attempting to resurrect the Assyrian nation (which is currently stateless yet is originally from what is today called Iran and Iraq, especially Iraq’s Nineveh region which was ancient Assyria’s capitol) and giving it some territory. In the same manner, Armenia should invite the descendants of Pontic Greeks who lived in the Pontus Mountains under Ottoman rule, and who were promptly eradicated with Armenians during the Genocide. The Pontic Greeks even inhabited some parts of Georgia until World War Two, but the historic record clearly states that nearly 300,000 Pontic Greeks were wiped out by the end of World War One, who with many tens of thousands of Christian Assyrians, died during the Armenian Genocide.  The above mentioned statement is Turkey’s unthinkable nightmare, because modern day Turkey is built on the ashes of all these nations. Without the above mentioned statement’s implementation, future war is virtually guaranteed. 

  16. Hrair said:

        I found this article to be interesting , yet the amount of arrogance and opinionated rhetoric , the negative stereotypes about our neighbor nations  (Kurds and Turks) are definitely are  counterproductive and naive at best, and as such unbecoming to any serious dialog and subject matter. It is not a secret that the genocide, the catastrophe of genocide had huge and lasting impact on the psychology of the Armenian nation, one that trough this day hinders and prevents objectivity. Thankfully, the new generation of Armenians are looking at the whole issue more objectively, free from emotional baggage the genocide survivors and their subsequent generations had to deal with. Respecting the loss, pain and suffering they went trough, it is the duty of the new generation to free itself from inherited baggage tainted with emotionality and to be more objective. All the subject nations in the geographic area in question have been making LOVE together more then war, we like it or not. The Armenians and Kurds come from same core, mother- local roots; the modern Turks as we know it most likely have 60 to 75 % Armenian blood in them, they like it or not. We all have so much in common, that to let all this be undermined in a fruitless , negative practice of “ us verses them” is a shame and a waste that no one subject nation can afford. The cultural lines are so close and  go so deep and enrich each other so fundamentally that we all need to deal with it with special care and affection that it doesn’t get undermined in the political context and interest zone.
           The losses and suffering of the Armenian nation as the result of the genocide is immeasurable, and the validity of the Armenian cause and rights are beyond question and inalienable. We owe it to our martyrs to recognize all the Muslims who saved Armenians by risking their own lives, may they be Turks, Kurds, Arabs or Persians during and after Genocide. We need to emphasize on our common humanity and the human factor. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to free ourselves from emotionality and deal with this objectively, respecting, recognizing and engaging with the new healthy segments that do exist within our neighbors, people like Orhan Pamuk, The head of the recently outlawed Kurdish political party (sorry unable to remember his noble name, Ahmed Turk?), Taner Akcham, and so on so forth… We need to talk if we want to live together in the area, if we want to resolve issues.  Name calling, arrogance and emotionality will not benefit any one. We need to recognize what unites us, then sit down and sort out the difficult inheritance left as the result of the Armenian genocide.  

     

  17. Sero said:

    Don’t know really where to begin. As a kurd I was a bit chocked when I read the article. I didn’ t know that armenians had such a hatred against the kurds. I don’t even think that kurds feel such hatred against the turks whom we have fougt for nearly 100 years. Why does it matter to you if kurds where armenians from the beginning or not or what religion they have? What should matter is how they are today. Being armenian/kurd won’t make me a better person if I’m a bad person! I feel really sad for what happened to the armenians and even more so to know that kurds where involved in the genoicide. I have a lot to say but it won’t fit here. /Serhat- M.Sc Aeronautics

  18. Roostam said:

    I highly encourage the good doctor and all the commentators to look up a bit about history, and get off their ivory towers of ignorance and hatred. First of all, Kurds and Armenians are of different heritage and ancestry (just look up wikipedia). Second of all, the Armenian genocide was carried out by the Ottoman Empire, which paid people across the empire (at the threat of killing them) to conduct the genocide (think about the choices they had, whether they were Kurds, Arabs, Turks, Martians, or other Christians?) Third of all, this article is at best poorly-written, highly emotional and unorganized. While the conclusion comes closer to reality, the beginning is nothing but a rant. What use is it? What is the goal?
    Or was our good doctor paid by the Turkish lobby to turn the attention away from Turks into Kurds when it comes to the Genocide issue?
    Let’s all grow up and have realistic pride and goals that we can work towards. Keeping on hating Kurds because of ignorance and misinformation will only breed more hatred. If that’s what you want, then well done.

