Difference between revisions of "Armenian-Kurdish relations"

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‎___________, “Krtakan Ch’ardere,” Azdak, Beirut, 1928, # 122, p. 1.‎
‎___________, “Krtakan Ch’ardere,” Azdak, Beirut, 1928, # 122, p. 1.‎
Reference <BR>

Latest revision as of 05:32, 15 October 2018

Armenian Kurdish Relations in The Era of Kurdish National Movements ‎(1830-1930)‎

Garabet Moumdjian
UCLA, 1999


Forcibly settled in some select communities in Western Turkey and several ‎Middle Eastern countries, and partially concentrated in the eastern districts of Anatolia, ‎there lives an atypical ethnic group whom Turks label as "Mountain Turks". Yet this ‎unique ethnic group is totally unrelated to the Turks and possesses a distinct culture, ‎history, and social background. Historical data collected during the last 2 centuries ‎indicates that these people are the original inhabitants of southeastern Anatolia. History ‎names them the Kurds and their homeland, Kurdistan.‎ The modern day Turkish Republic was built on the remnants of the Ottoman ‎Empire. During their expansion, the Ottomans conquered and occupied the lands of ‎many peoples. They built a large, yet diverse empire, whose borders extended from ‎southeastern Europe (the Balkans) to the Caucasus including the Middle East, Arabia, ‎and North Africa. Asia Minor and Anatolia became the nexus of this vast state.‎ During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, unprecedented luxury, opulence, ‎and indolence corrupted the Ottoman imperial power. Weakness and incapacity in the ‎face of European powers became a permanent features of the power elite. By the ‎nineteenth century, the whole empire was reduced to "the sick man of Europe." ‎ During these two centuries of weakness, the Ottomans encountered an increasing ‎number of nationalistic and freedom movements. An already strong Europe interfered in ‎the internal politics of the empire. However, European powers were never able to reach a ‎compromising agreement or a final decision on how to divide the Ottoman Empire ‎between themselves. Thus, Ottoman territorial integrity became a permanent element of ‎the European peace process. The totality of the empire was restored for almost a century, ‎until the outbreak of World War I.‎ Most of the nationalistic movements that the Ottomans encountered during the ‎nineteenth century were staged in their European territories. These were backed by ‎different European powers, especially Russia, which for political reasons regarded the ‎Slavic freedom fighting peoples of the Balkans a continuation of its own people. ‎Moreover, Russia used the Slavic population of the Balkans to implement its strategic ‎plans of "descending to the hot waters" that is, the Mediterranean. Unable to suppress ‎all these freedom movements at the same time, the Ottomans retreated. Consequently, ‎most of the Balkans regained its freedom.‎ At about the same time (i.e. the middle of the 19th century), peoples in the eastern ‎parts of Anatolia, namely the Kurds and the Armenians, awoke from their centuries long ‎torpor and embarked in nationalistic movements seeking freedom and equality. Yet the ‎remoteness of those peoples and their lands from Europe brought them a fate that was ‎totally different from their European counterparts. Armenian and Kurdish national ‎liberation struggles were handled with an iron fist. All that Ottoman Sultans were ‎deprived of achieving in their European territories they forced in the eastern parts of their ‎empire. Later, under the cover of the first global war, The Ittihadist Turkish government ‎exceeded even its predecessors when it staged and executed THE FIRST GENOCIDE ‎OF MODERN HISTORY [G.M.] by massacring the Armenian population of Ottoman, ‎i.e. Western Armenia.‎ After the war, in 1918, Armenians garnered their feeble forces in a tiny republic ‎in the Caucasus. This fledgling state was unable to endure for long. After only two and ‎one half years of independence, it was crushed under a "Blitzkrieg" between Kemalist ‎Turkey and Communist Russia. It was eventually absorbed by the latter. Today, about ‎one half of all Armenians live in this republic that was an integrated part of what came to ‎be known as the Soviet Union. It regained its independence in 1990 after the demise of ‎communism. The other half of Armenians is scattered around the world. It constitutes the ‎communities that comprise the Armenian Diaspora.‎ As for the Kurds, they also were the victims of assimilating Turkish policies. ‎Unlike Armenians, Kurds never achieved sovereignty. Today, their homeland is divided ‎between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. All four governments suppress any nationalistic ‎insurgence within their Kurdish population.‎ Numerically, the Kurds comprise the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle ‎East. However, they are forced to accept the identity of the country in which they live. In ‎Turkey and elsewhere, a planned policy of forced assimilation and military action is ‎wiping out all forms of ethnicity and Kurdish national belongingness.‎ The events of the last two decades in Turkish Kurdistan are valid indications of ‎this.‎ This narrative strives to shed some light on the history of the Kurds. It deals with ‎almost a century of events (1830-1930) which covers the most active chapter in the ‎history of the Kurdish freedom movements. As an important supplement, Armenian-‎Kurdish relations are also studied. Noteworthy is the fact that Kurds and Armenians were ‎close neighbors for centuries. Thus, their histories are closely interrelated. Even a cursory ‎analysis of the relations between these two people show that a close, mutual, and ‎trustworthy collaboration was never realized during their struggle for freedom. This, of ‎course, eventually harmed both peoples. Nevertheless, the turbulent situation that the ‎Middle East encounters in modern times, and the numerous wars and conflicts that are ‎staged on its soil are motivating reasons to have a better understanding of the region and ‎its peoples. The Kurds are one such example. They are scattered in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, ‎and Syria with ghetto type enclaves in the other Middle Eastern countries.‎ Iraqi Kurds seem to be the most active. During the past three or four decades, they ‎staged more than one rebellion under the leadership of the Barzani (Barzanji) family. ‎The Iraqi government, with the aid and the military help of the Turkish Republic, crushed ‎those Kurdish insurrections. Some of the Kurdish rebel leaders were murdered. Others ‎were thrown into prison after being charged as traitors to their "host" countries.‎ In 1945 Kurds in Iran staged an insurrection and for a period of a year established ‎what is historically referred to as "The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad," which was ‎crushed by the armies of the Pahlavi Shah. More recently, Kurds in Iran grasped the ‎opportunity offered by the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomainy to ‎extract an autonomous existence for themselves. Although they failed, the Kurds remain ‎a nagging and thorny issue for Iran.‎ Today, in all the countries in which they live, Kurds are considered to be in a very ‎low socioeconomic level. This is observed especially in the Turkish parts of Kurdistan, ‎where severe limitations on education, dissemination of ethnic culture, and economic ‎opportunities are imposed, the Kurdish language (or languages) and literature are banned, ‎hundreds of villages have been destroyed.‎ The "Mountain Turks" are yet another case of lost national identities that swim ‎in the murky waters of the Middle Eastern swamp.‎


‎"No people are so closely related to Armenians by history and creed as the Kurds. ‎Since legendary times, when people used cuneiform to express their magnificence and ‎melancholy, those two neighbors have lived together. Many nations and peoples, ancient ‎Rome, Macedonia, the Parthians, the Arabs from the south, Russians from the north, ‎Gengis Khan and Tamerlane from the far east and Central Asia have conquered the ‎lands of Kurds and Armenians, but they have all gone away. Like winter snow, they ‎have sat on peoples breasts, oppressed and tortured them, but they have eventually melted ‎away, once again giving rise to Kurdish and Armenian existence. As different in their ‎beliefs and character - one mobile and pastoral, the other settled and agricultural - these ‎two people have often become enemies of each other. Instead of protecting each other ‎and living in harmony, they have fought against each other. Sometimes one had ruled ‎over the other."‎

Ruben Ter Minasian, from whom the paragraph above is quoted, was a patriot ‎who lived for years in the Western Armenian regions of Van and Sasun. Ter Minasian ‎was destined to become a prominent figure in the Armenian National Movement. As a ‎leader of the Armenian gorilla fighting units in Sasun, the fedayeen, he established ‎relations with the Kurds, and negotiated with their numerous tribal chieftains. Ter ‎Minasian's words are a clear illustration of the actual history and affiliation of the two ‎contiguous peoples. If chance had played a different game by making their relationship a ‎more positive one, then many things might have been different today for these two ‎peoples.‎ It is indeed very difficult to trace the origins of the Kurdish people or to give an ‎exact date of their "entrance" into southeastern Anatolia. A.V. Dolmaik, extracting his ‎information from one of the few Kurdish historians, Sharaf Ul Din, in his book titled ‎‎“Sasun,” states that:‎

‎'Their [the Kurd's, G.M.] origin is very dark. It is possible that these Kurds had ‎entered the region since ancient times. It is also possible that they are the descendants of ‎a race of people which lived in the southern mountains of Lake Van, which Armenians ‎called Mardastan [Land of the Mards, G.M.].(1)‎

Whatever ambiguities shroud the origins of the Kurds, the important thing to note ‎is that they lived in this region immediately neighboring Historical Armenia. It follows, ‎that they lived in the southeastern districts of Anatolia; induced several conquerors; ‎sometimes even overlapped lands inhabited by Armenians. At the end of the fifteenth ‎century -- i.e. seventy five years before the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Selim I-- ‎Armenian and Kurds were still living close to each other. In the mountainous regions, ‎they were governed by their princes who defended their lands against all outside enemies. ‎At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Ottomans, after conquering most of ‎southern Europe (Greece and the Balkans), ventured east towards Asia Minor and Eastern ‎Anatolia in an attempt to unite the scattered Turkish and Turkoman tribes and ‎principalities under the banners of their fledgling state.‎ One of the most important historical developments of those times was the ‎federation of 1459 that was signed by the Muslim and Christian rulers of the Caucasus ‎and Eastern Anatolia. It was formed with the purpose of blocking Ottoman expansion, ‎Key figures such as 1) Uzun Hassan, leader of the Ak-Koyulu Turkoman tribes of ‎Diarbekir, 2) David, the emperor of Trapizond, the last remnant of the Byzantines, ‎ ‎3) Kevork Pakratian, Prince of Georgia, and 4) Armenian princes of Sasun participated ‎in this federation.‎ Conscious of the danger of lightning Ottoman expansion, the federation sent ‎envoys to Europe and tried to harness Western attention. However, Europe was not ‎supportive, and this was to be expected, since after the last and disastrous Crusade to ‎liberate Constantinople, it had encountered numerous internal conflicts, which were the ‎result of the fermenting process of its new nation-states. in fact, internal European clashes ‎were the reason behind the momentum of Ottoman armies and their success on the ‎European battlefronts.‎ The federation had to face the oncoming Ottoman armies. Soon, Sultan Mehmed ‎II started his offensive towards Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus. Ottoman forces gave ‎decisive blows to the federation's armies. Eastern Anatolia was now open for them.‎ Meanwhile, another force was fermenting in the East. This was the Shiite state of ‎Shah Ismail in Persia (Iran). This Safavid state was in turn interested in Eastern ‎Anatolia and the Caucasian provinces. It also tried to bring them under its rule. ‎ The Ottomans expanded rapidly. Muslim and Christian principalities of the ‎‎"federation" fell under Ottoman rule. Safavid Iran also sent its armies there. This was a ‎dangerous game, especially because the two rivals fanned the centuries old Sunni vs. ‎Shiite enmity of Islam.‎ War was inevitable. Sultan Selim's armies crushed the forces of Shah Ismail. In ‎‎1514 the Sultan placed Armenian and Kurdistan under Ottoman rule.‎ By the religious principles of Islam, Christians were rendered second degree ‎citizens entitled to pay costly taxes to their Muslim rulers. Selim burdened Armenians ‎with heavy taxes, yet was more lenient and friendly towards Kurds. He even signed a ‎treaty of friendship with their princes, according to which.-‎

a- All participating princes were to reclaim their sovereignty over their realms.‎ b- The rule in these Kurdish principalities will continue based on the primo- ‎ ‎ geniture system of the past, on condition that the appointment of new princes ‎ ‎ be confirmed by a firman (order) from the Ottoman Sultan.‎ c- During wars, Kurdish princes and their tribes must help the Sultan with sipahi ‎ ‎ (feudal) forces and supplies.‎ d- The Ottoman Sultan promises to protect these principalities against outside ‎ ‎ aggression.‎ e- The Kurdish feudal lords are obliged to pay tribute to the Sultan in the form of ‎ ‎ yearly presents. (2)‎

With this treaty most of Armenia came under direct Ottoman rule. However, there ‎remained some regions, like Hazzo in Kharazan, and Sasun, which kept their ancient ‎sovereign status and did not even pay the yearly tribute demanded by the Ottoman ‎ rulers. (3)‎ The freedom of those remote pockets was not something Ottomans willingly ‎tolerated. Military campaigns and expeditions were sent with the objective of oppressing ‎these Kurdish and Armenian mountain dwellings. Unable to accomplish their primary ‎objective, the Ottoman regiments diverted their attention to the Kizilbash Kurdish tribes ‎of Sebastia (Sivaz) and Kharpert (Kharput). Ottomans regarded Kizilbash Kurds as ‎heretics --Devil worshippers was and still is a misleading denunciation that Kizilbash ‎Kurds encounter.-- who, "according to Ottoman policy, coveted the spread of Shiism ‎within the Ottoman Empire." Armed with this religious intolerance, the Ottoman armies ‎massacred thousands of Kizilbash Kurds during these campaigns.‎ In Western Armenia, except for the mountainous areas like Sasun, Armenians ‎came under direct Ottomans rule. Since Ottomans were lenient towards the Kurds, the ‎previously existing balance of power changed. As a result, all former Armenian-Kurdish ‎links were severed. Kurdistan was internally divided between several princes who all ‎wanted to be the first in the eyes of the sultans. Eventually, they all became tools in the ‎hands of the Ottoman rulers, who often used on Kurdish prince or tribe against another, ‎thus keeping them in perfect chaos. Ottomans played this "divide and rule" game for a ‎very specific reason. Until 1683 they were busy with their campaigns in southeastern ‎Europe. This consumed a great percentage of their military and economic resources. ‎Therefore, they had to create a policy of divide and rule in Kurdistan in order to secure ‎their posterior. It was not easy to reach the gates of Vienna and return empty-handed. ‎When those soldiers fighting in the European front returned to Istanbul, they were ‎immediately sent eastward to rob the people. This policy was quite successful. It ‎submerged Armenians and Kurds in the quagmire of fighting marauding Ottoman ‎Yenicheris. From the Ottoman point of view, this kept their [Armenians’, Kurds’] ‎subjugation permanently confirmed.‎ Against this background of continuous campaigns and pillage Kurds and ‎Armenians continued to live until the end of the eighteenth century. Things started to ‎change only at the beginning of the new century. The year 1806 is a turning point in the ‎history of the Kurdish people. From this date on, several freedom movements and ‎rebellions echoed in different parts of Kurdistan. Some of those movements remained ‎within the confines of the Kurdish noble houses. They did not possess the popular tribal ‎basis so vital for such ventures. The insurrections were put down by canny Ottoman ‎policies which aimed first at belittling the princes in the eyes of the Kurdish tribes and ‎then at suppressing the headless tribes and strangling their desires for freedom.‎ One must admit however, that some of these movements were able to consolidate ‎several Kurdish tribes and motivate them towards the cause of freedom. This was a ‎hardship for the Ottomans, because those movements had the covert blessing of Tsarist ‎Russia and/or Shiite Iran. This obliged Ottomans to take strict measured to crush rebel ‎Kurds and quell their movements in their initial stages.‎ Armenian participation was minimal in those Kurdish Movements. Cooperation ‎occurred only in such principalities where some Armenian villages were under the rule of ‎a Kurdish prince. As his menials, Armenians were obliged to aid the Amir (prince) in his ‎quest for freedom. Sasuni states that:-‎

‎"This historical era demanded heroism, united forces, and united endeavors for ‎the sake of freedom. The two neighbors had to realize the importance of depending on ‎each other during their common struggle. If one of them broke this rule, the other was to ‎carry the consequences. The wheels of history were to turn in such a way as to crush the ‎first and then the other. Past history is rich with such instances. This also indicates that if ‎Armenian-Kurdish unity was accomplished, the two neighbors would have had ‎established their freedom long ago." (4)‎

A comprehensive Armenian-Kurdish unification never materialized in those ‎important days. Later, when some measure of mutual understanding and cooperation did ‎transpire, it was already too late to be of any significance.‎ Events that followed 1830 proved that Armenian-Kurdish unity was an ‎impossibility.‎


‎"If a throne was established, than we would have a future. We were not to be torn ‎to pieces, and without any doubt were to flourish. These Turks were not to be victorious ‎over us. Our homeland was not to be ruined by those owls."‎

Ahmed Hani ‎17th Century Kurdish Poet‎

The first Kurdish rebellion of the nineteenth century broke out in 1806 in the ‎Baban district of Ottoman Kurdistan, under the leadership of Abdul Rahman Pasha. ‎Today, the Baban district is located within Iraqi territory. However, during the nineteenth ‎century it enjoyed a rich and flourishing Kurdish cultural and economic life. Its leader, ‎Abdul Rahman, was able to expand his territory by bringing under his rule minor ‎principalities that were paying tribute to Ottoman and Persian rulers.‎ Abdul Rahman’s movements were viewed negatively by the Ottomans. The ‎sultan appointed one of his followers, Khalid Pasha, as the new Amir (prince) of the ‎Baban district. This was done to ridicule Abdul Rahman's influence and to belittle him in ‎the eyes of the Kurdish tribes he ruled. Yet Abdul Rahman proved to be an experienced ‎leader and a seasoned politician. He understood Ottoman intentions quite clearly. He ‎advanced with his army against Khalid Pasha, defeated him in a momentous battle in the ‎Sanjak (county) of Khoy, and reinstated himself as the Amir of Baban.‎ After Khalid's defeat Kurdish princes and tribal chieftains joined Abdul Rahman. ‎The Kurdish prince soon declared himself sovereign. However, Abdul Rahman was ‎unable to endure. He was defeated by new Ottoman armies sent to Baban. In 1808 he was ‎forced to flee from his principality and take refuge with the Kurdish tribes of Persia.‎ The Ottomans brought massive forces to the eastern vilayets (states) stationing ‎most of them in Kurdistan, This was done to secure the border from Abdul Rahman. ‎Rumors were circling that the rebel Kurdish Amir was gathering new forces in his exile. ‎The Ottomans had yet another reason for stationing armies on their Eastern borders. ‎Times were sensitive. The fear of a Russian offensive was ever-present. Nevertheless, the ‎Ottoman armies stationed in Eastern Anatolia and Kurdistan did much harm to the ‎villages and their peasants. They were viewed suspiciously by the inhabitants, who, being ‎tired of their cruelty and oppression, staged a number of minor rebellions in the different ‎parts of Kurdistan. According to Kendal "many Armenians participated in these ‎uprisings, because they were attempts by the population mainly to defend itself." (5)‎

