Dersim Armenians Visit Eastern Armenia in Search of Identity

Mayors from nine towns across Turkey's Dersim province visit the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial in Armenia. March 24, 2015. (Photo: Photolure)

YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Nine mayors from the former Armenian province of Daron (Dersim), today in Turkey, have arrived in Armenia at the initiative of the Modus Vivendi center and with the support of the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora. The Mayors have visited Dzidzernagapert to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide. They have also visited the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Khor Virap, the History Museum of Armenian, and Matenadaran.

The mayors met with reporters on Tuesday to share their impressions. They spoke about their search for identity and the difficulties of returning to their roots. They also presented the joint programs with Zazas and Alevis.

Head of Modus Vivendi Center Ara Papian said the initiative aims to provide Dersim Armenians with an opportunity to get to know Armenia ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Papian said they have worked with the Dersim Province for several years now. They often organize festivals featuring groups from Armenia.

Many residents of Dersim now openly accept their Armenian descent and some have chosen to be baptized into the Armenian Church. Others, however, continue to hide their true identity out of decades-long fear.

Considering all this, it’s hard to calculate today what percentage of Dersim residents are of Armenian descent. The number could be between 20 and 90 percent. One thing is clear: people in Dersim have started to return to their Armenian roots.

Chairman of the Dersim Union of Armenians and Alevis Sercan Saritas attaches importance to the organization of Armenian language courses. “We want to intensify the social communication. During a festival in July we’ll host guests from Arnenia,” he said.

Representative of the Armenian Union of Dersim Miran Pirgic said, “We have a pain and we should think what we can do jointly.” “Genocide is seated so deep in people that our brothers in Istanbul even find it hard to accept our Armenian descent, because the names of all our brothers in Dersim are changed, “Turkified” or “Kurdified.” However, the reality cannot be hidden any more. We have already disclosed the truth. We only need the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey and the Etchmiadzin Catholicosate to accept us,” he said.

The mayors said a number of joint events will now be organized. Joint organizations have been set up to implement joint programs. The guests also said they have compiled the list of Armenian churches in Dersim. They intend to maintain and renovate the 162 churches. They work in cooperation with the Istanbul-based Union of Armenian Architects.


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  1. State-Of-Emergency said:

    These Armenians must be incorporated into the larger Pan-Armenian family. Work must be done to have them repent Islam and either embrace Christianity or simply become atheists. Conflict will eventually arise and proselytizing will occur if left unchecked. Their backward Islam teachings will not allow for growth and integration in our centuries old culture and traditions.

  2. craig said:

    This is such an intense theme. These people are our brethren and deserve all the attention and resources we can give. They are true surivors.
    The fact that “They intend to maintain and renovate the 162 churches” in Dersim is yet another challenge and great undertaking. A BIG thank you to the Modus Vivendi Center and Ara Papian

  3. javidtheimpaled said:

    Daron is not Dersim! Daron is the Mush valley. Dersim is basically the Armenian province of Tsopk’ modern Tunceli. It is the south western quarter of the Armenian Plateau/Greater Armenia outside the Wilson Arbitral Award. If you don’t know your history and geography then you don’t know what you are fighting for or how to win that fight.

  4. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Don’t Cry Dersim…Any More

    The stagnated cry in their hearts
    Who can deny …?
    The tearless cry in their eyes
    Who can understand…?

    They lost beautiful
    Sacred days in their life
    Not haunting … the sound
    “Surp~Surp” in their ears…!

    Uniting once again with their genes
    Will clear… past sufferings
    Uniting to praise with their faith
    That was their hidden wish to achieve…

    Let us pray…
    Armenian prayers
    Forgetting what they were
    Taught before…

    Let them breathe
    A new life
    New happy days
    With their race…

    March 25, 2015

  5. Hagop hagopian said:

    For someone who can’t stand any turk on this planet. I must say this picture really is awesome. I have never seen a picture of anyone being Armenian or other who has knelt at dzidzernagapert. This picture is not only moving it’s priceless. Mr. President please send this photo to the turkish president. This is what we expect any turkish official. To kneel at our memorials. Just an awesome picture. I truely have respect to these individuals.

    • HERAYER said:

      very well said brother, only people with a sense of humanity and truth can do this, i doubt very much that this will happen.

  6. light said:

    these people needs the attention and aid of the Armenian and the world and they should be compensate
    for the trauma and stress they have been put through
    the humans right and amnesty the world should give a great help and aid
    jesus andGOD is with them

  7. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    ‘Dersim Genocide–Ethnocide’ of 1937-1938
    Committed by the hands of Turkified
    Armenian Orphan; her Identity was crossed on from
    Hatun Sebilciyan to Sabiha Gokcen

    The world should know
    Who are the Seljuk-Ottoman-savage-Turks.
    See her birthdate, she was born and died the same day and month!
    (on March 22, 1913, died in March 22, 2001, a real lie!
    Even a ten-year old student can detect.
    And how funny it is
    That orphans know their birthdays!

    Journalist Hrant Dink (1954- 2007)
    Was gunned because of pilot Hatun!
    He said, she was an Armenian Orphan,
    Ataturk snatched her from the orphanage
    And trained her to kill her own people
    Because they were not Sunnis,
    But innocent Alivis* ––
    (Turkified Armenians and Kurdish).

    Dr. Sylva Portoian
    From my 15th poetry collection…
    “BRING-OUT Our Genocided Skulls & Artful Hands” (2015)

    *Alivis: Alevi: Alevis (Aleviler, Elewî) are a religious, sub-ethnic and cultural community in Middle East and South Asia, numbering in the millions. Alevi worship takes place in assembly houses (cemevi), not in mosques. The ceremony (âyîn-i cem, or simply cem) features music and dance (semah), which symbolizes the main planets around the Sun (by man and woman turning in circles) and the putting off of one’s self and uniting with God. In Alevism, men and women are regarded as equals, and pray side by side. (Wikipedia, 2014)

    According to the folk etymology the word ‘Dersim’ was derived from the name of the Armenian priest Ter Simon (Tersimon, Dersimon) he was Alivized (became Alivi) in the early 17th century.
    Armenians add ‘Der’ or ‘Ter’ before their surnames if the person is a priest or arrives from family whose ancestors were priests.)

    • Hagopian hagopian said:

      In linguistics the letters R and L are inter changeable. Alevi’s are not the Alawites of Syria. They are Arevis Armenians who did not accept Christianity. They kept The true Armenian religion the religion of worshiping AR. Which is the sun. In reality they are called Arevi. The religion has nothing to do with Islam And that’s why erdogan is opening mosques In their villages and towns to finally convert them to Islam. I alevis never allowed a mosque to be built in their towns are villages

  8. AzadArtsakh said:

    We should accept these newly found brothers and sisters with open arms. Their ancestors had no viable choice but to accept Islam in order to stay alive, we should allow them to keep their religion, we cannot expect them to switch faith and traditions overnight. We have to ease them into the Armenian church and culture and let them eventually decide for themselves. I believe they will gradually unite with their lost faith and zip ahead 100 years forward in history. Also, if we make conversion to Christianity a precondition then we alienate those who are waiting on the wings to declare their Armenian ancestry, there are many reasons why denouncing Islam could be life threatening in a country like Turkey.

  9. HERAYER said:

    believe me these are our brothers and sisters, i have seen videos of them saying with pride that they are ARMENIAN, speaking ARMENIAN and calling us KARDASH,(BROTHERS) YEGPAYR AND QUIRIG. We are living in amazing times, the remnants of the genocide of our ancestors are yearning to return and be accepted and loved they want to belong.our. leaders should be wise and have a plan.