Kurds in Armenia

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Armenia's Kurdish population (dark green).

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 Western Armenia 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] In 1925 more than fifty schools were opened for the Kurds of Armenia.[9]

During the period of stalinism in 1937, the Kurds in Armenia became victims of forced migration, thousands of Kurds were forcibly removed from Armenia.[10][11]

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.[12]

In the period between 1992-94 the Kurdish population of Lachin and Kelbajar districts of Azerbaijan was forced to flee due to Armenian invasion during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. 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[edit]

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.[13] 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[edit]

  • Saladin was a Kurdish[14][15] 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 1967 novel Help, as well as short stories and works on Kurdish culturology.[16]
  • Amine Avdal (1906-1964) was a Kurdish writer. He studied at Yerevan State University. Since the 1930s Avdal published poems ("Spring", "Three brothers"), tales, ethnological researches both in Kurdish and Armenian languages.[17]
  • 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[edit]


  1. ^ The Peoples of the USSR: An Ethnographic Handbook - P. 117. by Ronald Wixman
  2. ^ Mannerheim: Marshal of Finland - P. 210. by Alexandre Bennigsen, Stig Jägerskiöld, S. Enders Wimbush
  3. ^ National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia - 2011 Armenian National Census
  4. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Armenia
  5. ^ U.S. Department of State Report
  6. ^ a b http://www.osce.org/documents/oy/2002/01/148_en.pdf
  7. ^ Гажар Аскеров КУРДСКАЯ ДИАСПОРА
  8. ^ Kurds at Great Soviet Encyclopedia
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of World Cultures - P 225. by David Levinson
  10. ^ "(McDowall - A Modern History of the Kurds, page 492)"
  11. ^ Kurdish Culture and Society: An Annotated Bibliography - P. 22. by Lokman I. Meho, Kelly L. Maglaughlin
  12. ^ Шакро Мгои: «После распада СССР многие курды так и не получили гражданства России»/ Noev Kovcheg, #13, 2006
  13. ^ (in Russian) An interview with Charkaz Rash // ДРУЖБА, №22, 2003
  14. ^ "Encyclopedia of World Biography on Saladin". Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  15. ^ The medieval historian Ibn Athir relates a passage from another commander: "...both you and Saladin are Kurds and you will not let power pass into the hands of the Turks." Minorsky (1957).
  16. ^ Hajie Jndi at Great Soviet Encyclopedia
  17. ^ Amine Avdal at Great Soviet Encyclopedia