A. Amir Mohammed and the Unification of Kurdistan

The mountainous region of Southern Kurdistan continued to be the nexus of ‎Kurdish rebellious movements. After the defeat of Abdul Rahman, Amir Mohammed of ‎the Soran territory -- whose principality extended from the Great Zap River to the ‎Iranian border -- benefited from the difficulties that the Ottomans encountered in Greece ‎and Egypt in the 1830's. He too tried his luck in creating a free and sovereign Kurdistan.‎ Times seemed to be right for such a venture. The Ottomans were badly defeated ‎by the advancing Russian armies from the north. In the south, the viceroy of Egypt, ‎Mohammed Ali, grew in power and tried to expand his realm on behalf of his suzerain, ‎the Ottoman sultan. Moreover, the Greeks were in a stage of rebellion which resulted in ‎the severance of Greece from the Ottoman Empire and the creation of an independent ‎Hellenic State. Encouraged by the example of Mohammed Ali, Mohammed, the Amir of ‎Soran, began preparations and established several military factories and arsenals in his ‎capital city, Rewanduz. Those military plants soon supplied his army with vast amounts ‎of ammunition, rifles, and primitive types of cannons. (6) By 1833 Amir Mohammed ‎brought all of southern Kurdistan under his rule. The Kurdish chieftain's army was ‎comprised of ten thousand cavalry and twice as many infantry. With the new territorial ‎gains, his borders stretched to those of the Bohtan Emirate whose prince, Bedir Khan, ‎himself entertained ambitious dreams of unifying Kurdistan.‎ Amir Mohammed realized the benefits of joining forces with Bedir Khan. For this ‎reason, he approached the prince of Bohtan with a request to form a Kurdish federation ‎against the Sublime Porte. Bedir Khan totally rejected Amir Mohammed's offer, since it ‎meant that he and his forces would come under the command of the mighty prince of ‎Soran. Bedir Khan's refusal was in fact a decisive blow to the cause of Kurdish ‎unification envisioned by the Amir of Rewanduz. (7)‎ Once the Ottomans had settled their problems, Amir Mohammed became the ‎primary target of the Ottoman Sultan, who sent Rashid Pasha with an army against him. ‎Rashid also received reinforcement from the Ottoman valis (governor) of Musul and ‎Baghdad. He declared war against the Amir of Soran, and he fought him during the ‎summer months of 1834 . Von Moltke, who at the time was a german lieutenant serving ‎in the Ottoman army, writes in his memories that the battles were furious. Kurds fought ‎heroically to defend their motherland. The Ottomans had many casualties. They often ‎fought thirty to forty days to occupy just one Kurdish stronghold. (8)‎ However, Kurdish resistance was destined to fail. Partisan Kurdish irregular ‎soldiers were unable to resist the advances of regular Ottoman regiments that were ‎rejuvenated with fresh recruits. Amir Mohammed relived the fate of his predecessor, ‎Abdul Rahman. He took refuge amongst the Kurdish tribes of Iran, from where he ‎returned in 1836 to continue his struggle. This time, the Ottoman Sultan used his ‎religious authority as the Khalifa [literally the successor to the prophet, religious leader, ‎G.M.] and encouraged Kurdish religious shieks to rebel against their Lord. Prince ‎Mohammed was outcast by his own people. He was handed over to the Ottomans, who ‎took him and his family to Istanbul. The Sultan's plan worked quite well. Depriving the ‎Soran district from its ruler and protector, he ruled there with an iron fist.‎ After living in Istanbul for some years, prince Mohammed was granted ‎permission to return to his country. However, he was mysteriously murdered on his way ‎home (most probably by the assassins of the Ottoman Sultan).‎ Amir Mohammed's movement was different from all previous Kurdish attempts at ‎freedom. It was for once a huge endeavor with a broad popular basis (at least in its initial ‎stages). It is normal to conclude that this movement was the forerunner of Kurdish ‎national movements. However, one problem which severely damaged the Amir's cause ‎was the social culture of the Kurdish people itself. Based on tribal and clan organization, ‎unity and national belongingness were still strange, not to say altogether ‎incomprehensible, to the Kurdish character. Amir Mohammed placed his bet on this ‎sensitive issue. He lost because he did not realize that more time was needed in order to ‎unify a tribal-pastoral society. Kurdistan was not yet ready to accept freedom and ‎national sovereignty under the leadership of a single ruler.‎ The Soran district was a remote area in southern Kurdistan. Amir Mohammed ‎was not able to establish ties with the Armenian vilayets. The only Christians which ‎might have helped the Amir were Armenian and Nestorian villagers who had migrated ‎long ago to these remote areas of Kurdistan. However, as will be related, Christian and ‎Armenian aid was more readily available during the next Kurdish rebellion. The ‎originator of the new movement was non other than Bedir Khan. The nexus of his revolt ‎was his capital city, Jezireh.‎

B. Bedir Khan's Rebellion

Bedir Khan, the Amir of Bohtan, was born in 1802. he was the son of the most ‎prominent feudal lord of Bohtan, whose family enjoyed the leadership of the principality ‎since the fourteenth century. Bedir Khan was destined to play an important role in the ‎history of the Kurdish liberation movement.‎ Most of southern Kurdistan had by now suffered dearly at the hands of the ‎Ottoman armies. Kurds had no doubts about the intentions of the Sultan. An apparent ‎hatred toward the Ottoman regime was gaining momentum. On the other hand, Ottomans ‎encountered a great defeat in Syria where their armies were defeated against the forces of ‎Egypt's viceroy, Mohammed Ali, at Nazib, in June 1839. (9) Bedir Khan acted quickly, ‎and by 1840 he brought almost all of Ottoman Kurdistan under his rule. The prince of ‎Bohtan also signed a treaty of friendship with the Kurdish leaders of Iran and the district ‎of Kars.‎ According to Safrastian, Bedir Khan was a just ruler. Within his territories ‎justice prevailed to all Kurds, Armenians, Nestorians, or Khaldians. Christians enjoyed ‎unlimited religious freedom under his jurisdiction. They were encouraged to build their ‎churches and worship in them. Bedir Khan protected his Christian subjects and allowed ‎no harm to be done to them. (10) This tolerance toward Christians was something ‎different than Ottoman or Persian policies towards "infidel" Christians, which were based ‎on religious discrimination.‎ This humanistic character of Bedir Khan acknowledged him as a respectable ‎leader. As a consequence, his popularity grew tremendously in the different parts of ‎Kurdistan. The Amir was now able to rely on his popular base to accomplish his goal of ‎liberating and unifying Kurdistan. Yet like other Kurdish leaders before him, Bedir Khan ‎was confronted with the centuries old problem of Kurdish tribal disunity and rivalry ‎which proved to be a major obstacle.‎ Kendal mentions yet another problem that is of prime importance, but whose ‎accuracy is yet to be determined. He exerts the idea that missionary movements, British ‎and American, operating in southern Kurdistan preached Christians into obedience to the ‎Ottomans, and total neglect to the cause of their actual leader, Bedir Khan. Kendal ‎continues by saying that the missionaries were quite successful in their attempts. They ‎encouraged people, and Armenians in particular, not to participate in battles against the ‎Ottomans or to pay taxes and dues for the military aims of Bedir Khan.‎ Kendal's arguments in this regard are interesting. The fact that missionary ‎movements are by nature against violence, and, by this token, unencouraging towards ‎war is well known. On the other hand, however, other authors insist that those missionary ‎movements "did enlighten" Christians in those remote areas, and thus "generated the ‎development of national consciousness amongst them." (11)‎ Nevertheless, it turned out that Bedir khan possessed a political acumen and ‎became experiences and seasoned leader who enjoyed the devotion and admiration of all ‎his followers. Moreover his movement transcended the limited, sectoral understandings ‎of Kurdish tribal thinking. Quoting from Hagop Shahpazian's book titled “Armenian-‎Kurdish History,” Sasuni states that:‎

‎"Bedir Khan's plan of action contained within it the eastern vilayets of Van, ‎Mush, Bitlis and Diarbekir, reaching the Sea of Urmia (rather Lake Urmia). Moreover, ‎Bedir Khan's plan demanded that those territories be defended against all outside ‎enemies. For this reason, the Amir assumed direct negotiations with the Shah of Iran and ‎asked for his help against the Ottomans. As for the Armenians, they had to provide help ‎from Russia and Georgia. This could be a contrived as a ripe plan according to the ‎developments of those days, since in it the seeds of an Armenian-Kurdish federation ‎against Ottoman rule are detectable". (12)‎

In fact, Armenians living within Bedir Khan's rule did provide help for the ‎Kurdish prince in his struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Some Armenians even fought ‎in his army, Yet history was to provide a decisive blow to Bedir Khan's cause.‎ Concerned with the fate of the Ottomans Empire, the "Concert of Europe" acted ‎quickly and settled the question of Egypt's Viceroy, Mohammed Ali, by bestowing him ‎with hereditary rule over Egypt, in 1840. This presented the Sultan with a real ‎opportunity. Rescued from his primary rival, he momentarily sent an army under the ‎command of Osman Pasha against Bedir Khan. Osman's objective was to restore ‎Ottoman rule in Eastern Anatolia and Kurdistan.‎ The war continued for three full years, 1844-1847. However, by the end of 1847, ‎Bedir Khan had exhausted almost all his forces and supplies. Moreover, a dissension ‎occurred within his camp. Osman Pasha bribed Bedir Khan's nephew, Yezdansher, who ‎was the commander of the eastern wing of Bedir Khan's army. With Yezdansher's ‎defection the remaining Kurdish forces fell apart and the doors of the Kurdish capital, ‎Jezireh, were wide open to Osman Pasha. Bedir Khan's final battle took place in the ‎Eruhi castle. He was defeated, captured and exiled first to Varna in Ottoman Bulgaria, ‎then to Crete, and finally to Damascus where he died in 1868.‎ After about forty years of warfare, the Ottoman government thought that it had ‎finally brought rebellious Kurdistan to its knees. It was mistaken, because after only few ‎years the movement reemerged, this time under the leadership of Yezdansher, who ‎benefited from the Crimean War of 1853 and took upon himself the call of arms.‎

C. Yezdansher's Movement

The Russian-Turkish conflict of 1853 was reason enough for Turkish armies to ‎leave their bases in Kurdistan and to hurry to the battlefield in an effort to stop the ‎Russian offensive from the north.‎ With the newly created vacuum, Yezdansher took the cause of his uncle upon ‎himself. He endeavored to recreate the Kurdish spirit of freedom, which had died for ‎almost a decade due to the massive presence of Turkish armies in the Bohtan Principality.‎ Early in 1855, with a small army comprised of two thousand cavalrymen, ‎Yezdansher took Bitlis and drove away its Ottoman governor. This act brought the new ‎Kurdish chieftain an immense popularity within the Kurdish tribes of southeastern ‎Anatolia. Soon hundreds and thousands of Kurdish warriors came from all over the ‎terrain to join his army and fight for his cause. Still in 1855, Yezdansher crushed the ‎joined forces of the valis of Musul and Baghdad near the city of Siirt and obliged ‎Kenkam Pasha, the commander of the Turkish army, to flee away.‎ In four months, Yezdansher brought the whole territory from Van to Baghdad ‎under his rule (including Diarbekir). (13) By this time, Yezdansher's army swelled to ‎over one hundred thousand soldiers.‎ Parallel to Yezdansher's advance, the Russian offensive had a partial success. ‎Yezdansher tried in vain to establish communications with the advancing Russian armies. ‎His numerous letters to the Russian command in this regard remained unanswered, since ‎most of the advancing Russian armies operated far to the northeast and away from ‎Yezdansher's field of action.‎ On the other hand, the European powers were once again in panic, since the unity ‎and territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire were in danger by the Russian armies in ‎the north and Yezdansher's rebellion in the south. France and Great Britain joined the ‎Ottoman Empire against Russia. (14) They viewed Yezdansher's movement in the ‎utmost negative sense. After all, a free and sovereign Kurdistan under Yezdansher's rule ‎would become a Russian puppet and thus endanger European interests in the Ottoman ‎Empire.‎ Something was to be done. The British did find a way with which to silence the ‎Kurdish chieftain:-‎

‎"The British emissary, Nimrud Rassam, set of from Musul in 1855 with plenty ‎of cash in his coffers and demanded to be received as a mediator at the headquarters of ‎the Kurdish movement. After visiting the tribal chieftains one by one, and offering bribes ‎of guns, gifts and money, he set about persuading Yezdansher to settle the question of ‎Kurdish independence from the Ottoman Empire by negotiating [with it] with the British ‎acting as mediators." (15)‎

Yezdansher was mistaken in accepting the British terms. He trusted English ‎diplomacy and accompanied Rassam to Istanbul where he was immediately imprisoned. ‎His army was left without a leader. Soon it was defeated by Ottoman forces.‎ With Yezdansher, the rebellious movements originated by the Kurdish feudal ‎families during the first half of the nineteenth century came to an end. These uprisings ‎represented a real threat to the Ottomans, since they had to supply costly armies to ‎control the situation.‎ Yezdansher was the last Kurdish Amir to lead a rebellion. With him the rule of ‎the Kurdish princes perished. Soon religious leaders known as sheiks assumed the role of ‎the feudal lords. With their fanatic religious zeal, the sheiks changed the policies of the ‎secular princes. They started to discriminate against the Christian minorities who lived ‎within their territories, and thus defeated all hopes of future cooperation. Once motivated ‎by their religious leaders, Kurds started to realize their difference as Muslims from ‎Christian Armenians, Assyrians, Nestorians, Khaldians, etc…They gradually ‎developed hatred and enmity towards their Christians neighbors, something which proved ‎to be disastrous for the future of both parties.‎ During the following decades, nationalistic feelings started to ferment within the ‎Armenian communities of the Ottoman Empire. However, there seemed to be no way or ‎means by which the two ethnic groups could join forces.‎ During the rule of the religious sheiks, the major movement that originated in ‎Kurdistan was the rebellion of Sheik Obeidullah in 1880. Like its predecessors it was ‎strangled in a bloodbath. After this defeat the status quo changed completely. Armenian-‎Kurdish enmity escalated and reached its peak after 1880, specially during the reign of ‎the “Red Sultan,” Abdul Hamid II.‎


If until 1855-60 Armenian-Kurdish relations had a more or less friendly character, this ‎trend did not continue unabashed. The scene changed dramatically after 1860. This was ‎due mostly to the absence of Kurdish princes like Mohammed or Bedir Khan, who were ‎true advocates of Armenian-Kurdish cooperation.‎ Ottoman authorities were greatly pleased with the newly established status quo, ‎especially because with the demise of the Kurdish princes, the Kurdish tribes and clans ‎were left in a state of anarchy. It was the religious sheiks who assumed the leadership of ‎the tribes. The sheiks were not only unable to unify the Kurdish tribes under their rule, ‎but, with time, themselves became the “ears and eyes” of the Ottoman Sultans. ‎ One exception did occur, however. This took place in 1880, under the leadership ‎of Sheik Obeidullah. In reality, this movement was different from the traditional ‎movements of the previous Kurdish Amirs. Moreover, it was the first time that the ‎Kurdish tribes of Iran took part in it. On the other hand, Sheik Obeidullah’s rebellion did ‎not possess the potential and force of Bedir Khan’s or Yezdan Shers movement. Last but ‎not least, it had a distinct religious overtone. ‎ It was the Ottomans who tried to stir the religious pot. They constricted this ‎policy with the perspective of achieving enmity between the Kurds and Christian ‎Armenians. It is worthy to note here that until 1860 all across the Ottoman Empire, and ‎especially in the Armenian vilayets of Eastern Anatolia, Armenians in general were ‎considered a friendly element to the Ottoman Empire. As a matter of fact, the consecutive ‎sultans did not fear this “Milleti Sadika” (friendly people)” which paid its taxes and ‎conducted all its responsibilities towards the “benevolent” state. Instead, Ottomans purred ‎their anger on the troublesome Kurdish tribes in their attempt to crush their various ‎rebellions.‎ However, the rubrics of “peaceful Armenians” and the “friendly people” soon ‎came out of circulation. Nationalist ideas had found fertile ground within the Armenian ‎communities of the empire whose members were treated as second degree citizens in ‎their own homeland for almost five centuries. In 1862, Armenians in the Ottoman Empire ‎accomplished a major sociopolitical triumph, when they convinced the sultan to ratify ‎their national constitution, Azgayin Sahmanadrutiun. The document enabled ‎Armenians to bring some sort of organization to their communal life within the empire. ‎In another words, with this constitution the Armenian Patriarch (Milletbashi) became ‎the religious as well as the political leader of the Armenian Gregorian Millet (religious ‎community) within the Ottoman Empire. The constitution capacitated Istanbul Armenians ‎to establish ties and lines of communication with the Armenian communities of the ‎Eastern Armenian vilayets. With the communication, the sad reality of Armenians living ‎in Eastern Anatolia reached the Ottoman capital. A new network of Prelacies was soon ‎established with a bishop appointed at the head of each prelacy. Thus, after centuries of ‎seclusion and isolation, the different Armenian communities of the empire started to ‎communicate with one another under the umbrella of this religious network. Armenians ‎in Istanbul became active in projects involving remote Armenian societies. Schools soon ‎started to operate with the intention of bringing education to the illiterate masses. With ‎education enlightenment and notions of national belongingness started to flourish. Thus a ‎new Armenian image emerged.‎ The Kurds viewed Armenian accomplishments negatively. The already developed ‎enmity between them and the Armenians escalated to new hights, simply because they ‎were deprived of such an organization. This was due to their lack of unity and especially ‎their competitive tribal pattern of life. ‎ After 1864, however, the Turkish government developed a more lenient policy in ‎governing the Kurdish tribes. Ottoman armies were still kept stationed in Kurdistan, yet ‎their effectiveness was greatly reduced. But Kurds had already lost a great proportion of ‎their freedom loving spirit, and by this time they had reassumed their internal conflicts, ‎vendettas, and booty raids.‎ During the rule of the Kurdish Amirs, each Armenian country was under the ‎protection of a Kurdish prince to whom it paid tribute. By paying taxes, Armenian town ‎and villages were spared the cruel raids of Kurdish tribes. When the religious sheiks ‎came to power and stressed the religious difference between Armenians and Kurds, the ‎latter started pointing their guns towards peaceful Armenian peasants and targeted them ‎for their “traditional” booty raids.‎ The network of Armenian prelacies brought organization to the Armenian ‎communities scattered throughout the Ottoman Empire. Soon primates started to send ‎reports to the Patriarchate in Istanbul describing the difficulties and atrocities that ‎Armenians encountered at the hands of Kurdish tribal bands. In their letters, the primates ‎asked the Armenian patriarch to bring the matter to the attention of the Sublime Porte and ‎to demand Protection for Armenians in the remote eastern vilayets. However, most of ‎these reports were literally kept in the Patriarchate’s drawers, mainly because ‎conservative and well to do Armenians, Amiras and Sarrafs, whose effectiveness had ‎been diminished by the National Constitution, but who in reality were still able to exert ‎great pressure on the Patriarch, made him keep his silence so as not to endanger their, i.e. ‎the Amiras’ positions and fortunes. The Sublime Porte not only pretended not to hear the ‎Armenian demands, on the contrary, it approached the Kurds and tried to gain them to its ‎side. It even encouraged them to increase their raids on Armenian towns and villages.‎ In 1877 a new Russo-Turkish war started. The Russians launched an offensive to erase ‎the shame and humility that they encountered in their defeat in the Crimean War. This ‎time the Ottomans were unable to depend on Europe’s help. Actually, most of the ‎European powers were at odds with the Sublime Porte. Some of them even joined Russia ‎against the Ottoman Empire.‎ By this time Armenians and Kurds had swapped their historical roles. The ‎formers were now regarded as enemies of the empire while the latter were the obedient ‎followers of the Ottomans. Kurds actually helped the Ottoman in their war effort. By not ‎attacking the flanks of the Ottoman armies they eased security in the Ottoman backyard, ‎thus gaining the government’s trust.‎ On the Northern front, the Russians planned and executed quick and decisive ‎offensives and occupied all of Northern Anatolia. A second Russian army marched in a ‎northwest and then Southern direction and after several victorious battles reached the ‎gates of Istanbul. “The sick man of Europe” was once again rescued because of ‎contradicting European politics, which now worked desperately to stop the Russian ‎advance and to make Russia reach an agreement with sultan.‎ As a result of the 1877 Russo-Turkish conflicts, the “Armenian Question” came into ‎existence as part and parcel of the broader Eastern Question. The war ended with the ‎Treaty of San Stefano. Article sixteen of this treaty stated that the Sublime Porte was ‎under obligation to bring about much needed reforms in the Eastern vilayets that were ‎inhabited by Armenians, and that Russian troops were to be stationed in those areas until ‎such reforms were met. The article also demanded that the Sublime Porte had to protect ‎Armenians against Kurdish and Cherkez aggression. (16)‎ Evidently, the Russian victory could have secured a major victory to Armenian ‎dreams of autonomy within a federative state. But the Turks used all of their canny ‎diplomatic means and European ties to extinguish such Armenian hopes as formulated by ‎article sixteen of the Treaty of San Stefano. Turkish diplomatic endeavors paid their ‎dividends. After only one year the Armenian cause suffered a great defeat at the ‎Congress of Berlin, in 1878, which was called upon by the European powers, on the ‎request of Ottoman Turkey, which aimed at nulling and voiding the terms of San Stefano. ‎Article sixty-one of the Congress of Berlin dealt with the Armenian Question. It was ‎milder in context than article sixteen of the San Stefano Treaty. According to this new ‎article, the concept of an autonomous Armenian state was altered. Russian Armies were ‎not to remain in the eastern vilayets. The sultan was to initiate reforms as he saw fit. (17)‎ For Turks, Armenians could no longer be trusted as the “Milleti Sadika”, the ‎subordinate element. They were preparing themselves for the cause of freedom. Realizing ‎that the cultural, social, and economic advantages of the Armenian communities were ‎diametrically opposed to the pastoral status of the highly nomadic Kurdish tribes, the ‎Ottoman government saw it necessary to develop a strictly negative policy towards ‎Armenians. In this regard, the Ottomans used Kurdish hatred towards Armenians as a ‎means to carry out their policies. By having the Kurds dangling as a “Tamoglian Sword” ‎over their heads, Armenians would be busy dealing with it and lose precious time that ‎would otherwise be dedicated for their cause of freedom.‎ Ironically, a new Kurdish threat developed during this period. Thinking that they ‎were finally able to control the Kurdish population and their rebellious spirit, the ‎Ottomans had almost no armies in Kurdistan. In fact, the Russian offensive had ‎demanded the utilization of all of the Ottoman military might. Therefore, the evacuation ‎of Turkish troops from Kurdistan was a necessity. With no Ottoman threat in sight, a new ‎rebellion started to take shape in Kurdistan, which also engulfed Kurdish territories in ‎Iran. It originated under the leadership of Sheik Obeidullah who was the son of Sheik ‎Taha, the highest religious authority in Kurdistan.‎