  19. Haro Mherian, Ph.D. Mathematics, UCLA said:

    OK, guys, listen to what I am saying. I know kurdish (Yesidi Kurdish), my grandfather was saved by Kurdish shepherds from the Genocide. He lived among Kurds in Zakho and was raised Armenian and Christian (i.e. they did not assimilate him). These Kurds however are different from the other Kurds that participated with the Turks during the Genocide (and before that). Besides the Suni/Shiit religion differences, Kurds have different tribal group issues. Often one tribe would hate the other and can easily result into a fight between them, and yes they have killed each other. The Barazani Kurds were formed from the mountainous Kurds, who never invaded Van (they were mostly nomad shepherds and not “talanji”). These are the good Kurds (from our perspective). Their lands extend till the current northern borders of Iraq (e.g. Zakho, Mousol, Erbil, Karkuk, etc.), so there is no claim about Van or Ararat regions. The Kurds that participated in the Genocide along with Turks, are mostly the current Kurds inside the de facto Turkey borders (with some exceptions in Diarbekir, where there were more tribal divisions). These Turkey Kurds only realized their atrocities and mistakes after the 1915 Genocide. I for one, cannot depend on these kind of Kurds, they can easily change faction and face. So, making a commitment of trust with Kurds of Turkey is probably a strategic mistake. But on the other hand, blaming the Iraqi Kurds for the atrocities of the Genocide is a barbarous act. In fact, they were the ones that saved a lot of infants and raised them as Armenians (yes, I mean Armenian) in Zakho and other places in Iraq.
    So, before anyone talks about Kurds, open some literature and read about their tribal problems first, and how many types of Kurds there are even to this day. That is why, I am more interested in the problem of how you can unify Kurds. To me, this is next to impossible. I can however, depend on the unification of the Iraqi Kurds, because these Kurds being on their motherland have better roots and homogeneity to become a national unit. This later fact is what Turks are afraid of. Once Iraqi Kurds form an independent Kurdistan, they will have a base on which their identity is guaranteed for survival, and therefore, the assimilation of Turkey Kurds will become impossible. This in fact, is already happening as we speak of. Another long war between Turks and Kurds is in the making, and is perhaps waiting for a daring Kurdish leader. The problem is that, such a leader does not exist today, and when it does show up, it will perhaps be a disaster for the Turkey Kurds, as well as the innocent Iraqi Kurds.
    Therefore, if Iraqi Kurds survive their de facto independence, they will most probably destroy any Turkey-Kurds uprising for their own survival. Bottom line, we, Armenians should not depend on the Kurds, Russians, Americans nor Europeans. We should depend only on ourselves.

  20. ...... said:

    look my good friend im turkish and i have to say that we all look to you guys as a brother and we have to .. there is one big  politic game on turkey right now ,,and turks would always look a the kurds as brother sister ,armenians to but how ever you people still saying the same things about us ..turks are this and that you people cant even proof what we did in the past  ….there is nothing we all dont know ….but one day this game is gna be over i hope we all will end as a friendly people in this world

    • Calleigh Stuart said:

      the game is one that your own government plays with you to keep the military in power and deny rights to everyone, turks, kurds, armenians, syriacs, chaldeans… the region of anatolia was once a multi ethnic, multi religious,multicultural place, but the Turkish Republic was literally built on a foundation of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and rewriting of history… have you ever read the novel 1984? It describes modern Turkey very well.
       
