Armenians in Afghanistan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Armenians in Afghanistan
Armenian, Dari

There was once a small but important community of Armenians in Afghanistan, centred at Kabul; however, they were expelled in 1897.[1]

Unlike Turkey, Azerbaijan or Pakistan, Afghanistan has relations with Armenia.


In 1755, Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler reported that Sultan Ahmad Shah Bahadur took several Armenian gunners from Lahore to Kabul.[2]

The Perso-Indian diocese at Julfa sent Armenian priests to the community; however, no Armenian priest came after 1830.[3] Missionary Joseph Wolff came to Kabul and preached to them in Persian in 1832; by his account, the community numbered about 23 people.[3] British missionaries were interested in using the Armenian community as a base from which to conduct missionary work in Kabul; however, the community themselves reported that they had only converted one Afghan to Christianity, a robber who fell three times while attempting to break into their church to steal the valuable silver vessels stored therein, and then upon being discovered, begged for mercy and baptism.[4]

The Armenian church at Bala Hissar was destroyed during the Second Anglo-Afghan War by British troops; the community received compensation from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for their loss, but the church was never rebuilt. By this time, they had seen no Armenian priest for quite some time; however, the Anglican church at Peshawar sent a priest to them on one occasion in the late 19th century to baptise them.[5]

As late as 1870, British reports showed 18 Armenian Christians remaining in Kabul.[3] One Armenian man named Lucas A. Joseph, also known by the name Serwurdin Khan, managed the gunpowder factories at Jalalabad. In 1896, Abdur Rahman Khan, emir of Afghanistan, even sent a letter to the Armenian community at Calcutta, India (now Kolkata), asking that they send ten or twelve families to Kabul to "relieve the loneliness" of their coethnics, whose numbers had continued to dwindle.[6] However, despite an initial reply of interest, in the end, none of the Armenians of Calcutta accepted the offer.[7] The following year, the final remnants of the Armenians were expelled to Calcutta after a letter from Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to the Afghan ruler questioning the loyalty of the Armenians.[1]

Some Armenians came with the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; these veterans were reportedly interested in returning to Afghanistan again when Armenia announced in July 2009 that it would deploy medical specialists and interpreters in aid of the United Nations' International Security Assistance Force.[8]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Seth 1992, p. 218
  2. ^ Seth 1992, p. 207
  3. ^ a b c Seth 1992, p. 208
  4. ^ Seth 1992, p. 209
  5. ^ Hughes 1893, p. 456
  6. ^ Seth 1992, p. 210
  7. ^ Seth 1992, p. 217
  8. ^ "Armenia to send forces to Afghanistan this year", The Armenian Reporter, 2009-07-24, retrieved 2009-07-26