A. - Sheik Obeidullah and the Rebellion of 1880‎

The last Kurdish rebellion of the nineteenth century broke out in 1880. For the ‎first time Kurds from Iran participated in it.‎ In December 1872, the Iranian government demanded the Kurds living in Khoy ‎and the regions of the Sea of Urmia to pay taxes for previous years. Kurdish leaders ‎objected by saying that they had already paid their duties to Sheik Obeidullah whose ‎family enjoyed this privilege since 1836.‎ Not willing to tolerate such a Kurdish objection, the Shah sent an army to Khoy to ‎punish the Kurds and to collect the proper taxes. Seeing the immediate Iranian danger, ‎Sheik Obeidullah asked the Sublime Porte to interfere on his behalf and stop the Shah ‎from destroying the Kurdish territory of Khoy. The Ottoman government sent the vali of ‎Erzurum as an envoy to Iran. The vali was unable to accomplish his mission because the ‎Shah rejected all of Sheik Obeidullah’s peace proposals. (18)‎ During the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, some Ottoman regiments acted cruelly ‎against Kurds in the regions of Dersim, Hakkari, Mardin, and Bohtan. Sheik ‎Obeidullah asked the sultan to pull his forces back and bring an end to the atrocities. ‎Realizing that the Sublime Porte was intentionally ignoring his requests, the sheik ‎established secret ties with the Khedive of Egypt, the Sherif of Mecca and the Russian ‎consuls of Van and Erzurum. He wanted to bring their attention on the Kurdish problem. ‎Russia had newly signed a treaty with the Ottomans. It was not prepared to undertake a ‎new venture. Having received no guarantees from the Tsar, Obeidullah dropped Russia ‎from his plans and started to make preparations alone.‎ Yet what was the position of Europe and specially Great Britain towards the sheik and his ‎activities? Of course England had almost always been a defender of Ottoman integrity. ‎This policy was kept not because of love or admiration of the Ottoman Empire but for ‎two other reasons: first, because Europe was not able to divide “the Sick man of Europe” ‎peacefully among its states. Therefore, preserving it and the status quo it represented was ‎the best way o secure England’s route to her Far Eastern colonies. Second, to have the ‎Ottoman Empire as an enemy was to invite Muslim animosity against the British, since ‎the sultan was after all the Khalifa, the successor to the line of the Prophet Mohammed. ‎The British were really sensitive in this regard because of their Muslim colonies in India ‎and elsewhere. They were not ready to confront the wrath of some three hundred million ‎Muslim over whom they held sway.‎ Beside all these considerations, a free and independent Kurdistan would first harm ‎the territorial integrity and the unity of the Ottoman Empire and also endanger England’s ‎land route to its Indian colonies. So it was evident why England was never in favor of the ‎creation of a free and independent Kurdistan. Sheik Obeidullah knew this, and he also ‎knew that England was another power on the list of his enemies. But a power, which ‎needed close surveillance, since, it could do much harm with all its military and ‎diplomatic might.‎ Nevertheless, the English were quick to act as before with Yezdan Sher, they used ‎not military but diplomatic means, since that was more likely to work again in such ‎situations. Soon the British Consul of Van undertook the long journey and appeared at ‎the sheik’s palace in Shamsdinan. The Consul told Obeidullah that Britain stood with the ‎totality of the Ottoman State, but at the same time it wanted to encourage reforms for ‎Kurds, Armenians, and Nestorian Assyrians living in Kurdistan. The Sheik assured the ‎consul that all Sunni Kurds are faithful to the Ottoman Sultan. It seems that the British ‎consul fell prey to the sheik’s words and returned to Van thinking that he accomplished ‎his mission and gained the Sheik’s confidence. After his visit, the Sheik’s forces received ‎weapons and ammunition from the British. These arrived under the cover of relief ‎ aid. (19)‎ It seems that Obeidullah was himself a gifted politician besides being a religious ‎leader. He was ambitious, and he worked for several goals simultaneously. He also ‎wanted to establish his rule over Kurdistan. On the other hand, Sultan Abdul Hamid II ‎wanted to use the Sheik and manipulate him for his own purposes. The sultan had ‎developed a Pan-Islamic ideology, which aimed at using of religious authority to unify ‎the weakened empire and restore its greatness. Obeidullah and his alikes seemed to be ‎important in carrying out such a plan. So the sheik’s part was to block Armenian ‎resistance and thus help the sultan to destroy reform projects which European powers ‎pressured him for. As for the question that such a part would increase the strength of the ‎Kurdish sheik, Abdul Hamid was clever enough not to let the balance be disturbed. His ‎politics worked in the direction of strengthening the various religious leaders, but on ‎condition that none of them exceeded others in power and became a threat to the central ‎government. Sultan Abdul Hamid did let the Kurdish Sheik grow strong, but he always ‎balanced that strength and made sure that the sheik was under his control. (20)‎ Makhumtov views Sheik Obeidullah’s movement as strictly nationalistic. Such ‎feelings are understood even if not shared, since historical research shows a different ‎perspective. Makhmutov bases his opinion on one of Obeidullah’s speeches during which ‎he is supposed to have said that:‎

‎ “Ottoman rule was established five hundred and fifty years ago. Ottoman ‎achieved their ruling positions by using all of the illegal avenues that they could think of. ‎As long as the Shariah (Muslim religious code of law, derived from the writings and the ‎Hadises of the prophet-G.M.) demands that the sultan [sick, Khalifa-G.M.] must be of ‎the Prophet’s lineage, Ottoman rule on the Islamic world is accordingly null and ‎unlawful”. (21)‎

Being a religious leader, Sheik Obeidullah had to use religious overtones in order ‎to strengthen his position. Even if the authenticity of the speech is put under question, its ‎wording indicates no nationalistic feeling but rather a definite religious content. The ‎mention of the Shariah alone is reason enough in this respect. Therefore, the nationalistic ‎outlook with which Makhnutov tries to color Obeidullah’s movement does not seem to fit ‎the historical record. Anyway, this could be proven by the fact that the Kurdish Sheik ‎became the victim of his highly ambitious character. In the end he and his people came ‎under the duel fire of the Ottoman and Iranian armies. (22)‎ How did this downfall happen? In February 1880 (July, according to Makhumutov), ‎Obeidullah invited the Kurdish tribal chieftains to a meeting in his capital city of ‎Shamsdinan. During the discussions, the sheik spoke out that he had abandoned the idea ‎of fighting the sultan and the shah simultaneously, and that instead he had decided to ‎attack Iran first (an indication of his pro-ottoman position perhaps). Warfare started in ‎October of the same year. Obeidullah, with an army of eighty thousand, first occupied ‎Sudjbulak (Mahabad), then Maraghi, and then the strategic city of Tabiz. The ‎disorganized Kurdish army soon diverted from its real objectives and Obeidullah was ‎unable to manage and lead an army comprised mainly of undisciplined tribal warriors. ‎Soon booty raids became so frequent that Tabriz and its defense was totally neglected. ‎The whole movement was endangered.‎ Frightened, the shah asked for Ottoman intervention in order to stop Obeidullah’s ‎offensive. The sultan had helped the Kurdish sheik in his campaign, but now he was ‎worried that the sheik had exceeded his limits. Soon Ottoman armies appeared on the ‎scene. Obeidullah was now caught between the Ottoman and Iranian forces. He ‎abandoned his newly conquered territories and fled to Shamsdinan.‎ The Ottoman government did not punish Obeidullah, because the sheik and his ‎forces could still be of use to secure the Southern flank of the Iranian-Turkish border. Yet ‎the sheik’s campaign had made him a hero. Eventually, his authority had grown too ‎much. Abdul Hamid used politics and diplomacy to solve this problem. He sent valuable ‎gifts to the various Kurdish sheiks and tribal chieftains. He invited Obeidullah to ‎Istanbul. The sheik was not in favor of such an invitation, but he was encouraged to travel ‎by the other Kurdish leaders. He finally accepted the invitation and traveled to the ‎Ottoman capital, where he was welcomed by a special parade in his honor, contrary to the ‎protests of the Iranian ambassador to the Sublime Porte.‎ Obeidullah returned to Shamsdinan. Yet as soon as he reached there, the sultan ‎exiled him to Mecca. Obeidullah did not stay long in Mecca. He returned to Shamsdinan ‎from where he was once again taken to Istanbul. After living there for a while, he was ‎exiled once again because of his “liberal ideas”. With the declaration of the constitution ‎in 1908, Obeidullah was allowed to return to Istanbul.‎ In 1925, Obeidullah was apprehended because of his participation in the rebellion ‎of Sheik Said Ali of Dersim. The military court of Diarbekir (which was assembled for ‎the purpose of convicting the Kurdish rebel elements) judged him. He was found guilty ‎and was hanged with Sheik Said and his followers. Sheik Obeidullah’s movement was ‎the last Kurdish insurrection of the nineteenth century. Abdul Hamid’s canny diplomacy ‎was capable of changing the Kurdish character.‎ In 1885, the first Armenian political part, the Armenakan Party, was formed in ‎Van, the heart of Ottoman Armenia. During the following five years, the Armenian ‎communities in the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Caucasus were in rapid change. In ‎‎1887, the Social Democratic Henchakian Party was formed, and two years later the first ‎attempts towards uniting all Armenian nationalists in a single entity was achieved in ‎Tibilsi (Tiflis), Georgia, where the Federation of Armenian Revolutionaries (Hay ‎Heghabokhakanneri Dashnaksutiun) was formed. Two years later the federation of all ‎Armenian revolutionaries seemed to be a futile experiment. Many abandoned it; the ‎remaining members formed a new party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Hay ‎Heghapokhagan Dashnaksutium, A.R.F hereafter). As a result, the Armenian Question ‎entered a period of dramatic escalation. Abdul Hamid and his government fought with all ‎their might to surpress this new movement for autonomy. And what could have been ‎more useful than the Kurdish tribes with which to accomplish this goal…‎


‎“We Armenians must try to share our enthusiasm with them. For this, we do not ‎have any other means except out motivation, with which we could strengthen ourselves ‎and become live models, and show that we Armenians are capable of defending our, and ‎our neighbor’s rights as well. If we create this vigor, then we will have the Kurdish ally. ‎Otherwise, Armenians will remain as raiding and robbing targets for the Kurds, and at no ‎time will they accept us as partners in the struggle against the common enemy.” ‎

Kristapor Mikayelian ‎ ‎(Founding member, A.R.F)‎

After the major Kurdish rebellions of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire ‎changed its policies towards the Kurds. The sultan tried to establish a common ‎denominator between the government and the Kurdish ruling class. This way, the ‎Ottoman government expected to gain the Kurds on its side. By offering them a ‎partnership in the ruling process, the government was to gain unconditional Kurdish ‎cooperation in exchange.‎ The protagonist of this new policy was sultan Abdul Hamid II himself. He needed ‎the Kurds as allies to disseminate and advocate his Pan-Islamic ideology within the ‎Kurdish communities. Abdul Hamid aimed at restoring the sultanate and the empire and ‎to bring back the glory of the old days, after decades of weakness and corruption. When ‎Kurdish leaders sensed that the sultan was ready to meet their demands, they willingly ‎offered their services to him.‎ Before proceeding any further, a brief analysis of the Pan-Islamic ideology that ‎Sultan Abdul Hamid II advocated will suffice.‎ When this capricious sultan occupied the Ottoman throne, the country was already ‎on the verge of decline. Consecutive wars had weakened the government and had ‎emptied its coffers. Several vassal territories in the European part of the empire had by ‎then regained their freedom. On the other hand, Europe grew so strong that it controlled ‎the foreign and even the domestic politics of the Ottoman Empire. European powers ‎brought the Ottoman economy under their supervision. Its representatives demanded the ‎sultan to carry out reforms for the minorities (Armenians, Greeks, etc.). Europe insisted ‎that this was necessary to secure the empire’s internal tranquility and save it from further ‎disintegration.‎ Against this enormous European pressure, Abdul Hamid devised his own political ‎agenda. Through the teachings of Jamal Ul Din Al Afghani (a Muslim ideologue) and ‎his direct tutelage, he emphasized the importance of Islam as a cohesive force which was ‎destined to amalgamate the empire’s mostly Muslim peoples. Abdul Hamid intended to ‎recreate a strong central government. This could only be achieved by the unification of ‎the ethnically diverse yet religiously homogeneous Muslim population of the empire. The ‎sultan’s contention was that if he could accumulate this religious power in his hands, he ‎would be able to restore his political authority as well. ‎ With such power, Abdul Hamid could block European interference in his internal ‎affairs. At the same time, he could control the minorities’ demands of autonomy. He ‎could even suppress new separatist movements. As a result of the Pan-Islamic policies of ‎Abdul Hamid, the enmity between the Armenians and the Kurds escalated to new hights ‎after 1880. The two neighboring people were unable to tolerate each other. According to ‎Sasuni: “The Kurdish national movement stopped completely at about the same moment ‎the Armenian national freedom struggle was born. At this juncture, a new Turko-Kurdish ‎united front was shaped. In the decades that followed, it became the primary evil against ‎the Armenian struggle for freedom”. (23)‎ The absorption of the Kurdish “nobility” within the ruling Ottoman elite was to be ‎one of Abdul Hamid’s canniest moves ever. Kendal notes that: ‎

‎“… This policy of centralization, based on the integration of the Kurdish leaders, ‎enabled the empire to make good use of the Kurdish people’s warlike qualities, partly as ‎backing for an eventually conflict with the Russians, but mainly as a means of repressing ‎the national movements of the various peoples struggling against Ottoman rule such as ‎Armenians, Arabs, Albanians, and even the Kurds.” (24)‎

In every corner of the eastern vilayets, Kurds viewed Armenians as infidels who ‎could be robbed, and mimed. In Alashkert, Vaspurkan (vilayet of Van), Pasen, and ‎Diarbekir, armed bands of Kurdish tribal warriors named Hamidiye-- after sultan Abdul ‎Hamid II, who sanctioned their establishment-- raided and looted Armenian towns and ‎villages. They even murdered Armenian peasants. Some of these atrocities were the ‎consequence of fanatic religious speeches that filled Kurds with blind hatred and ‎transformed them into vigilantes. Anarchy was now dominant from on end of Western ‎Armenia to the other. To defend themselves against this Kurdish menace, Armenians ‎tried to get organized. Some Armenians were outlawed because of injuring or killing a ‎raiding Kurd. They were obligated to flee form Ottoman justice and take refuge in the ‎mountains as fugitives. Soon these fugitives grew in number in the remote mountainous ‎areas. They organized themselves into fedayeen groups with the intent to avenge their ‎families. (25) Arapo and Mekho in Sasun, Huno in Alashkert, Akripasian and ‎Koloshian in Vaspurakan were thus transformed into legendary “outlaws” who became ‎leaders of these groups. Those modern Robin Hoods fought Kurdish and Turkish army ‎units. They tried to defend their rights and seek justice with their own hands. “However, ‎these bands were few in number and their actions had but a limited effect on the situation ‎in general. They were unable to restrain the Kurdish terror which by now had grown to an ‎unbearable magnitude.” (26)‎ Kurdish atrocities against Armenians reached their peak in 1895, when thousands ‎of Kurds, with the help of regular Turkish regiments, attacked the secluded mountainous ‎Armenian villages of Sasun and ruthlessly massacred the population. Notorious amongst ‎Kurdish Chieftains in their dealings with Armenians were Musa Beg and his brother ‎Chacho. Musa Beg’s evils were spread all over Sasun and even Mush. The government ‎was unable to deny the many protests which Armenian villagers submitted against him. ‎The authorities unwillingly exiled Musa Beg into Western Turkey. Yet the Kurdish ‎chieftain returned after a while and was even appointed a leader of an Hamidiye ‎regiment. ‎ Another event that is worth mentioning is the battle of the Birm. Kurds tried to ‎subjugate the Armenian villages of the Birm district. Yet Armenian villagers defended ‎themselves. Having exhausted their ammunition and supplies, their resistance was ‎destroyed and they were massacred. Similar battles occurred in Ghizilaghaj, Hirgert and ‎other parts of Ottoman Armenia.‎