      Right now the Kurds are experiencing what the Armenians went through. On December 24, 9 KurdishMayors, the head of the human rights association and several other elected officials,human rights workers and city workers were arrested and imprisoned. Charged with terrorism, their real crime was in working for linguistic and cultural rights, recognition of the rights of all “minorities” in Turkey.  Turks are always talking about brotherhood. If you want there to be brotherhood, you have to understand what you have done to your “brothers” and make reparations in some way.
      I am posting links to three video interviews I made with Abdullah Demirbas, Kurdish Mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir. He has renamed streets in Diyarbakir after Armenian writers, wanted to restore the Armenian churches there, and wanted to create a “street of cultures” that would honor the different groups (Armenian,Yezidi, Chaldean, Syricac, Kurds, Jews etc.) that lived in Diyarbekir. He is now in prison for these activities.

      http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=237572987285 intro to interview/montage
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlks6OOiXxk part 1
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QZRwKN3J3E part 2
      http://www.gopetition.com/online/33128.html

  21. Haro Mherian, Ph.D. Mathematics, UCLA said:

    Thanks Calleigh Stuart, these videos give an idea what it means for us, Armenians, to ratify the recently publicized Protocols. It is surprising why there were no statements about ban of Armenian language and culture in the lines of the Protocols. Perhaps this is the first Protocol, and there will be more Protocols once Turkey opens borders with Armenia. What kurdish people are going through now is the same thing that Armenians went through almost a century ago followed by a systematic Genocide.
    Kurds must understand that Turkish culture does not posses firm foundations, simply said, their culture was outlined by Kemal Ataturk. This means that if multi-ethnicity is accepted and becomes official in Turkey, Turkey’s population will assimilate in only two decades into several non-Turkic cultures, while the remaining Turkic part will become a small ethnic minority. This is why they have strict rules to prohibit the functioning of other cultures.

  22. Frank said:

    I watched these 2 videos and it is madness over there for the Kurds.
    Turks have become irrational with this issue of Kurds.
    We  have to be in contact with the Kurds and have a constant dialoge and see if we are able to comminicate with each other and see if we can work together.
    This singer aram tigran
    is a very famous Kurdish singer and he is Armenian and he is dead now
    He said that Kurds were deceived into killing the Armenians during the Genocide.
    I believe in that because Kurds look like they like Armenians a lot
    I know that we are also in a jam but if there is  a way to help we should
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlks6OOiXxk part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QZRwKN3J3E part 2

  23. Calleigh Stuart said:

    I have more interviews and as I get them translated I will post links here. I spent last summer interviewing Kurdish writers, politicians, community leaders…  If the Armenians and Kurds worked together (believe me, this is Turkey’s greatest paranoia) as well as the Syriacs, Chaldeans, etc. things could change.
    Right now, the head of the Human Rights Center in Diyarbakir has been imprisoned as well as the 9 Kurdish Mayors… What Turkey has done is to imprison the main civil society leaders and intellectuals of the Kurds. Yes, it is a similar technique to what was done to the Armenians. The state makes a pretense of an “opening” and then crackdowns occur, meanwhile talk continues of openings, protocols and rights.
    Please read the petition for the Kurdish leaders, and sign it, if you feel sympathy. These are very good people, sitting in prison, its heartbreaking to me. (because I have interviewed and know so many of them).
    The situation of the Armenian language in Turkey is also very difficult of course. Children can’t go to Armenian schools unless they can prove EVERY YEAR that their father is Armenian. A child that has an Armenian mother, but who’s father is not Armenian, is NOT allowed to go to an Armenian school.
     
    petition:  http://www.gopetition.com/online/33128.html
     

    • Dino Ajemian said:

      I agree and understand with everything that you have said except for the issue of “A child that has an Armenian mother, but who’s father is not Armenian, is NOT allowed to go to an Armenian school.” This is understandable in terms of islam and Armenian culture. It is actually detrimental to Armenian culture and survival to be inclusive to those who run counter to the Armenian ethos and ethnos. In Armenian culture,  Armenian ethnicity is based solely on the male side of the equation. Also  town or village origin is based solely on the father’s place of origin. I have no sympathy for an Armenian woman who marries a turk or kurd or any other nationality and wants her child go to an Armenian school. As a libertarian, it’s my belief you can marry whomever you choose, but don’t think you are still Armenian and have a place at the table. You can’t have it both ways.  Armenian sociobiology is complex and I really dont have the time to explain.

      As a side note, which I find interesting, I know of 100% turkish muslim children attending  an Armenian- Christian oriented summer camp on the east coast. Weird but true.