A. The Rebellions of Sasun (1892-1904)‎

After 1890, the Turkish government and the Kurdish tribes focused their attention ‎on the mountainous Armenian villages and settlements of Sasun. Abdul Hamid was very ‎specific in choosing this Armenian “freedom nest.” Subjugating the last of the Armenian ‎strongholds would evidently silence the Armenian liberation movement and its demands ‎of autonomy. Furthermore, this would serve as an example to other minorities who ‎entertained ideas about autonomy or even separation from the Ottoman Empire.‎ In 1892, skirmishes between Kurds and Armenian villagers became frequent all ‎over Sasun. Kurdish chieftains were outraged, because Armenian villagers refused to pay ‎extra taxes. On the other hand, Armenians argued that the Ottoman government heavily ‎taxed them. Moreover, being poor villagers, they were unable to pay the extra taxes ‎demanded by the Kurdish tribal leaders. However, it must be stated that it was at about ‎this time that some Armenian agitators, mainly from the Henchakian party, had moved ‎to Sasun to entice the villages of this remote Armenian dwelling. Acknowledged as ‎patriots by local Armenian villagers and as revolutionaries, terrorists, and even traitors by ‎the government, it was these nationalist instigators who encouraged the villagers to refuse ‎to pay the Kurdish lords.‎ The first serious Kurdish advance towards Sasun started in the summer of 1894. ‎Murad, the Henchakian leader in Sasun organized the bombing of the Satan’s Bridge, ‎‎(Satani Kamurch’)which was still being built. It was to serve as a strategic passage to the ‎mountains of Sasun and was to provide ample employment for Kurdish laborers. ‎Outraged by this act, Kurdish forces moved toward the Armenian stronghold on the first ‎of August. Kurdish Hamidiye cavalrymen and troops from fourth Turkish army battalion ‎from Bitlis soon joined them. The villages of Sasun were besieged, yet neither the ‎Kurdish nor the Turkish forces were able to advance because of the tight-armed ‎resistance of Armenian villagers and the few nationalist agitators helping them.‎ The outraged Mushir Zeki Pasha, the commander in chief of the joint Turko-‎Kurdish forces, planned and executed yet another offensive in 1895. In a way, these ‎attacks were reminiscent of Ottoman assaults launched against Kurdish Amirs during ‎earlier decades of the nineteenth century. ‎ This second offensive lacked any success. However, Armenian resistance was also ‎weekend because of several weeks of intense fighting, Turkish troops and Kurdish ‎irregulars were finally able to pierce through Armenian front lines and enter Sasun. The ‎‎“eagles’ nest” was subjugated. More than a thousand villagers were killed; some one ‎hundred and sixty fedayeens were captured and murdered by torture. (29)‎ The atrocities of the Turkish troops and the Kurdish tribesmen in Sasun attracted ‎European interest. European ambassadors intervened on behalf of Armenians to stop the ‎brutality and the meaningless massacres. On May 11, 1895, the ambassadors of England, ‎France, Russia, and other European states handed Sultan Abdul Hamid a memorandum ‎demanding swift reforms in the six Armenian vilayets of Eastern Anatolia. Sultan Hamid ‎had no other choice but to agree to the reform project, at least to silence Europe whose ‎representatives had already traveled to Sasun and had witnessed the cruelties first hand.‎ ‎ What sultan Abdul Hamid accepted was the memorandum known as “The May ‎Project of Reforms”. However, he not only Prevented it from being enforced, but also ‎even continued his aggression on Sasun during 1896-1897. Armenian villagers did stage ‎limited acts of self-defense. In the long run, however, they were always to be defeated ‎against the broader Turkish and Kurdish forces. Thousands of Armenians perished of ‎brutality in the period 1895-1897. Susan revolted once again in 1904. But it was once ‎again silenced by similar measures.‎ During Sasun’s fight for self-defense in 1895, Armenian nationalistic agitation ‎was already surfacing in other parts of Ottoman Armenia. Acts were staged even in the ‎capital city of Constantinople. Events like the seizure of the Ottoman Bank by A.R.F. ‎fedayeens and the disturbances that occurred at about the same time in some suburbs of ‎the capital alarmed the sultan. Abdul Hamid was not dealing with the problem in the ‎secluded mountains of Sasun, but in the very heart of his capital, exposed to European ‎powers and the international community at large. By accepting the May reform project, ‎Hamid was able to silence Europe and free his hand in seeking revenge against ‎Armenians. He dumped hundreds of thew into prison. He brilliantly staged a series of ‎massacres near and even inside Istanbul under the very eyes of the European ‎ambassadors. Hamid presented his policies as measures and tactics taken against ‎revolutionaries and traitors. To toll of these Hamidian Massacres was some three ‎hundred thousand Armenian dead. (30) In the Eastern vilayets, Kurds once again became ‎the tools of the slaughter. ‎ The May reform project showed that European powers intervened simply at the ‎last moment, and on a solely humanitarian basis in order to preserve Armenian existence. ‎Armenians never gave up hope from Europe. Yet it seems that the Armenian provinces ‎were too remote to attract such importance as that of the magnitude that Greece or the ‎Balkans possessed.‎ The only Christian power interested in Western Armenia was Russia. It had ‎labored and gradually absorbed the Eastern Armenian provinces, namely the Khanates of ‎Erivan, Nakhichevan, Gharabagh, and Gianja from Kajar Iran as well as the ‎territories of Kars and Artahan from the Ottoman Empire. Armenian nationalistic ‎agitation and political societies first fermented in the Eastern provinces of Armenia, as ‎well as Tbilisi, the capitol of Georgia.‎ In European capitols such as London, Paris, Vienna, Geneva Armenian University ‎students had already organized themselves into political groups. They discussed the ‎Armenian question in the Ottoman Empire, and they tried to find the means with which ‎an autonomous Armenian entity could be materialized. In fact, Ottoman Armenia was the ‎birthplace of the first Armenian political party, the Armenakan Party, created in Van, in ‎‎1885, through efforts of an Armenian intellectual, Mekerdich Portukalian, himself a ‎student from Europe, who, after returning to his hometown, started his nationalistic ‎career as a teacher. Portukalian surrounded himself with the active youth of the city, and ‎motivated them towards the cause of freedom.‎ In 1887, the second Armenian political Party, the Henchakian Party, was formed ‎in Geneva by a group of Armenian students. It soon started to publish its organ, Henchak ‎‎(literally The Bell, after Gologol—also Bell—the organ of the Russian anarchists and ‎their founder, Bakunin), advocating Armenian freedom.‎ The first attempt at uniting Armenian nationalists and revolutionary intellectuals ‎failed in Tiflis where the Federation of Armenian Revolutionaries was created in August ‎‎1890. Two years later, the Federation was transformed into a new party, the Armenian ‎Revolutionary Federation (A.R.F.). It assumed the role of the protector of oppressed ‎Armenians within the Ottoman Empire, and it devoted itself to the cause of their ‎liberation. For this reason, the A.R.F. realized the importance of Kurdish cooperation and ‎tried to approach this tribal people and to bring it closer to the Armenian cause. This was ‎not a simple task to achieve. Armenians had almost nothing to offer the Kurds except ‎their true friendship and an honest faith in the power of a unified Armenian-Kurdish ‎struggle and what it could accomplish.‎ It was not easy to make the Kurdish tribes understand this important and vital ‎message, especially since they were repeatedly hearing the opposite from their Ottoman ‎rulers. Armenian nationalists realized this difficulty early on. They were convinced that ‎in order to bring the Kurds to their camp, a show of force was required, because it was ‎only might and vigor that could influence a Kurd. Armenians also approached some ‎Kurdish intellectuals in Istanbul. They even established a limited communication with ‎some of the so-called “liberal” Kurdish chieftains and they tried to make them aware of ‎the reality. ‎

B. Relations During Hamid’s Reign.‎

Abdul Hamid encouraged and motivated the Kurdish tribes towards suppressing ‎the Armenians. In many instances Armenians were cast as outlaws. Kurdish brutality ‎against them was even permitted by law. The sultan armed the Kurdish tribes and then ‎formed the Hamidiye corps from among the fiercest of the Kurdish fighters. Incorporated ‎within the framework of the Ottoman army, these Hamidiye regiments proved to be a real ‎menace for Armenians. In a matter of months they accomplished what regular Ottoman ‎troops took years to accomplish. Elucidating this period Sasuni states: -‎

‎ “During this long period of enmity between Kurds and Armenians (1880-1908), ‎the Armenian cause suffered. This enmity took a heavy toll on Armenians. Its memories ‎remained even when later conditions were changed between the two people. In order to ‎shed some light on the future developments of Armenian-Kurdish relations, we have to ‎add here that many attempt were made to ease the situation and to decrease the hostility ‎between the two neighbors.” (31)‎

What were these “attempts” and what kind of work was done in order to bring a ‎compromise?‎ After the first A.R.F. general convention, almost all of its leaders who were sent ‎to Western Armenia tried to approach the Kurdish tribes. It was necessary, even ‎imperative, to make Kurds understand that the Armenian freedom movement was ‎directed towards the Ottoman and not the Kurds.‎ Even before the retaliatory Khanasor Expedition, during which the A.R.F. ‎fedayeen punished the Kurdish Mazrik tribe (stationed on the southeastern border region ‎between Iran and the Ottoman Empire), to show Kurds that they do not have a free hand ‎in raiding and killing Armenian peasants, the A.R.F. Central committee of Iran ‎established direct negotiations with the Kurdish tribes of Vaspurakan, with the purpose of ‎achieving an accord with them. The negotiation had only a partial success. Some Kurdish ‎tribes began to cooperate with the Armenian parties and the fedayeen groups, especially ‎in such tasks as messenger services and arms transportation. First transporting military ‎supplies from Russia to the Iranian border districts, and from there to Van, Mush, and ‎Sasun in Western Armenia accomplished this. This network operated smoothly through ‎the help of Kurdish tribes dwelling along the transportation route.‎ It must be noted, however, that Kurdish tribes and villages that cooperated with ‎the Armenian Movement were limited in number. Most of them, it seems, participated in ‎the effort out of fear, because they were situated within the field of action of the ‎Armenian fedayeen groups. Only a very small number of individual Kurds collaborated ‎with Armenians because of their belief in the justness of the Armenian cause. Some even ‎joined the Armenian fedayeen groups and died heroically fighting side by side with their ‎Armenian comrades.‎ Before attempting to reach a final evaluation of the various means employed at ‎creating a more positive Armenian-Kurdish relationship, a cursory mention of some ‎notable Armenian patriots who endeavored to establish a mutual understanding between ‎these who neighboring people will suffice. The list of those patriots dates back to the ‎‎1850’s when clergymen like Khrimian Hayrik (Mekerdich Khrimian. Hayrik means ‎Father in Armenian), then the Catholicos of Monastery of Akhtamar in Van, Karekin ‎Servantziants, a priest and author at the same monastery, tried to advocate Armenian-‎Kurdish cooperation through their literature. In the 1890’s this work was continued by ‎figures such as Rev. Vartan (Vartan Vartapet) of Saint Garabet’s Monastery in Sasun, ‎Hrayr Tzhokhks (Armenak) of Sasun, and Keri (literally uncle, Rupen Shishmanian) ‎of Dersim.‎ Rev. Vartan was a respected clergyman. He was also a devoted nationalist. ‎During his administration, the monastery became a hiding place for Armenian fedayeen ‎and a depot for arms and ammunition. Rev. Vartan realized very early in his career that ‎an understanding must be reached with the Kurdish tribes of Hazzo (Sasun). He ‎dedicated his life to accomplish this important task. He created some inroads with Kurds ‎through his pious character. The “Keshish” (literally priest, father) as the Kurds used to ‎call him thus brought some ease to the Armenian villages that he served. ‎ Creating a positive atmosphere between Kurds and Armenians was a priority to ‎Hrayr of Sasun, another devoted figure of the Armenian Nationalist Movement. He ‎started his revolutionary career as a member of the Henchakian Party and was initiated by ‎Mihran Damadian, the first Henchakist agent to Sasun. Later, Hrayr joined the ranks of ‎the A.R.F. After 1895, he became the central figure of the Armenian Nationalist ‎Movement in Sasun. He stringently advocated Armenian-Kurdish cooperation. His ‎teaching became the basis for other revolutionary figure such as Kevork Chavush and ‎Rupen Ter Minassian. Hrayr journeyed to the Armenian and Kurdish villages of Sasun ‎disguised as a dervish (beggar, pious man). Once his presence was established he ‎motivated the illiterate masses towards the cause of freedom. However, these calls ‎remained incidental and their results negligible. Kurdish Sheiks and Begs sometimes ‎cooperated with the A.R.F. on a personal basis and for only short periods of time.‎ As for Keri, he became the central figure of the Armenian freedom struggle in the ‎districts of Dersim and Erzinjan as early as 1895 and continued to be so until 1899. The ‎A.R.F. Bureau (highest executive body) sent Garabet Ghumrikian as its agent to ‎organize these remote Kurdish territories and motivate its leaders towards freedom. Keri, ‎who was by now heading a fedayeen group, participated enthusiastically in this task. ‎However, he was discouraged by the politics of the A.R.F. Bureau, which directed most ‎of the organization’s potential towards Sasun and Vaspurakan, thus leaving Keri alone ‎with no funds or dedicated personnel to continue his task in Dersim. Meanwhile, Keri ‎succeeded in establishing firm and friendly ties with the Kurdish leaders of Dersim. He ‎enjoyed a high popularity within the Kurdish tribes there. Most of them respected him ‎and always listened to his advice. Keri’s efforts blossomed very late, when Sheik Said ‎Ali of Piran rebelled against the Turkish government in 1924-1925. By then Keri was ‎already martyred. Eventually, he did not witness the results of his dedicated endeavor.‎ Stories of devoted Kurdish fedayeen and their adherence to the Armenian cause of ‎freedom occupies a special chapter in the history of the Armenian Revolutionary ‎Movement. This in itself could be the subject of an important historical research, which is ‎outside the scope of this narrative.‎ The Kurds never suspected, however, that the Armenian massacres were only the ‎first phase of a more general plan, whose second act would be their--i.e. The Kurd’s--‎own distinction. By the time Kurds realized this, it was already too late. In 1897, ‎atrocities similar to those in Sasun occurred in the city of Van. Armenians were obliged ‎to take defensive measures. When Armenian resistance was weakened, the militants of ‎the three Armenian political parties operating in Van—after negotiating with the ‎authorities through the offices of the Russian consul – decided to retreat from the city to ‎save the population from eminent massacres. However, as soon as they started to retreat, ‎they came under heavy fire and were attacked by a Kurdish mob. The Armenian fedayeen ‎took refuge in the hills surrounding Van. They were besieged and murdered by Kurdish ‎irregulars, who hunted them down. ‎ Recalling this incident Rupen Ter Minasian writes: - ‎

‎“With this (the Van resistance), the leaders of the three Armenian parties of Van ‎and most of their devoted followers were massacred. And so they died on the path of ‎freedom, which they adored. This was a tremendous blow not only for the parties ‎involved but to the Armenian people of Vaspurakan as well. The most devoted and ‎educated of the Armenian nationalists were martyred. After this blow, they [Henchakian ‎Party, G.M.] never recovered. Its organization in Van was halted. With the martyrdom of ‎Avetisian, the Armenakan Party in turn received a decisive blow. Its remaining members ‎soon joined the A.R.F.” (32)‎

The cruelty of the Turkish regiments and especially that of the Kurdish mob ‎proved once again that there was no, nor can there be any, mutual trust between Kurds ‎and Armenians. It was as if cooperation with Armenians was a misnomer for Kurdish ‎mentality. The A.R.F. finally realized that the mild means with which it advocated ‎cooperation were useless. As a direct result, the Khanasor Expedition was organized in ‎late 1897. This retaliatory act heralded the massage that the A.R.F. did not forgive those ‎who spilled Armenian blood in the hills surrounding Van. Moreover, the message was ‎clear: severe punishment was to be extracted against Kurds thereafter. (33) On the other ‎hand, the expedition was truly an example of discipline and organization. The fedayeen ‎that attacked the Mazrik tribe acted as true soldiers. They directed their rifles only against ‎Kurdish tribal warriors, thus completing their task with a minimum number of civilian ‎casualties.‎ Nevertheless, most Kurdish aggression towards Armenians had no certain motive ‎behind it. Kurdish warriors had to comply with the battle calls of their sheiks and tribal ‎chieftains who followed Sultan Abdul Hamid’s policies almost blind-foldedly. Sasuni ‎mentions that at the eleventh hour before the Khanasor Expedition commenced, Vasken ‎Teroyan, known also as “Vasken of Vaspurakan”-- not being in favor of such an overt ‎military act and preferring the continuation of covert, underground organizational efforts ‎instead-- decided against participation in the campaign and ordered his fedayeen back to ‎Van. On their way back, the group was scouted and was caught in a fight against a ‎sizable Kurdish force which was about to surround it when Avo, the Kurdish scout of ‎Vasken’s group told the fedayeen to direct all their rifles in the direction of the leader of ‎the marauders whom he pointed by his finger. Eventually the Kurdish chieftain was ‎fatally wounded. Amazingly enough, the Kurds halted there offensive and retreated at the ‎exact moment when they could have given the fedayeen the decisive blow. (34)‎ Many such incidents are recorded in the history of the Armenian National Movement. ‎Ultimately, they prove the point that Sasuni tries to make. Obviously, Kurds followed ‎their leaders blindly, yet they deserted them at the first sign of danger.‎

C. Relations With Kurdish Intellectuals.‎

If brutality and mayhem were the marks of Kurdish raids in the Eastern vilayets, ‎Their intellectuals in Europe and even in the capital, Istanbul showed totally different ‎attitude towards Armenians. A Kurdish inelligentsia had started to mushroom in the ‎different European capitals after 1898. Kurdish students traveled to Europe to achieve ‎higher education. Living in Western societies and having engulfed the social ‎understandings and the nationalistic philosophies of the day, those young and active ‎Kurdish intellectuals realized the erroneous directions towards which the illiterate ‎Kurdish masses were driven. They tried hard to inform the Kurdish masses and motivate ‎them to live in cohesion and mutual understanding with their Armenian neighbors. Some ‎Kurdish students even wrote pamphlets in this regard. An example of such an essay is the ‎one written by Abdulrahman, the son of Bedirkhan Bey, whose Armenian translation ‎appeared in the A.R.F. organ, Droshak. The original Kurdish pamphlet was secretly ‎distributed within the Kurdish tribes. It was titled “Kurtlere Khitap” (A Call To The ‎Kurds), and it advocated cooperation with the Armenians and their cause. With simple ‎words and sentences Abdulrahman told his brethren about “the evil Sultan Abdul Hamid ‎and his treacherous policies,” insisting that joining hands with the Armenians is ‎important “because their struggle against the Ottoman oppressor is just, and Kurds must ‎take an example from it”. (35)‎ The A.R.F. organ dedicated two editorials to the question of mutual cooperation ‎between Kurds and Armenians. In them, the A.R.F. formally expressed its position of ‎welcoming Kurds to join the Armenian struggle. At the same time, however, it advised ‎them not to show hostility towards Armenians or their cause…‎ By 1900, the Armenian National Movement had acquired a respectable ‎reputation. Kurds realized that they either had to cooperate with Armenians or continue ‎their enmity and raid and be confronted by the vengeance of Armenian fedayeens. The ‎A.R.F. still advocated ideas of collaboration and mutual understanding. The party’s ‎literature of the day reflects this, since it uses the examples of the nineteenth century ‎Kurdish Amirs and their endeavors in establishing good relations with their Christian ‎neighbors. Of course, this was done to bring Kurds closer to the Armenian cause of ‎liberation, since there was a clear understanding in this regard between all Armenian ‎nationalists: only with the accomplishment of a strong Armenian-Kurdish cooperation ‎could the Armenian cause be effectively solved.‎ In 1903 Malkhas (Artashes Hovsepian), an American-Armenian physician and an ‎A.R.F. member, undertook a tedious and extremely dangerous journey to the ‎southernmost part of Kurdistan and reached its capital, Shamsdinan. The objective of the ‎trip was to meet with Sheik Sedekh, the son of the famous Sheik Obeydullah, and ‎establish negotiations with him. Malkhas persuaded the sheik to join his forces with the ‎Armenians. (36) This trend did not continue, because the A.R.F. was unable to send ‎another envoy to the sheik in 1904. Eventually, Sheik Sedekh’s enthusiasm faded away. ‎He brought his participation only late in 1908, after the declaration of the Ottoman ‎constitution. ‎ The A.R.F. also tried to show friendly attitudes towards the raya (serf) Kurdish ‎population, whose life was as miserable as that of the Armenian peasants. Between 1907-‎‎1908, the A.R.F. launched a campaign against Turkish and Kurdish tax-farmers and ‎absentee landlords. It went as far as assassinating some of the most cruel and bloodthirsty ‎of those bankers, who were a real threat to Armenian and Kurdish peasants alike. In fact, ‎Sultan Abdul Hamid had swarmed the Eastern vilayets with his agents and spies “the ‎eyes and the ears of the Sultan” and he knew about the assassination plans. However, he ‎was unable to stop the killing of some of his best servants. This elevated the esteem of the ‎A.R.F. and the Armenian movement among the raya Kurds. Some of them even joined ‎the Armenian movement.‎ The achievements mentioned above were only partial successes. Many Armenian ‎patriots gave their lives as a price for their trust in the Kurdish character. Those were ‎‎“true advocates of a positive Armenian-Kurdish relationship and had dedicated most of ‎their work for the achievement of that goal.” (37)‎


The Ottoman Constitution was reinstated on the tenth of July 1908. A season of ‎festivity spread throughout the empire. Oppressed nationalities and minorities thought ‎that the constitution would bring them liberty, justice and freedom. Moreover, it was ‎generally thought that the new constitutional government would condemn the brutal ‎policies of the Hamidian regime and initiate era of equality. Armenians also entertained ‎the hope that the constitutional was their long awaited salvation, and that under the new, ‎constitutional government, they would reclaim and even repossess their lands. As ‎Christian subjects of the empire, Armenians would now be relieved from heavy direct ‎taxation by the central government and indirect levies by Kurdish chieftains. ‎ For the Kurds, the new government structure was something incomprehensible. ‎Rumors indicated that the centuries old feudal system and customs would come to a halt. ‎This was outrageous, since yesterday’s raya (servant) Christians would stand up and ‎demand their rights, their lands, and their rectitude. Diverse interpretations of the ‎established governmental character created an even stronger division and enmity between ‎Armenians and Kurds.‎ Armenians advocated the Constitution. They remained a pro-constitutional ‎element and protected it until late in 1913, when, in reality, events such as the 1909 ‎massacres in Adana strongly indicated that constitutional Turkey was not the just and ‎ideal state which Armenians believed it to be. Until 1913, and even after, Armenian ‎parties and especially the A.R.F. continued to adhere to a policy of cooperation with the ‎constitutional Young Turk government. They primarily remained an ally of the Ittihad ‎Ve Terraki Firkasi (Union and Progress Party) Turkish party. Kurds, on the other hand, ‎adamantly remained a pro-sultan element and freely advocated the restoration of feudal-‎tribal life in the Eastern vilayets of Anatolia and Kurdistan.‎ The constitution did however bring enlightenment to some Kurds, in and around ‎Istanbul. As was mentioned before, a small Kurdish intelligentsia had developed in the ‎capital. Kurdish intellectuals took upon themselves the tedious and difficult task of ‎educating he Kurdish masses and enlightening them with the idea of liberalism. They ‎realized that Kurds could not continue to live in the Middle ages when the world was ‎changing rapidly. Kurdish intellectuals ultimately aspired for the creation of a Kurdish ‎nation as the first step towards the establishment of Kurdistan.‎

A. The First Kurdish Organizations

One of the most important reasons behind the failure of the Kurdish rebellions ‎movements of the nineteenth century was the absence of political parties and their ‎programs, which would have enhanced the popular basis of those movements.‎ In the middle of the nineteenth century, a few Kurdish students had the privilege of ‎attending European universities and acquiring Western education. In Europe Kurdish ‎students were introduced to the nationalistic and liberal ideologies of the day. They ‎brought those notions with them when they returned home. It is ironic to think that after ‎all it was the Ottoman government that sent scores of Turkish and Kurdish youth to study ‎aboard. Engulfed by the new ideologies, those returning intellectuals were not to sit still. ‎Actually, a true process of change had started to ferment in the Ottoman capital. The ‎reforms earlier in the century had culminated in the edicts of Hatti Sharif and Hatti ‎Humayun, the labor of love of European educated Ottoman reformists who became ‎known as the “Young Ottomans.” The sultan grudgingly ratified those edicts, bowing to ‎the will of the Turkish (and Kurdish) intelligentsia, whose members had by now assumed ‎important positions within the governmental structure. The reform process came to a halt, ‎however, when Sultan Abdul Hamid II ascended the throne in the wake of the 1876-1878 ‎Russo-Turkish war. It was to restart again in 1908, this time by the new Ittihadist “Young ‎Turk” intelligentsia, which had inherited the reformist and liberalist ideologies of its ‎predecessor.‎ After 1908, many Kurdish intellectuals were assigned to high governmental ‎positions. They motivated many Kurdish students to enter the University of Istanbul and ‎the Military Academy. Those educational institutions had their doors open to Kurds ‎since 1870. However, they were exclusive to sons of prominent Kurdish chieftains. ‎Moreover, Kurds attending those institutions were specially prepared to assume leading ‎positions within the Kurdish nobility and, at the same time, become obedient followers of ‎the sultan. ‎ Yet things were changing by the end of the nineteenth century. According to ‎Kendal:‎

‎ “In Istanbul of the turn of the century a city bubbling with revolutionary and ‎nationalistic agitation, these privileged few [Kurdish intellectuals, G.M.] became familiar ‎with European bourgeois ideas. They befriended liberal Kurdish nationalists. Like the ‎intellectuals of other nations, they launched journals and associations, both clandestine ‎and legal.” (38)‎

Until the Young Turk coup d’etat of 1908, Kurdish nationalists worked among ‎various other organizations. Some of them even held important positions within the ‎framework of the Ittihad Ve Terakki Party. In April of 1898, Midhad Bey, son of Amir ‎Bedir Khan, published the first Kurdish bilingual journal (Kurdish and Turkish). This ‎periodical published articles dealing with cultural and educational issues in general. Soon ‎it became “an important reviving tool for the Kurdish national sentiments.” The pages of ‎the publication represented a real platform for Kurdish intellectuals. Abdul Rahman ‎succeeded his brother, Midhat, as chief editor. Because of the tight political atmosphere, ‎which preceded the first global war, he relocated the periodical to Geneva. Here Abdul ‎Rahman came into contact with the editorial staff of the A.R.F. organ, Droshak. He ‎published his illustrious article “Kurtlere Khitap” which was mentioned earlier. The ‎newspaper offices then moved to London. But in 1908, with the Young Turks in power, ‎the periodical and its editor were repatriated to Istanbul. After a while, Sureya Bedir ‎Khan became the editor of the periodical. After the war, she relocated to Cairo where ‎she published it under the name “Kurdistan”. The newspaper was by then accepted as ‎the organ of the Kurdish National Movement and it served the cause up to the days of the ‎Ararat Rebellion (1929-1931).‎ From the beginning, the Kurdish nationalists took their stand beside the Young ‎Turks. They argued that with Turkish “revolutionaries” in power the demands of Kurdish ‎nationalists would be seriously taken into consideration. Grasping the opportunity that the ‎‎1908 constitutional movement provided, some prominent Kurdish nationalists such as Ali ‎Bedir Khan Bey, General Sharif Pasha, and Sheik Abdul Kadir (son of the new ‎Ottoman Parliament’s president, Sheik Obeidullah, organized the Taali Ve Terakki ‎Kurdistan (Recovery And Progress Of Kurdistan) group. Soon after they started ‎publishing the Kurt Teavun Ve Terakki Gazetesi (Gazette of Kurdish Mutual Aid And ‎Progress) journal in Turkish. The periodical became the organ of the newly founded ‎organization. It was also recognized as the first legal Kurdish newspaper in Turkey. ‎Moreover, it enjoyed ample popularity within the Kurdish community of Istanbul. (39)‎ According to Kendal, the Kurdish Cultural and Education Organization, Kurt Neshri ‎Maarif Jemiyeti (Kurdish Committee For The Advancement of Learning) was formed ‎as a subsidiary of the Taali Ve Terakki Kurdistan. This institution undertook the difficult ‎task of establishing, and also operating, the first Kurdish school in Istanbul, located in the ‎Tchemberli quarter.‎ Contrary to the fact that the Taali Ve Terakki Kurdistan did not possess any clear ‎political program, ideology, or a distinguished organizational machine, it was able to ‎unite Kurdish intellectuals and nationalists under its banner. With its cultural and ‎educational achievements, the organization spread the torch of education social ‎understanding in the various parts of Kurdistan and among its numerous clans. However, ‎the corruption of its leadership quickened the disintegration of the organization. Sheik ‎Abdul Kadir left and established his own liberal gazette, the Hetawe Kurd (the Kurdish ‎Sun), which became a new nexus of Kurdish nationalist and intellectual agitation. (40)‎ Kendal writes in this regard that: ‎

‎“…While Kurdish activities marked time [sick] in Istanbul, Kurdistan itself was ‎beginning to awaken to modern political life. Young militants and intellectuals set up ‎Kurdish clubs (Kurt Kulupleri) in the main urban centers, notably Bitlis, Diarbekir, ‎Mush, Erzerum, and Musul. The Mush club, for example, had established contact with ‎the main tribes of the vilayet. When it opened at the end of 1908, the Bitlis club had ‎seven hundred names on its roster. The clubs were organized on semi-military lines ‎derived from the young Turks, who had drown on the model of the Italian Carbonari. ‎These clubs indubitably signaled the start of an organized political struggle in Kurdistan ‎and clearly constituted a first attempt at setting a modern political organization.” (41)‎

After defeating Abdul Hamid, new policies were formulated within the Young ‎Turk leadership. Some felt that they could now continue without the help or cooperation ‎of the non-Turkish nationalist and intellectual elements. As a result, of this restrictive ‎policy, existing non-Turk schools and organizations were closed, and publications were ‎banned. These measures were decisive blows to the dreams of Armenians, Kurds, and ‎other minorities. As a direct consequence of these policies, many Kurdish intellectuals ‎and nationalists preferred exile to escape imprisonment. Most of the newly established ‎Kurdish organizations vanished. Only a handful continued to work underground and ‎prepare for the future. ‎ Meanwhile, even with the Young Turks in power, Kurdistan was not a peaceful ‎place. Rebellions resurfaced as early as 1909. The two new centers of agitation were ‎Dersim and Musul, where Sheik Mahmud Barzandji demanded an unconditional ‎withdrawal of all Ottoman forces. The Young Turk government not only did not pull its ‎armies back from Musul, but even reinforced them with new regiments, declared war on ‎Barzandji, destroyed his movement as well as many Kurdish towns and villages that had ‎joined the rebellion. ‎ Another minor rebellion was staged at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. This ‎rebellion started in Bitlis under the leadership of Mulla Selim. He incited the Kurdish ‎population of the city against the Turkish vali (governor) and his forces. In two days the ‎rebels captured the whole city. However, they had to retreat against the arriving Turkish ‎regiments, which reoccupied Bitlis and persecuted the perpetrators of the rebellion. As ‎for the rebel leader, Mulla Salim, he sought refuge in the Russian consulate of the city. ‎‎(42)‎ After 1909, Kurdish nationalists themselves embarked on seeking relations with ‎Armenians and Arabs. It is necessary to underline here that the Ittihadist government was ‎encountering an Arab uprising at the southernmost corner of the Arabian Peninsula. ‎Sheik Yahia Said was the leader of this Arab rebellion in the Yemen. He compelled the ‎Young Turk government to change its policies of aggressions against the Kurds to focus ‎its attention on this Arab threat. In 1912, permission was granted to the Kiviya Kurd ‎‎(Kurdish Hope)--organized secretly in 1910-- to operate legally. Hassan Motki, who was ‎a member of the Ottoman Parliament, led this organization. It operated for two years with ‎a dynamic program. However, it too dissolved in the beginning of the First World War. ‎Speaking about this “dynamic” period in the Kurdish national movement, Sasuni quotes ‎that: ‎

‎“The Kurdish intellectuals had finally found the missing cultural, educational and ‎political keys, without which Kurdish unity was an impossibility. Unfortunately, Kurdish ‎intellectuals assumed governmental and private sector careers. Some became ‎representatives in the Ottoman Parliaments. Others became senators in the upper house of ‎parliament. Still others became governmental officials, and military leaders. They, ‎however, enjoyed the benefits of these careers personally. Kurds remained without a ‎united literature, or a united alphabet. Kurdistan was still deprived of education. The few ‎neophyte movements in this regard in Istanbul did no produce any echoes in the distant ‎and isolated parts of Kurdistan. The nationalistic movement was gradually dithered and ‎the Kurdish masses continued their conservative way of life. (43)‎

Kurdish intellectuals were not totally responsible for the failure of this fledging ‎Kurdish awakening. These were dangerous times that preceded the First World War. ‎During this global conflict many such movements were incapacitated. The Kurdish loss ‎was twofold. Some Kurdish territories became the battlefields of long and exhausting ‎campaigns between the Turkish and the Entente armies. Eventually, it was impossible to ‎bring any sort of organization--let alone nationalistic motivation-- into such war-torn ‎territories. On the other hand, Kurdish intellectuals living in Istanbul were silenced, as ‎were intellectuals of other minorities. They were unable to speak out to aid their brothers ‎in the homeland. It has been reported, however, that some Kurdish intellectuals had secret ‎ties with their kin in the interior. These ties were the reason behind some major Kurdish ‎revolts during and after the war. ‎ During the first global war, Kurds retained their negative attitudes towards ‎Armenians. Under the constitutional government, Armenian-Kurdish relations – except ‎those on the intellectual level—were almost non-existing. The Young Turks preferred to ‎deal with Armenian and Kurdish nationalists separately. By this token (of liberalism), the ‎A.R.F. became a legal, constitutional party thus attaining its seats in the newly establish ‎Ottoman Parliament, beside those of the Kurds and other minorities. No one suspected ‎that this liberal and to some extent “revolutionary” administration could after only a few ‎years organize the first genocide of the century.‎ Desisting all relations with the Kurds caused Armenians a great deal of suffering. ‎Kurds became the real tools of extermination during the Armenian massacres. History ‎revealed once again that Kurdish tribal hordes could still be employed to butcher ‎innocent Armenians during their march into the Syrian desert.‎

B. The First World War Period.‎

Directed by the powerful German Empire, and with dreams of reinstituting ‎Ottoman Might and integrity, the Young Turk triumvirate (Enver, Talaat, Jemal, who ‎had consolidated power in 1912) pushed Turkey into the war. The primary objective was ‎the creation of the Turan, the united empire of all Trukic tribes and peoples. As a new ‎ideology Zia Gokalp, Ahmed Akchura and other ultra nationalist, racist Turkish ‎intellectuals, who had praised the idea of Tuan incessantly in their literature, formulated ‎Pan-Turkism. (44)‎ Under the cove of the war, the Ittihadist Turkish government undertook the ‎realization of the covert goals of Pan-Turkism. It organized and executed the ‎extermination of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, simply because they were a ‎geographical, historical, and physical hurdle against the creation of Turan. The whole ‎genocidal scenario was prepared in advance. The result was the punishment of some one ‎and one half million Armenians. Moreover, the Eastern, i.e. Armenians, vilayets of the ‎empire was emptied from their original inhabitants. All this was accomplished just to ‎remove the “obstacle’ that separated the Turks of the Ottoman Empire from their ethnic ‎brethren in Azarbaijian and Central Asia. Ironically, Kurdish sources observe that some ‎seven hundred thousands Kurds perished during this same period. (45) This Kurdish ‎death toll is somewhat questionable. The Young Turk government of the day instructed ‎the feeble Sultan Rashid to order the people that the extermination Armenians was ‎tantamount to a Jihad, a holy war, against infidel Christians. This was done to secure the ‎cooperation of non-Turkic, Muslim elements of the empire such as the Kurds. It follows ‎that the Kurds assumed an active role in the obliteration of the Armenians by themselves ‎becoming the executioners (and not the “victims” as Kendal or other Kurdish historians ‎desperately try to argue. Therefore, it is plausible to say that Kurdish casualties of war ‎‎(obviously much lesser than the number given above) occurred because of civilian deaths ‎during the battles which took place in Kurdistan, and also among the ranks of the Kurdish ‎soldiers serving in the Ottoman armies on the various battlefronts.‎ It is unimaginable how wars effect people and their fates. Sasuni mentions that: ‎

‎“… Because of the war, huge Turkish armies were garrisoned in Armenia. The ‎nationalist movement came to a halt, and all forms of civil life changed. All were ‎frightened. And everyone tried to escape with his head. Armenians and Kurdish national ‎volition was crushed. All forms of Armenian-Kurdish relations were uprooted. Military ‎operations became frequent, and Turks seemed to know how to operate in an organized ‎fashion. On the other hand, Armenians were left to their fate. They were subjugated and ‎dealt with according to the military rule which gave unlimited power to the leaders of the ‎Turkish armies.” (46)‎