      • Calleigh Stuart said:

        Its perfectly legitimate for Armenians to determine that identity is followed through the fathers line, but do you really want the Turkish government to be in control of this? Their strategy is to wipe all  Armenian origins out of everything and every place in Turkey, and nothing will make them happier than to say someone is not Armenian but Turk. Why not let the assimilation go the other way?
        And do you think that “Non Armenians” should not learn Armenian language and culture?
        Look, I understand that this is a very old tradition. The Alevi’s also, would not accept anyone who married outsiders– this is something that exists in many cultures. Parsi’s.. Jews… its not unique to the Armenians. But do you really want those who feel a connection to their Armenian roots, even if they are not “legally” considered to be Armenian, to be excluded from learning about the language and culture of their mother?
         

      • Calleigh Stuart said:

        Dino,
        Just one more thing… what you say about the Zaza’s being separate is not completely correct. There is a kind of “separatist movement” of Alevi Zaza’s who don’t want to be defined as Kurds because they were massacred by Sunni Kurds. However, this exists much more in the diaspora. In Turkey, in villages where Zaza Alevi’s lived, I never came across it. Although weirdly, Alevi’s — both Zaza and Kurmanci, sometimes have a real “love” of Ataturk, forgetting that he was behind the massacre of the Dersim Kurds. This is a kind of Stockholm syndrome that is just beginning to come out in Turkey and be openly discussed. Zaza and Kurmanci, although different dialects, are not so radically different that the people can’t communicate with each other. It may be true that Zaza’s have a different ethnic stock, many of them have blue eyes! The Zaza’s of Dersim, and the Sunni Zaza’s have a slightly different dialcet from each other. The “separatist” movement is quite complicated from the inside and the outside. In the areas where I spent a lot of time (several summers) the people had migrated from the Dersim area– about 150 kilometers away… BEFORE the Dersim genocide, but around the time when Armenians were being massacred– in the 1890’s– in the area between Kigi and Bingol, there are families who speak Zaza, and families who speak Kurmanci living in the same villages and intermarrying. I went to an Alevi Cem ceremony and the Dede (spiritual leader) performed the service in Zaza, Kurmanci and a bit of Turkish as well.

        • Dino Ajemian said:

          Calleigh, 
                  I am not writing a book here on Asbarez. 😉 If I leave facts out dont assume the facts are not known by me.
          As for the word “separate”, (which I did not use) it can be interpreted in many ways, but I assume based on your exposition you mean a comingling of villagers and culture etc.. That happens all over the world. The issue is in terms of an ethnic group, which the Alevi Zazas are separate from the Kurds. The research on the anthropology has been done. Just because some Kurds or even Zazas may claim in front of you that there is no distinction or whatever, you have been fooled. They have their reasons for doing so. Ever thought the ones in the diaspora may be freer to speak their minds? Dimli/Zazas are not Kurds. Period. (If you could tell or convince Frank that Armenians are not Kurds that would be great.) 

          The Christopher de Bellaige  book Rebel Lands I would not recommend for a myriad of reasons.
          As for migration from the so called Dersim region this did not happen in 1890’s but during the 1908 Dimli/Zaza genocide in that region of Greater Armenia. You do know of the 1908 genocide in Dersim, right?

  24. Frank said:

    Hi Calleigh Stuart !
    How are you.
    I hope that our people and your people will come to some kind of a cooperation.

    • Calleigh Stuart said:

      Hi Frank,
      By “Our People and your people” you must mean the Armenians and the Scotch Irish Americans… I think except for a few American congressmen, we basically have a pretty good history of cooperation.

      • Calleigh Stuart said:

        Also, I would like to say,, I learned more and became more passionate about the Armenian issue through what the Kurds in Turkey (and in the diaspora in the USA) told me. I grew up in California and went to a University with an Armenian president (Un. of La Verne). I was surrounded by Armenians but still didn’t know very much. After going to Turkey and traveling in the eastern regions of the country I was told so many stories about the Armenians, people, Kurdish people related to me what their grandparents had told them. I met Armenians as well there who said they are Armenian but grew up with Kurdish culture. I would suggest if you can, that you go there. It is very painful of course.. look I am not even Armenian but to walk into a church that has clearly been burned, where people have been killed, to stand in that place which the Turkish state tries to ignore, destroy or cover by building other things around it… to stand there and feel the peace, hear the birds, but to know what happened, its very difficult. But it was important to speak to the people who are now living around the area. Kurds told me to read Dadrian’s work… Kurds told me to read Taner Akcam, Kurds told me about Hrant Dink. If there is anyone who is not an enemy to the Armenians, those are the people. I have also met Turks who were very open, who know what happened… and some others who, although they know, are so terrorized by their government they are afraid to say it out loud even in the privacy of their own homes. In a discussion with a Turkish man, I was talking about the genocide and he didn’t contradict me, but he literally couldn’t speak, what I saw in his face was just fear. When I said, “why can’t you just say it? Why can’t you say what happened?” He said, “in your country you have freedom of speech.” Later I learned he’d been tortured during the 70’s, the left/ right violence.  Turkey is a very complicated place, and I wish more Armenians could know and understand it as it is today.  There are things there — really an outrage. I was in Elazig– the newer city built next to Harput. There was an old Armenian Church, it had no roof, it had been gutted. It was full of workers. I went inside and photographed and filmed it. It had obviously been burned, was obviously the site of a massacre. Workers were digging out the foundations. I asked and was told they would turn it into a hotel. I was horrified and so angry but tried to keep cool and just have a conversation. What was the name of this church? “There is no name” the workers told me.
        Turks are able to get away with things like this because there are no witnesses. I’m sure you know that Turkey has destroyed many sites important to the Armenians. The castle on the Tigris,Hasankeyf for instance is important for several civilizations but is also a site where mass graves of Armenians are. The Turks are trying to build a huge dam to cover the entire place with water. If Armenians from America began traveling there and asserting their presence and their cultural rights, their claims if not materially than spiritually, it would frighten and pressure the Turkish government,believe me it would make a shift in their behavior. No, I doubt they would suddenly cede you Western Armenia, but  Armenians in the diaspora should reclaim their land in every way possible, even if they can’t physically occupy it.
         
        I highly reccomend a book by Christopher de Bellaige called REBEL LANDS. It’s about the Armenians and Kurds in the Varto province near Mush.

  25. Frank said:

    Hi Calleigh Stuart !
    Thanks for that intresting comment.
    With a name like yours I knew you werent Kurdish but I thought you were half Kurd or something like that.
    Turkey will not get away with this terible thing they did to us
    http://www.genocide-museum.am/eng/index.php
    Maybe you already know about this link.
    Our family is from Kayseri
    I say how could people have been so evil and continue to be this way.
    If there is a devil Turks are the worshippers of this beast.
    In my family our people were in line to get their heads chopped.

    Turkey will not exist as a country anymore.
    From all  signs it might be as close as this year

    Take care

  26. farvaharian said:

    After the battle of Manzikert in 1071, Seljuks encouraged Armenians to move west into Byzantine lands, i.e. western Anatolia and shores of Aegean, and simultaneously encouraged Kurds to migrated from the Mosul/Kirkuk regions to the Van/Ararat area and other parts of eastern Anatolia. So yes, the Kurds arrived in western Armenia even after the Seljuks. But the realities of today behoove us to stick together. Since 451, Armenians have had very little trouble with Iranic peoples (aside from the Hamidiye/Vanadzor skirmishes and conflicts in the 19th century). I have no problem with a Kurdish state that can only be a close Armenian ally in the region.

  27. zaza misto said:

    I am an Alevi Kurd, have an Armenian great-uncle.. while running away from their villag foesr safety his mother was worried that he was the only male left alive so begged my great grandad to hide him and look after him as his own, he found his family in Aleppo and moved there, I am told my greatgrandad was was so sad he left he became sick, Semsi’s son visited us till he passed away God bless all.. and yes it is true what zubeyir aydar said those tribes who have killed Armenians for their possessions on the order of the turks and their local imams are the same tribes who are against Kurdish freedom movement, those slave minded Kurds always had good relations with their masters! on another note I have read some archived reports from 1930’s and the report reads “those Kurds who occupied Armenian lands after the “Armenian uprising” (not sure if this existed but its the official turkish notes to justify the genocide I guess) can now be expelled from the lands as the Armenian threat is over, they should be replaced with Turks from balkans..

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