Armenians and Kurds had to enlist into the Ottoman army. The draft law stated ‎that all competent males between the ages of eighteen and forty must enlist as regular ‎soldiers. Many Kurds circumvented the problem by paying the badali askariye (military ‎exemption fee). On the other hand, poor Armenian peasants had to forcibly join the army ‎because of lack of funds. They were enlisted and sent to a certain death if not on the ‎battlefronts (where they were stationed on the advanced battle lines) then in the numerous ‎labor camps, which were an important element in the process of the obliteration of the ‎Armenian labor battalions. (47) Even in the few locals were Armenians organized self ‎defense battles, Kurds helped the government by weakening Armenian defenses through ‎their continuous raids. Such were the cases Sasun, Van, Shadakh Khnus, Taron, and ‎Bitlis. Only Van was spared total annihilation because it was able to defend itself until ‎the arrival of the advancing Russian armies and the Armenian Volunteer Regiments ‎‎(Faykakan Kamavorakan Gunder). But on the whole, Kurds massacred Armenians ‎with their own hands in Sasun, Daron, Bitlis, and the remote environs of Van. (48) ‎ It must be stated, however, that in some areas of Southern Kurdistan, and ‎especially in Dersim, Kurds not only did not participate in the war efforts or the ‎Armenian massacres, but also even confronted Turks as their enemies. (49) On the other ‎hand, some Northern Kurdish tribes came into contact with the advancing Russian armies ‎and fought alongside against the Turkish armies headed by Enver Pasha, minister of war ‎of the Ittihad government.‎ Russia, for its part, gave rosy promises to Kurdish tribes that helped her during ‎the war. By securing the cooperation of Armenians and Northern Kurdish tribes, Russia ‎aimed at annexing Armenia and Kurdistan as part of its colonizing policies. Russia’s ‎European allies had similar aims for different areas of the Ottoman Empire. This ‎imperialist mood was apparent in the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 between France, ‎Great Britain, and Russia. According to this treaty, the three powers divided the ‎Caucasus and the Middle East between themselves (Russia later abandoned the treaty ‎when the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917. Lenin even uncovered all the secret ‎negotiations pertaining to the agreement and its content).‎ The rapid advance of the Russian armies did protect Armenian lives in Van and ‎some other areas of Western Armenia. Soon Armenian refugee relocation tasks were ‎underway with the purpose of saving the lives of those who were hiding in the mountains ‎and valleys. In the Southern territories, some Armenian families had found refuge near ‎the Kurdish tribes that had not participated in the war or the Armenian massacres. Some ‎Kurds had even helped and gave shelter to Armenian families in Sasun. In Dersim ‎frightened Armenians lived with the Kurdish tribes and clans of the remote mountains. ‎Here, old Kurdish customs still prevailed. Kurds did not want to break their centuries old ‎neighborly ties with Armenians. They helped their Armenian brethren in their times of ‎utmost need.‎ Most useful in helping Armenians were the Kurdish tribes of Northern Syria. ‎They protected those Armenians who escaped the death marches in the North Syrian ‎desert. As an eyewitness to these events Sasuni cities: ‎

‎“I personally was interested in this matter (the Kurdish tribes of Northern Syria ‎helping the Armenians). I was able to confirm that during 1915-1917 many Kurdish tribal ‎leaders were questioned and even tortured by Ottoman authorities, because they had ‎given refuge to Armenians by keeping them in their tribes, under the disguise of Kurdish ‎clothing, so as not to arouse any suspicions”. (50)‎

It is also to be noted that during the first four months of 1915-- the most active ‎months of the Armenian massacres--Kurdish rayas (serfs) were the greatest tool in the ‎ensuing Armenian Mayhem. The government fully utilized the poor and greedy Kurdish ‎peasants to kill and loot Armenians during the death marches.‎ What was the result of all this? In 1916, Kurds finally realized that they had ‎actually become the tools of the Ittihad policies. Obviously Armenia was uprooted and ‎soon they, the Kurds, would face a similar fate. It was already too late. But even in those ‎difficult days of self-realization, unity did not find fertile basis among the Kurdish tribes. ‎Kurds remained divided, and they were transformed to a minority even in their own ‎homeland. After 1915, the Ittihad government had no reason to fear Armenian-Kurdish ‎collaboration. Everything seemed to be ready for the second phase of the Pan-Turkic ‎plan--to bury the Kurdish issue of autonomy. ‎ The Turkish government first made sure that Kurds would never remain a ‎majority on their lands. Massive immigration of Kurds to the remote parts of Anatolia ‎was organized. In the Eastern vilayets, Kurds statistically were reduced to about five ‎percent of the total population. Not content with these measures, the government herded ‎Kurdish leaders and active youth into exile to the Western districts of the empire. Kurdish ‎‎“nationalists” were thus deprived of their popular basis. According to Sasuni, the exile ‎law had a secret article according to which: ‎

‎“All Turkish civil and military authorities must see to it that the exiled Kurds ‎encounter the UTMOST DIFFICULTY [G.M.] en-route, in other word, it was ‎suggested that the exiled should, if possible, be massacred like the Armenians before ‎them.” (51)‎

Although firm on its decision, the Turkish government did no seek the total ‎obliteration of the Kurds. It wanted to relocate them to other areas and to start the process ‎of their Turkification. Even with such Turkish policies in action, Kurds dwelling in the ‎Russian occupied territories of the empire kept on helping the defeated Turkish ‎government. When the Russian armies retreated in 1917, Armenians in Van and its ‎vicinity had to retreat with them to the Caucasus. Kurds now joined forces with the ‎incoming Turkish army. Sasuni states that on the Pergri Bridge alone Kurds massacred ‎about four thousand Armenians and threw their bodies into the river. A.R.F. leaders tried ‎to negotiate with the Kurds even before the Russian retreat, when there was no actual ‎sign of such a withdrawal. The purpose of this approach was to make Kurds understand ‎that Armenians were willing to forget the past for the sake of cooperation and mutual ‎understanding. Sasuni, who was a participant in the events and also a member of the ‎negotiating team, writes: ‎

‎“I myself conducted part of these negotiations. I invented forty Kurdish leaders in ‎January of 1918 to speak to them about restoring relations. This could be considered the ‎first Armenian-Kurdish convention of this time…. Some of the leaders promised to be ‎friendly, but the majority obviously showed the enmity and hatred that was hidden deep ‎in their hearts….In February, when the advancing Turkish troops reached Van, those ‎same Kurdish leaders joined them and persecuted fleeing Armenians and even massacred ‎many of them. (51)‎

C. Defeat and Victory: The Treaties of Sevres And Lausanne

The Ottoman Empire surrendered in October of 1918, by singing the Mudros ‎Armistice. This not only saved Turkey from being totally conquered by the Entente, but ‎it even created a chance of coming out of the war with only partial losses and an ‎obligation to sign a peace treaty that would in the long run conserve the integrity of the ‎new Turkish State. The Pan-Turkic dreams of the Ittihadists were about to cost the total ‎loss of the empire. The British fleet was stationed in the Bosphorus. English, French, ‎Italian, and Greek troops occupied big chunks of Turkish territory. The huge Ottoman ‎Empire was drastically reduced. Only Anatolia and the southern shores of the Black Sea ‎remained under its control. ‎ The period between October of 1918 and June of 1919 was therefore an ‎unprecedented opportunity for Kurds to establish their national homeland. It might be ‎argued with some certainly that this opportunity could have been extended even to 1921, ‎since during those three critical years Turkey was experiencing a potentially volatile ‎political vacuum. The whole country was in a total state of anarchy and chaos. The ‎Ittihadist government had fled; the Sultan’s rule did no go beyond the boundaries of the ‎capital, Istanbul; the remnants of what used to be the Ottoman army were disintegrating; ‎the commanders and officers were fleeing to save their own lives. On the other hand, ‎Russia was encountering severe internal problems. Those were exacerbated by the ‎Bolshevik takeover of the government in October of 1917. The new rulers of Russia cut ‎off its ties with the Entente powers; signed the shameful surrender treaty of Brest ‎Litovsk with Germany; called their armies home. Russia was now a secluded state trying ‎to cope with the tyranny of the new Communist regime. The revolutionary government, ‎under the leadership of Lenin, abandoned all previous Tsarist policies. This also meant ‎that for the time being communist Russia was not interested in the colonizing policies of ‎its predecessor of which Kurdistan was an essential part, in accord with the Sykes-Picot ‎agreement of 1916.‎ The Persian army too was in a state of disintegration. It so happened that all three ‎powers, Turkey, Russia, and Iran were engulfed in internal problems and strife. Europe ‎was unable to interfere. The Kurds could have simply grasped the opportunity to declare ‎the independence of their national homeland. ‎ In May 1918, the three Caucasian states of Georgia, Azarbaijian, and Armenia ‎declared their independence. These states almost immediately enjoyed the recognition of ‎Europe and the United States as well as their economic aid. Europe had to show a ‎positive image to those new republics, because they were to assume the role of natural ‎barriers against Communist Russia. All Kurds had to do was to follow in the footsteps of ‎the Armenians and to declare their sovereignty. Even if European powers like France or ‎England were opposed to such a declaration (rather unlikely at the time), they were ‎unable to stop it from happening. In fact, their withdrawal from Aintab and Urfa (both in ‎Cilicia) proves this. (53) It must be noted here that France and Britain were at odds in ‎their Caucasian and Middle Eastern policies. England was trying desperately to reach the ‎oil fields of Musul – scientific research proved to the British that those fields were rich in ‎crude oil. England had kept this a secret from France. It was for this reason that the ‎British seemed ready to negotiate with the Kurds for the establishment of a free and ‎independent Kurdistan. France also approached the Kurds in this direction. What France ‎wanted was a Kurdistan under French mandate. So all that Kurdish leaders had to do was ‎to negotiate with the English and the French simultaneously and to make them agree to ‎the idea of an independent Kurdish state.‎ However, what Kurds were lacking was their own collective force. There were no ‎Armenians in eastern Anatolia to help this Kurdish move. Moreover, the fledgling ‎Armenian Republic could in no way help the Kurdish cause of independence.‎ As in the past, there was no hope of the formation of a United Kurdish front, let alone an ‎independent Kurdish state. It was really embarrassing to be unable of grasping such a ‎historic opportunity. The question implies itself. Why didn’t the Kurds unite even when ‎confronted with such an opportunity? In 1919, the hero of modern Turkey, Mustafa ‎Kemal, then an officer in the Turkish army in Istanbul, was sent on a mission to the ‎Eastern vilayets. Arriving in Sivas, Kemal severed all ties with the central government in ‎Istanbul and originated a new movement to reorganize Turkey as a modern republic. He ‎was able to gather an army of thirty five thousand men (mostly Kurds). Kurdish ‎chieftains could have easily destroyed Kemal and his forces. Some gave serious thought ‎to crushing the new Kemalist army. However, once again Kurdish leaders were the ‎‎“victims” of British diplomacy, which wanted to use Kemal as a bargaining chip in its ‎negotiations with the central Turkish government.‎ Sasuni writes that in August 1919, prominent Kurdish leaders conducted a ‎meeting in Malatia. Speaking about this meeting, he quotes a paragraph from a Kurdish ‎publication that appeared in the United States under the title “The Case of Kurdistan ‎Against Turkey” (published by the Kurdish National Organization) which states:‎

‎ “During this time, concern and fear led Kurdish leaders to conduct a meeting in ‎Kahta, near Malatia. The participants decided to join forces and confront the new ‎Turkish Nationalist Movement of Mustafa Kemal. But Col. Bill (surname unknown) of ‎the British Intelligence Bureau of Aleppo appeared at the meeting, and in the name of ‎his government asked the chieftains to keep their silence, and, most importantly, not to ‎organize any military campaign against Kemal and his forces. The Colonel also assured ‎the Kurdish leaders that the Kurdish Question was to be solved in a just way by the ‎Allied Power”. (54)‎

It seems that England once more stood as the protector of Turkish integrity. By so ‎doing it extinguished any new hopes of Kurdish independence. But, most of all, England ‎allowed Kemal’s movement to flourish and gain more firm ground. This proved to be a ‎disaster not only for Kurds but also for Armenians. In the long run, Kemal’s momentum ‎hurt even Britain’s policies in the Levant. The new Turkey immerging under the ‎leadership of Kemal regarded Britain as an enemy and didn’t act in a manner which was ‎agreeable or pleasing to England. ‎ Yet one is compelled to think of the reasons behind this pro-Kemal British tactic. ‎The question that asserts itself here is why did the Kurdish leaders who were gathered in ‎Malatia accept the English terms so quickly. According to Kurdish intellectuals, Kurdish ‎leaders were certain that their country’s independence was dependent on English and ‎French approval. In other words, almost all of the Middle Eastern states that immerged ‎during this time or shortly afterwards were either British or French protectorates or ‎mandates. Kurds knew that if they were to have their independence, then most probably ‎they were to have that under an English mandate. For this reason they were obliged to ‎accept all English demands even if they were opposed to it. Yet what Kurds did not know ‎was the bitter fact that neither England nor France was interested in having a mandate ‎over Kurdistan. Moreover, they were absolutely against antagonizing Kemal for such a ‎venture. France was the first to act and to sign a treaty of friendship and economic ‎exchange and even cooperation with Kemal in as early as 1920, (the Ankara ‎Agreement). Moreover, Most of the participants in the Malatia Convention were not ‎nationalists or radical intellectuals, but rather conservative and religious sheiks. They ‎were always influenced by the British policies, which was brought to them by British ‎consuls. ‎ The most powerful organization in Kurdish society was the Kurd Istiqlal ‎Jemiyetti (Committee of Kurdish Independence). It had assumed direct talks with ‎Kemal. Some of its members even advocated the nationalistic cause of the Turkish hero. ‎Anyway, this organization became the victim of Kemal’s Milli Movement. Late in 1921, ‎one hundred and ten of its radical members (who detested the close ties with the Kemalist ‎Movement) were sentenced to death. They were either hanged or put in front of firing ‎squads. The failure of the Khata meeting and the accumulating mistakes of the Kurdish ‎leadership gave Kemal the opportunity to strengthen his posture. Once he accomplished ‎this, he moved to the offensive. He fought the Kurdish nationalist elements furiously. ‎Kemal saw in them the capacity of becoming a real threat to the new Turkish republic ‎that he was trying to establish.‎ Meanwhile, preparations for the Peace Conference were underway early in 1919. ‎Before speaking about the Paris Peace Conference, it is important to give a brief ‎description about the relations and the negotiations that occurred between the two ‎Armenian Delegations and the Kurdish Commission in Paris in the months that ‎preceded the Peace Conference. These negotiations lasted until August 10, 1920, the date ‎on which the Treaty of Serves was signed.‎ For a period of almost a year between 1919 and 1920, Armenian and Kurdish ‎delegates continued their political and diplomatic “skirmishes” in Paris over disputed ‎borders and overlapping territories. During this same time, in Anatolia, Kemal continued ‎to grow stronger and to constitute the basis of his new Republic. In the early stages, no ‎one thought seriously about Kemal or his feeble movement. This gave the Turkish ‎nationalist a free hand. By the time the Peace Treaty was ready to be signed, Kemal came ‎forth as a capable and to some extent strong leader, which wanted to definitely be ‎counted as a player in the game. European powers now had to face this new reality ‎imposed by Kemal. They were negotiating with the delegates of a defeated Ottoman ‎Empire, whereas real power in Turkey was in the hands of the young and energetic ‎Mustafa Kemal.‎ The Kurdish Delegation in Paris was headed by Sherif Pasha who, according to ‎Sasuni, “still kept the character of an Ottoman official and even acted in accordance to ‎that psychology.” He was always confused and unable to reach an agreement. He could ‎not argue effectively. Sherif Pasha did no have a clear picture of the geographic ‎boundaries of an independent Kurdistan. He was unable to define its borders or the ‎territories that he wanted to be included within the envisioned Kurdish state.‎ The long and tedious negotiations finally resulted in an agreement between the Armenian ‎and the Kurdish delegations. The central theme of this agreement was that the two people ‎wanted to be free from oppressive Turkish rule. The problem of the disputed territories ‎and borders were not solved. They were sent back to the Peace Conference to be decided ‎over. ‎ In an official letter addressed to the Peace Conference and signed by the two ‎delegations, Armenians and Kurds asked for the establishment of independent Armenian ‎and Kurdish states, leaving the problem of disputed territories in Vaspurakan and ‎elsewhere to the discretion of the Peace Conference. (56)‎ The Armenian-Kurdish negotiations and the matter of the disputed territories met ‎the protests of Armenians everywhere. Some though that too many concessions were ‎being made in order to reach a compromise with the Kurds. The first such protestor was ‎the Armenian Ambassador to Washington D.C., Armen Karo (Karekin Pastermajian). ‎Armenians had two delegations in Paris; Avetis Aharonian, the representative of the ‎Republic of Armenia, headed one, Boghos Nubar Pasha headed the second. It ‎represented Western and Cilician Armenians (it was this delegation that demanded an ‎Armenia “from sea unto sea” with Cilician territories included within the future ‎Armenian republic (this in turn unleashed a sarcastic campaign in the European and ‎especially the French media about an “Armenian Empire”). The “concessions” issue ‎became the subject of hot debates in the Armenian diasporan media itself. This compelled ‎the two Armenian delegations to publish a joint communiqué in order to clarify the issue ‎and prove that the agreement in no way jeopardized Armenian demands. (57)‎ Sherif Pasha did not remain as the head of the Kurdish delegation until the end of ‎the Peace Conference. He declared that he opposed the Armenian-Kurdish agreement that ‎he himself had signed. After his departure from Paris, Kurds continued their lobbying but ‎had a very limited and unorganized presence in the diplomatic circles of the Peace ‎Conference.‎ On August 10, 1920, a Peace Treaty was singed in Severs. The representative of ‎Kemal, the real power in Anatolia, was not present. The delegate of the feeble sultan who ‎had no real power in the Anatolian interior presented Turkey. As a matter of fact, his rule ‎encompassed only the capital Istanbul, and some of its suburbs. During the Conference ‎Woodrow Wilson, the president of the United States of America, put his famous sixteen ‎points concerning the right of people to decide their futures and freedom on the ‎discussion table. President Wilson himself drew the borders of the free and independent ‎Republic of Armenia. As for the question of Kurdish independence, articles 62, 63, and ‎‎64 of the treaty addressed that issue. (58)‎ Article 62 stated that a committee formed from the representatives of the three ‎Entente powers France, England, and Italy, was to reside in Istanbul and was in a matter ‎of six months prepare a program of autonomy in the regions inhabited by the Kurds. This ‎offered a partial solution to the question of Kurdish independence. Kurds were outraged. ‎According to them, the newly established Armenian Republic had acquired territories that ‎were considered theirs. Kendal argues that president Wilson annexed to Armenia lands ‎that were inhabited by Kurds in Mush, Erzinjan, Bingeol, Bitlis, Van, Gharakilise, ‎Iktir, and Erzerum. (59) This is a topic of hot debate. It is clear that by 1920, and mostly ‎due to the Armenian massacres during the war, those Armenian territories were emptied ‎from their original Armenian inhabitants. Was it really possible to translate the ownership ‎of such disputed territories by the mere fact that after the massacres and the deportation ‎of Armenians Kurds had become a majority in those areas? Nevertheless, even this ‎Kurdish majority was questionable at the time, since with the blessings of the new ‎Kemalist government massive numbers of Turkish immigrants from the Balkans and the ‎Caucasus were being dumped into those areas. However, for the record it must be stated ‎that culturally, ethnically, and historically these disputed lands represented the ancient ‎homeland of the Armenian nation who lived there as an undisputed majority for over two ‎millennia enduring Turkish, Kurdish, Cherkez, and other immigrations organized by the ‎various Ottoman sultans.‎ Nevertheless, the Treaty of Severe was destined to fail even before its ink was ‎dried. Kemal was to grow and eventually give a decisive blow to the Allied Powers and ‎their friends, the Greek, who was entrusted with the execution of the ill-fated treaty.‎ Kemal gathered his forces and first blockaded the Greek advance. Himself moving to the ‎offensive he defeated the outnumbering Greek armies near Izmir and literally threw them ‎into the Black Sea under the very eyes of the British fleet, which stood silently during the ‎whole unfolding “drama.” Kemal literally burned the seaport city of Izmir. Thousands of ‎civilians (including many Armenians who had returned home encouraged by the Allied ‎Powers) were either burned or put at the mercy of the sea.‎ By new Kemal’s position was that of a strong man. He was now ready to ‎negotiate with Europe according to his own terms. The Treaty of Severe was to be nulled. ‎Another was singed at Laussane in 1923. Armenian and Kurdish independence was ‎totally jeopardized, since Kemal insisted that Turkish sovereignty must be reinstated over ‎all of Anatolia. The Entente powers had to agree in order to gain Kemal as an ally rather ‎then an enemy who was certain to fall into the lap of Communist Russia. Kemal was ‎promised help from Moscow too. His position was a favorable one. He had all the cards ‎in his hands and he played expertly. By so doing he constituted the cornerstone of a new ‎phase of relations with Europe. ‎ After 1921, the A.R.F. leaders tried once more to establish relations with the ‎Kurds, since now Armenians and Kurds represented the only two people who still had ‎demands from republican Turkey. In 1924, an agreement was reached with the Kurdish ‎National Committee. Soon after, in 1925, a new Kurdish rebellion burst out on Dersim ‎under the leadership of Sheik Said Ali. The Sheik gathered the Kurdish nationalists ‎under his flag and raised arms against the Turkish oppressor, which this time was ‎represented by the new Kemalist Republic. ‎


‎“My natural life is finished. I do not regret that I am dying for my country and nation. I ‎would be satisfied if our grand-children do not shame us in front of our enemies.”‎

Sheik Said Ali of Piran

After defeating the implementation of the Sevres treaty, Kemal approached ‎communist Russia for economic and military aid. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 ‎gave the impetus necessary for the creation of a pseudo Turkish Communist Party. Kemal ‎tolerated the formation of such a political entity to secure Soviet friendship and, most ‎importantly, aid. Later, however, in an effort to rectify his position with Europe—that is, ‎to appease its powers--Kemal dissolved that party in 1925, of course after physically ‎eliminating its leaders first. ‎ The initial Kemalist tilt towards Communist Russia alarmed Europe. Its most ‎affected powers, i.e. France, Britain were worried that such a tilt would definitely ‎endanger their new Middle Eastern possessions. Moreover, a Turkey friendly to Russia ‎would extend communism’s frontiers to the detriment of Europe and its spheres of ‎influence.‎ France was the first to sign a treaty of friendship with the Kemalist government. ‎This happened in early October 1921, when Kemal’s forces had not yet extended their ‎rule over all of modern day Turkey. Moreover, Greek forces were still active in Anatolia. ‎In fact, to most Turkish nationalist leaders, the very existance of such massive Greek ‎forces did endanger the very existence of their fledgling nationalist movement. It is in ‎this context that France’s erratic behavior must be understood and properly analyzed— ‎most probably a case of “cold feet.” With such French encouragement—as the signing of ‎a treaty of peace and friendship with Turkey could have entailed-- Kemalist forces were ‎able to halt the advance of the Greek armies who had already conquered Izmir and were ‎moving inward, toward central Anatolia.‎ This Turkish victory was achieved through substantial Kurdish aid to Kemal’s ‎army. Thousands of Kurdish tribal warriors and previous Hamidiye regiment soldiers ‎joined Kemal’s army. The Turkish leader was thus not only able to confront the Greek ‎armies but even to stage a strong counter-offensive which swept the advancing Greek ‎army back to Izmir and literally into the Black Sea, together with the Greek and ‎Armenian population of the city, under the very eyes of the British fleet which watched ‎the tragedy unfold (according to some reports Her Majesty’s sailors, following orders ‎from their officers, even went as far as pouring boiling water on those seeking refuge on ‎board British ships.‎ What was the reason or reasons behind this massive Kurdish aid to Kemal. After ‎all, it was only months before that’s Kurdish chieftains who had met in Malatia had ‎agreed to get rid of him. There is nothing surprising in such Kurdish attitude. By now, ‎Kemal had become a seasoned politician. So, in order not to alienate the Kurdish ‎chieftains, Kemal never used the term “Turkish Republic” when addressing them or the ‎Kurdish population at large. Instead, he started his movement in the heart of Kurdistan, ‎where he promised Kurds a country where Turks and Kurds would live mutually, and ‎harmoniously like brothers and equals in every aspect. Kemal’s promises were negotiated ‎and hammered down during several. meetings and conventions. ‎ The first such convention was held in Erzerum. It is also known as the Congress ‎of the Eastern Vilayets. Rumors had it that the Paris Peace Conference had already ‎annexed the vilayets of Erzerum, Kars, Bitlis, Erzinjan, Mush and Van to the Armenian ‎republic, whose borders were to be drawn by the president of the United States of ‎America, Woodrow Wilson. Fifty-four prominent Kurdish chieftains and leaders from ‎these territories came to Erzerum to meet Kemal and to join forces to struggle against the ‎annexation of Kurdish territories to neighboring Armenia. Kendal, who had previously ‎erred by claiming that those vilayets were “historically Kurdish territories,” and that ‎‎“Armenians had no legitimate claims over them,” contradicts himself by stating that: ‎

‎“The Kurdish notable [who did participate in the Erzerum Convention of 1919, ‎G.M.] had their own reasons for resisting such an outcome [annexation, G.M.]. When ‎Armenians were deported during the war, Kurdish notables had sized their goods (lands). ‎Serving under Armenian domination would have meant dispossession as well as ‎persecution [by] and servitude to a Christian regime.” (60)‎

The Erzerum Convention decided to act quickly, and to do all that is in its power ‎to prevent the annexation of the six eastern vilayets to the Armenian republic. The ‎Convention also decided that Kurds would help the Turkish army against any Armenian ‎expansion. Kazim Karabekir Pasha was sent to Kurdistan to recruit Kurdish soldiers ‎and to supervise their training. It was this mainly Kurdish army that advanced against the ‎Armenian Republic in 1922. This offensive lead to the singing of the peace treaty of ‎Gumri (Leninakan, during the Soviet era) which resulted in the Armenian loss of not ‎only the contested vilayets but also of the districts of Kars and Ardahan. The Armenian ‎Republic was thus squeezed into a small state, with an area of a bit over thirty thousand ‎square kilometers.‎ The question that asserts itself here is weather the Kurds, after all their endeavors, ‎were able to keep the eastern vilayets for themselves or their posterity? The answer to ‎this question is a definite no. After the Erzerum Congress, Kemal led his army from one ‎victory to another. He destroyed all possibilities of executing the Treaty of Severe. For ‎three years he waged a two front war against the Allies in eastern and western Asia ‎Minor. He made them realize that they had to deal with him as the new strong man in ‎Turkey. In 1923, a new treaty was signed at Lausanne. Here, Kemal’s free and ‎independent Republic of Turkey participated as an equal negotiator. European nations, ‎who only months before were engaged in a war of attrition against him, were now ‎desperate to gain his friendship and have his new Turkey on their side as an important ‎new ally, and, of course, a barrier, against Communist Russia.‎ In Lausanne, all dreams of Kurdish autonomy were shattered. The treaty made it ‎abundantly clear that hopes of establishing an “enlarged” Armenian Republic were futile. ‎Deserted by its European allies and even the United States (which completely reneged on ‎its previous promise of providing the feeble Caucasian state with a mandate and ‎protection because of its important strategic value as a country bordering Communist ‎Russia), Armenia now came under the duel fire of Turkey and Russia. Kemal’s Army had ‎already reached Kars and Ardahan. On the other front, the Russian Red Army, through ‎the help of local communist agitators and agents, defeated the abruptly organized ‎Armenian army; instituted Communist rule over the republic; and compelled the ‎leadership of the liberal, pro-Western ruling party, the A.R.F., to exile first to Iran, then ‎to the newly established Middle Eastern countries (some finally settled in Europe and the ‎United States). ‎ As for the Kurds, they were deprived of any political recognition. The Turkish ‎envoy to Lausanne silenced all talks about Kurdish autonomy. He stressed that “Kurds ‎and Turks are now equal partners in the government of Turkey,” and that “although ‎Turks and Kurds may speak different languages, these two people are not different from ‎the point of view of race, faith and custom.” (61) If anything, this statement indicates that ‎Kemalist Turkey viewed the assimilation and Turkification of the Kurds as a natural ‎process. The Treaty of Lausanne gave other minorities in Turkey--like Armenians, ‎Greeks, and Jews religious as well as some cultural “freedoms.” But Kurds, because of ‎being represented as “equal partners” to the Turkish majority, were not counted as a ‎minority. Thus, they were deprived from even the meager “freedoms” that other ‎minorities were to enjoy. After 1923, the Turkification of the Kurds accelerated with the ‎objective of literally melting them within the Turkish race.‎ In yet another blow to the Kurds, the Treaty of Lausanne divided Historical Kurdistan ‎between the newly established Middle Eastern states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. ‎This was an indirect consequence of the planning and the execution of the Sykes-Picot ‎agreement. England wanted the oil-rich fields of southern Kurdistan (Musul). It was ‎annexed by Iraq, a British mandate. The oil issue exacerbated relations between France ‎and England. Supposedly, oil was discovered after the Lausanne Treaty was signed. ‎However, France insisted that the British already knew about the oil reserves in the area ‎and preferred to say nothing about it during negotiations. Nevertheless, the two European ‎powers were able to reach a compromise. Accordingly, France received twenty five ‎percent of the oil revenue and also the districts of Jezireh and Kurd Dagi (Kurdish ‎Mountain) in southwestern Kurdistan, which it annexed to its Syrian protectorate.‎

A. Sheik Said Ali’s Rebellion in Dersim

In the Turkish parts of Kurdistan, and also in the eastern vilayets, Kemalist oppression ‎followed the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne. As an initial phase of assimilation, ‎Mustafa Kemal closed all Kurdish schools and deployed new methods Turkification in ‎areas inhabited by the Kurds. There was no doubt in Kemal’s mind that Turkey was to ‎become a homogeneous Turkish state. By this token its inhabitants were to be only Turks.‎ To add insult upon injury, unfair taxation, unjust judicial procedures, and bribe taking, ‎corrupted Turkish civil and military officials made life unbearable for Kurds. (62)‎ Late in 1922, Kurdish deputies in the Turkish parliament such as Yusuf Zia of ‎Bitlis and Colonel Halid Bey from Chebran founded the Kurt Istiqlal Jemiyeti ‎‎(Kurdish Association of Independence). The association organization branches in the ‎major towns and cities of Turkish Kurdistan. This underground organization had its sub-‎committees in Diarbekir, Bitlis, Urfa, Siirt, and Elazig (Kharput, Kharpert). Army ‎officers of Kurdish origins joined the association because they feared that the ‎Turkification policies imposed by Kemal aimed at cutting the Kurdish people from their ‎roots.‎ Kurdish nationalists and intellectuals joined the association as well. Surprisingly, ‎even some Kurdish religious figures such as Sheik Said Ali of Piran, Skeik Sherif of ‎Palu and Sheik Abdullah of Melkan contacted the leaders of the association and put ‎themselves under their command. (63) ‎ In March 1924, Kemal nulled the Khalifate by a governmental decree. Soon, ‎another decree followed. This time Kemal banned all Kurdish organizations, as well as ‎regular and religious schools. This action enlarged the existing gulf between him and the ‎Kurdish people. It also pushed the latter into rebellion. From the onset, the Kurdish ‎Association of Independence was making preparations for a general rebellion. (64) It had ‎established ties with most of the religious sheiks and tribal chieftains. Its leadership had ‎also created links with the Kurdish communities of Istanbul and Aleppo. In other words, ‎the period 1923-1924 was completely devoted to the accumulation of military and other ‎provisions in preparation for the general rebellion. ‎ Late in the summer of 1924, Yusuf Zia, the Kurdish deputy from Bitlis, went to ‎Istanbul with the objective of contacting the leaders of the anti-Kemalist party, the ‎Terraki Perver Chumburiyet Firkasi (Progressive Republican Party). It seems that Zia ‎was successful in his mission. Yet, after only few days of his return to Erzerum, rebellion ‎broke out in the northern districts of Bitlis. It follows that the Turkish government was ‎also closely monitoring the underground activities of Yusuf Zia. It had assigned a number ‎of agents and spies for this purpose. Taking advantage of the opportunity that this ‎Kurdish insurrection provided, Turkish troops besieged Zia’s home; put him under ‎custody; demanded the arrest of his brother--who was accused of being one of the ‎primary agitators of the rebellion. Hundred of Kurdish rebels and Independence ‎Association members were also imprisoned. They were brought to trial before a special ‎military court in Bitlis in October 1924. They were charged with treason and were ‎sentenced to death.‎ It was at this juncture of the rebellion that Sheik Said Ali of Piran assumed the ‎leadership of the Kurdish Rebellion. Knowing well that most of the captured Kurdish ‎leaders and rebels were to be summarily murdered, he contacted the Kurdish tribes of ‎Kharput, Diarbekir, Gendj and Darhini and persuaded them to raise arms against ‎Mustafa Kemal and his government. Sheik Said also established ties with some Armenian ‎nationalists and through them with the A.R.F. According to sources Sheik Said even had ‎an A.R.F. representative, Vramian, in his camp. This Vramian became the liaison ‎between the Kurds and the A.R.F. He also oversaw the administration of Armenian aid to ‎the rebels. ‎ There is no doubt that this Armenian aid was symbolic. However, its significance ‎lies in the fact that it was perhaps the first step toward a more rigid Armenian-Kurdish ‎cooperation after almost decades of hostility and intolerance. This Armenian cooperation ‎could also be considered the beginning of a decade long (1924-1934) mutual ‎understanding and cooperation between Armenian and Kurdish nationalists, during which ‎the A.R.F. tried to help the Kurdish people in its struggles against the almost genocidal ‎procedures imposed on them by Kemalist Turkey. ‎ Kemal sent several Turkish regiments to the rebel Kurdish territories. Even with ‎the leaders of the Kurdish independence movement either murdered or imprisoned the ‎general Kurdish rebellion was underway. On February 5, 1925, Kurdish rebels took to the ‎offensive and seized Mush, Khnus, Varto and Arzni. (65) ‎ The Kurdish rebellion gained momentum day after day. Kurds from all over came ‎to join the rebel forces. This was happening in spite of draconian Turkish measures to ‎silence the rebellion. For example, in Kharput alone, four hundred Kurds were hanged ‎after being summarily sentenced by the established pseudo military court.‎ Kemal’s cunning character becomes apparent when one considers how he used ‎the Kurdish insurrection to rid himself of the Turkish communist movement and party ‎that he himself had instituted years ago as a puppet organization to attract Soviet aid. By ‎introducing the brutal and unjust court martial system, Kemal created a permanent ‎source of fear in the eastern vilayets and Kurdistan. ‎ On the international front, Kemal tried to convince the international community that the ‎Kurdish uprising was a reactionary movement that aimed at restoring the sultanate. He ‎worked hard to manipulate both the domestic and the international newspapers by ‎attributing fanatic, religious overtones to the nationalistic aspirations of Kurdish rebels. ‎‎(66) Moreover, Kemal went as for as to suggest that by restoring the Ottoman Sultanate ‎Kurds were aiming at destroying Kemal and his cause of modernization. ‎ Nevertheless, all of Kemal’s measures considered, according to the A.R.F. central ‎organ “Droshak” within only two months-- end of March 1925-- Kurdish rebel forces had ‎occupied almost all of the twelve districts constituting Turkish Kurdistan. (67)‎ Kemal and his government could not envisage such a Kurdish victory. A Turkish army of ‎eighty thousand men was deployed within the areas engulfed by the rebellion. Moreover, ‎with the permission of French authorities in Syria, the Northern Syrian railroad was ‎utilized to transport new Turkish infantry regiments to Kurdistan. Soon, these two ‎Turkish armies besieged the mountainous town of Diarbekir. They shelled it day and ‎night until it fell in April 1925. Most of the Kurdish rebels were either murdered or ‎captured. Others, however, still managed to escape and to seek refuge with the Kurdish ‎tribes of Iran and Iraq. ‎ After the Turkish seizure of Diarbekir, atrocities began to multiply in the Kurdish ‎territories. On September 4, 1925, the government hanged the rebel Sheik Said Ali and ‎fifty-two of his followers. Thousands of Kurds were massacred, and scores of towns and ‎villages were pillaged and reduced to ashes. Not content with these measures, the Turkish ‎government instituted yet a new court martial that after only short and staged trials ‎condemned hundreds of Kurdish rebels to death.‎ It took the Turkish army months, even years to cleanse the rebel areas and to cut ‎all supply and communication lines between the rebels. Turkish Kurdistan was put under ‎military rule. Deportation measures were reintroduced to uproot Kurdistan from its ‎original inhabitants. Kurds were relocated to eliminate all fears of future rebellions. ‎ Kurds had to fight for their existence. To do so they had only their rifles and their ‎mountains with which to continue the uneven battle. Sasuni writes that: - ‎

‎“Now Kurds had finally realized that the Turks were after them for good. They ‎were no more the victims of Turkish lies. The Kurdish National Revolution had acquired ‎a general character. Internal conflicts and personal enmities were all forgotten in the face ‎of Turkish danger. The notion of a united Kurdish national organization was spreading ‎quickly into every corner of Kurdistan. The Turkish brutality indirectly helped in the ‎development of this new spirit. Thus, every Kurd realized that unity was a necessity ‎rather than a tactic or a political maneuver.” (68)‎

During the last stages of Sheik Said Ali’s Rebellion, some Kurdish rebels had ‎escaped to Iran and Iraq. From, there they reentered Kurdistan in small groups and ‎gathered in the region of Ararat which seemed to be the final refuge--and also the new ‎center of rebellion-- for all Kurdish freedom fighters. ‎ In 1926, Col. Ihsan Nuri Pasha, a Kurdish nationalist serving in the Turkish ‎army, deserted the ranks and with the help of some Kurdish and Armenian friends ‎reached Mt. Ararat, where he joined the rebel forces of Haski Telli, the new Kurdish ‎rebel leader. During the following months, hundreds of Kurdish rebels reached Ararat to ‎partake in the preparations for the big event. ‎ On the other hand, minor skirmishes and battles still continued to occur in ‎Hakiari, Hazzo, and Dersim. Kurdish rebel chieftains in these areas too had established ‎relations with the A.R.F. through the agents of the latter.‎ It is interesting to note that Kurds had started to approach Armenians differently ‎as early as 1924. Gone were the memories of Armenian as friends and neighbors that ‎Kurdish Amirs of the previous century had tried to instill in their people. For decades, ‎Kurds had viewed Armenians as an element that can be officially exploited. As a matter ‎of fact that was what the government had made them learn. That Armenians, after ‎decades of Kurdish cruelty, were ready to forget the past and were still eager to lend them ‎a helping hand in their struggle against the government was enough to change Kurdish ‎attitudes towards them. Kurds thus developed a new appreciation towards Armenians and ‎their organizations. (69)‎ The spirit of Armenian-Kurdish unity and cooperation at last started to flourish. ‎Kurds were convinced that in order to gain their freedom they had to fight Kemal’s ‎armies to the last man. As for Kemal, he continued to shape public opinion to his side by ‎attempting to convince it that the continuing Kurdish menace was not an internal issue, ‎but rather one that had many external links, and that England and its agents were ‎primarily involved in it. (70) Kemal’s propaganda did not work in this intense. Moreover, ‎Kurds were sure that Europe and especially England had long since abandoned them and ‎their cause. In their disparity Kurds turned their eyes towards their past neighbors and ‎primary allies, the Armenians, who “sometimes Islamized and wrapped up in Kurdish ‎dress fought by their side and were even martyred for the sake of the Kurdish cause, thus ‎gaining the gratitude and the admiration of the Kurdish people.” (71)‎ ‎ ‎ Sasuni states that Armenians in Iran, Iraq and Syria were the motivating forces ‎behind organizing the different Kurdish forces and political currents. The A.R.F. was ‎active and even instrumental in this regard. On their part, when Kurds saw the enthusiasm ‎with which Armenians approached their—i.e. the Kurds-- cause, they became strongly ‎attached to the Armenians and welcomed their help. As a result of this Armenian ‎endeavor, Kurdish intellectuals and nationalists coalesced to create a united political and ‎military organization that was essential in leading their struggle. Sasuni also writes: - ‎

‎“Kurdish and Armenian revolutionary elements worked hard during 1926-1927: ‎They prepared plans for the future, brought together opposing groups and leaders, and, in ‎the summer of 1927, organized a series of conventions and meetings. In autumn, all ‎preparations were made and everything seemed to be ready for the commencement of the ‎first Kurdish National Congress. Exiled Kurdish intellectuals, leaders of the Kurdish ‎Diaspora, and representatives from the rebel areas of Mt. Ararat came together under the ‎same roof. This could be considered the first serious Kurdish political, and at the same ‎time, revolutionary, congress.” (72)‎

The congress gave birth to “Hoyboun” the Kurdish National Political Party, ‎around which all Kurdish forces gathered. The party was built along lines similar to the ‎A.R.F. During tedious discussions, its goals, political program, and its internal workings ‎were all meticulously crafted. ‎

B. Hoyboun and Its Activities

In the Kurdish language, Hoyboun means independence. After the failure of the 1925 ‎rebellion, rebel Kurds from all over Turkish Kurdistan gathered in and around Mt. Ararat ‎to continue the struggle for the Kurdish Hoyboun. ‎ The founding meetings of the Hoyboun party were conducted in August 1927, in the ‎Lebanese mountain resort town of Bhamdoun. All Kurdish organizations and rebel ‎groupings had sent their representatives to this convention. Among the most important ‎achievements of this congress was that it established a consensus about the issue of the ‎unification of all Kurdish elements under the flag of a single and general organization. ‎Another priority that was achieved during the convention was the implementation of a ‎strong and firm Armenian-Kurdish cooperation. The A.R.F. even sent its representative, ‎Vahan Papazian, better known as Koms (a seasoned revolutionary and a member of the ‎Ottoman parliament during the Ittihadist period), to the convention. Sources agree that ‎Kurds desperately sought the A.R.F. for consultation. Kendal states that: ‎

‎“This Armeno-Kurdish alliance seemed essential to the Kurdish leaders who were ‎very much on the lookout for possible sources of support and aid for their movement. The ‎Armenian party [A.R.F.] seems to have enjoyed more genuine Western support, perhaps ‎because it was struggling not only for the liberation of Turkish Armenia, but also against ‎Soviet control of Russian Armenia…It was as a result of this agreement between the ‎Kurdish and Armenian nationalist leaders, and probably at the request of the latter, that ‎the Ararat region, not far from Soviet Armenia, was chosen as a center for the new ‎uprising. Another factor influencing this choice must have been the fact that from the ‎Ararat area it would be easy to establish lines of communication with Iran, which had ‎also promised to aid the Kurdish movement. The Shah had everything to gain: He would ‎be weakening his rival, Kemalist Turkey, and his control over the insurrection would ‎enable him to forestall the Kurdish revolt which was threatening to break out in Iran ‎itself, under the leadership of Simko.” (74)‎

The founding congress also elected a central committee that soon became known ‎as the Kurdish National Cabinet. The central committee realized that in order to gain ‎momentum and recognition a flexible diplomatic corps was needed to capture ‎international attention toward the Kurdish cause of freedom. The committee also ‎approached Iran and the Arab states of Iraq and Syria in an effort to establish friendly ‎relations with their respective governments. The Kurdish National Cabinet also ‎consigned letters to the Second Socialist International (S.S.I. hereafter) and important ‎European newspapers to direct Europe’s attention towards the Kurdish cause. ‎ Turkey had every reason to fear what was happening. According to Kemalist ‎intelligence sources, the Ararat Mountain was a hotbed of external influence and ‎interference. It was a nest of anti-Kemalist elements. The Turkish army was put on the ‎alert and regiment after another were sent there to give the Kurdish National Movement ‎the final and decisive blow. ‎ Late in 1927, a Turkish army of ten thousand men reached Mt. Ararat and ‎launched a triangular offensive. Ironically, it was Turkey who provoked the Kurdish ‎forces and ignited the general rebellion. During the initial battles, the Turkish army ‎suffered nearly two thousand casualties between dead and wounded.‎ ‎1928-1929 was a year of military preparations on both sides. Hoyboun published ‎one communiqué after another and motivated Kurds to Join the general rebellion both ‎physically and morally.‎


Although the Turkish government crushed Sheik Said Ali’s rebellion with an iron ‎first, Turkish troops, however, were unable to bring all of Kurdistan under their control. ‎Scattered into small, underground fedayeen groups, Kurdish militants and revolutionary ‎elements were almost always on the move to cause harm to the army regiments deployed ‎in the area. Turkish troops faced a grave danger because of the striking methods of the ‎Kurdish fedayeen that seemed to enjoy the devoted and unconditional help of the Kurdish ‎populace. ‎ The Kurdish fighters of Dersim moved to Mt. Ararat. Kurdish revolutionary ‎leaders such as Ibrahim Heski Telli, chief of military operations Ihsan Nuri Pasha and ‎Ziylan Bey were already stationed in the remote mountain. (75) With their enthusiasm ‎they were motivating all Kurdish rebels to join in Ararat. ‎ By now, the Kurdish liberation movement had become a true menace to the ‎authorities. Most importantly, Kurdish fedayeen attacks were obstructing the immigration ‎programs that the Kemalist government was trying to implement. It so happened, that just ‎before the outbreak of the 1925 Kurdish rebellion, Turkish authorities were eagerly ‎working to settle some one hundred thousand Turkic people from the Caucasus, Syria, ‎and Cyprus in Kurdistan and the Eastern [i.e. Armenian, G.M.] vilayets. This ‎immigration project was very important to the Turkish government. In spite of the ‎difficult economic situation that it encountered, the government allocated one million ‎gold coins for this purpose. All this was undertaken to alter the ethnic status quo of the ‎territories under discussion, which was definitely in favor of the Kurds. (76)‎ Armenians in the homeland and especially in their Diaspora viewed the Kurdish ‎rebellious movements as a blessing. After all, this Kurdish movement was blocking the ‎Turkic immigration wave, which aimed at filling emptied Armenian territories with ‎Turkish muhajirs (immigrants). The A.R.F. was most enthusiastic in defending the ‎Kurdish insurrections. On this occasion Arshak Chamalian (Isahakian) writes in A.R.F. ‎organ Droshak: - ‎

‎“We are closely monitoring the Kurdish movements and the substantial attacks ‎that the Kurdish fighters are successfully waging against Turkish troops. By so doing, ‎they are preventing the Turkish government from fulfilling its immigration programs of ‎inhabiting Turkish Armenia with new Turkish muhajirs. It is not surprising that this new ‎wave of Turkish Immigration is something that the Kemalist government is trying to ‎successfully accomplish since the singing of the Lausanne Treaty. Sheik Said Ali’s ‎rebellion was a decisive blow to this project, since it compelled the muhajirs to escape ‎from the East and seek refuge in Western Anatolian territories. Hoyboun’s actions ‎obstructed Kemal from accomplishing his dream of brining Turks from Trace, Bulgaria ‎and Rumania and settling them in the eastern vilayets. Those immigrants did not reach ‎beyond Izmir, and it is there that they are staying.”‎ ‎“We have to realize the great danger behind populating the emptied Armenian ‎lands with the new coming Turkish muhajirs. A project of such magnitude is capable of ‎changing the ethnography of the land; endanger Armenian rights over these places; be a ‎substantial danger to Armenians living in the Trans Caucasian parts of Armenia, since ‎their security will always be compromised. Therefore, even if these Kurdish movements ‎represent no other importance to us Armenians, their obstruction of the Turkish ‎governments immigration policies is reason enough for us to monitor and to support them ‎continuously.” (76)‎

Mustafa Kemal had no other Choice but to try to subdue the Kurdish danger by ‎crushing the Kurdish rebel forces. He realized that he desperately needed to accomplish ‎this to be freed from the only minority issue remaining in his “homogeneous” republic. ‎Moreover, by annihilating the Kurds, he would open the way to communications with the ‎Turkish people of the Transcaucasus -- the still unrealized Pan-Turkish dream. Since he ‎had gotten the “green light” from Communist Russia to oppress the Kurds, thus, with ‎Moscow’s blessing, he started to exert pressure on Iran to allow passage for his troops, so ‎that he could surround Mt. Ararat and strangle the Kurdish rebel nest at Ararat. (78)‎ Kemal proceeded according to this plan and sent his regiments to the battlefield ‎with orders to besiege Mt. Ararat from all sides. Kurds had prepared for this day. Mt. ‎Ararat was now a bomb waiting to explode at any moment.‎

A.‎ The Ararat Rebellion

Early in 1930 Turkish troops stationed around Mt. Ararat started their advance. ‎However, they encountered severe losses because they were unable to effectively besiege ‎the rebel mountain. Moreover, Kurdish revolutionaries still enjoyed the benefits of a ‎supply line through the Iranian corridor. Turkey and Communist Russia insisted that ‎European powers--England, in particular-- were aiding the Kurdish rebels both militarily ‎and economically. It was obvious that this Kurdish-Russian ploy was for propaganda ‎purposes and possessed no kernel of truth. All indications showed that the Kurds were cut ‎from the West and left to their fate. Only limited Armenian aid offered by the A.R.F. ever ‎reached the rebels in Ararat. On the other hand, there are indications that some European ‎powers were in fact aiding Kemal. France was the first to follow such a policy. It allowed ‎Turkish troops to utilize the North Syrian railroad system to transport troops to the ‎southern flanks of Mt. Ararat. Moreover, French authorities made sure that no Kurds ‎living in Iraq or Syria were able to cross to Ararat to take part in the rebellion. ‎ The only attempt to reach and help the Kurdish rebels in Ararat was organized by the ‎Iraqi Kurdish leader, Barazani, who crossed the Turkish border via Iraq with some five ‎hundred Kurdish horsemen. However, after encountering numerous confrontations with ‎Turkish troops, he was compelled to return to his base in the mountains of Musul.‎ Turkey increased its pressure on Iran. It demanded the Shah to open the Iranian border to ‎Turkish troops and to participate in the Turkish military effort to besiege Mt. Ararat, to ‎cut the Kurdish supply lines, and to crush the rebellion.‎ During the initial stages of the conflict, the Shah sent some regiments to the ‎border. He tried to make it amply clear to the Turkish government that crossing the ‎Iranian border will be considered a hostile act. After a while, however, the Shah gave in ‎to diplomatic pressures from Turkey and the Soviet Union. He opened his border to ‎Turkish troops, who swiftly arranged a security cordon around the Iranian skirts of Mt. ‎Ararat. Thus, the rebels’ only operating passage and link with the outside was lost. The ‎Shah also instructed his regiments not to let the Kurdish rebels to escape to Iran, and to ‎help the Turkish troops in their endeavors. ‎ By now Ararat was completely surrounded. Deprived of new resources and any ‎kind of external help; clustered within a narrow strip of land; having lost their only line of ‎communication and supply, Kurdish freedom fighters were confronted by a regular army ‎equipped with submachine guns, artillery, and even an airforce. The battles were intense, ‎however, Kurds stubbornly continued to defend their strongholds. They were even able to ‎shoot down several Turkish military airplanes.‎ Meanwhile, a fledgling Turkey was facing huge economic hardships, because of ‎the military expenses it had to incur. The government was on the verge of bankruptcy. ‎The Kurdish uprisings and their human and economic toll made Turks question the ‎validity of their government’s policies. Many opposition leaders started to freely criticize ‎Kemal’s actions. Ismet Pasha, Turkey’s prime minister, tried his best to silence those ‎angry voices. Unable to achieve this peacefully, he utilized his only other alternative, the ‎army. This created a chain reaction, which added to the political and economic turmoil. ‎ The Turkish government tried desperately to strengthen its economic position. Attempts ‎to provide European loans failed. Bankers refused to venture in a country facing severe ‎internal and economic problems. Once again, it was Communist Russia that came to ‎Kemal’s aid. It was through Soviet gold that Kemal was able to continue his war. (78)‎ Turkish troops continued their military operations in Ararat. Kemal sent all his reserve ‎regiments and even new recruits to the battlefield. Fortified in their high mountain ‎strongholds, Kurds continued to remain adamant and to inflict a heavy loss on the ‎Turkish army. High ranking Turkish officers were outraged by the strong Kurdish ‎defenses. In some instances they had to sacrifice hundreds of Turkish soldiers just to ‎occupy a single Kurdish stronghold. (80)‎ Kemal was convinced that subduing the Ararat rebellion was only a matter or ‎time. His conviction was based on the facts that Kurds 1) were cut off from all of their ‎communication and supply lines. 2) They had severe shortages of ammunition and food ‎supplies. 3) Turkish offensives, although very costly in terms of number of soldiers lost, ‎wasted huge amounts of Kurdish military supplies. All these factors added to the Kurdish ‎predicament.‎ On the mountain, beside Kurdish freedom fighters, there were civilians (usually ‎families and relatives of fighters). Supplying them with food and shelter was difficult, ‎especially because winter was so near. Some Kurdish leaders like Ihsan Nuri Pasha ‎thought about leading the people and most of the fighters to other places under the cover ‎of dark. Others, fanatics like Ibrahim Heski Telli, wanted to remain and defend the ‎mountain until the last man. As for the problem that civilian Kurds posed, the extremist ‎Telli advocated killing them all so that their presence and eventual predicament would ‎not weaken the rebels’ will. Telli went as for as trying to kill some members of his own ‎family to set an example for others. Some of his most loyal fighters interfered to stop the ‎madness. (81)‎ As a last resort, a group of Kurdish fighters were able to open a corridor to the Iranian ‎side of the mountain. Civilian Kurds and many of the fighters used this passage. Once on ‎the other side of the mountain they surrendered to the Iranian authorities. Heski Telli and ‎his ardent followers vanished from site for some months. They took refuge in the caves ‎on the mountaintop. Telli and his devoted fedayeens continued their struggle for two ‎more years until they were all massacred in 1932. Apparently, Telli lived by his vow to ‎fight until the last man…‎

B. The Kurdish Question in the Second Socialist International

The most active and positive page in the history of Armenian-Kurdish relations was ‎written prior to and during the actual Kurdish rebellions of Dersim and especially Mt. ‎Ararat. The A.R.F. was instrumental in providing much needed aid to the Kurdish ‎national Movement. It provided the moral support that Kurdish warriors needed in their ‎battles against the Turkish armies. ‎ It was within the confines of this moral support that the A.R.F. provided critical help ‎to the Kurdish Revolution and its leading organization, Hoyboun. This was achieved ‎through the channels of the Second Socialist International (S.S.I. hereafter). It was ‎through the dedicated work of Arshak Chamalian, the A.R.F. representative to the S.S.I., ‎that in August of 1930 the General Assembly of the International ratified an important ‎resolution concerning the Kurdish issue. It read as follows: ‎

‎“The executive of the S.S.I. calls the world’s attention to the massacres which are ‎being committed by the Turkish government. Peaceful Kurdish peasants who have not ‎participated in the Insurrection (Ararat Rebellion) are being exterminated just as the ‎Armenians were. The degree of repression extents far beyond containment of the Kurdish ‎struggle for freedom. Yet Capitalist public opinion has not in any way protested against ‎this bloody savagery.” (82)‎

The S.S.I. tried to direct the attention of the European newspapers toward the Kurdish ‎issue. It even utilized its diplomatic channels to bring the matter to the attention of The ‎League of Nations. However, these efforts were defeated because Turkey, being a ‎member of the League, used all of its diplomatic muscle to block the discussion of the ‎Kurdish issue, insisting that it was solely an internal Turkish affair.‎ The 1930-1931 issues of the A.R.F. organ Droshak are almost entirely dedicated to ‎articles dealing with the debates of the Kurdish issue in the S.S.I. The articles confirm the ‎sympathy and the cooperation of the Armenians and the A.R.F. in particular with the ‎Kurds and their liberation movement. ‎ The A.R.F. did all this with only one goal in mind. To make the world understand that ‎in the far away mountain of Ararat a people was fighting for freedom. It was besieged by ‎regular army battalions that were shelling not only freedom fighters but even families, ‎children, and elderly people.‎ Chamalian presented a through report regarding the Kurdish Question during the ‎S.S.I. meeting. He tried to clarify the causes that led to the Kurdish resurrections. A ‎historical background of the Kurdish people was delivered to the General Assembly ‎concentrating particularly on the events of the last decade (1920-1930). It emphasized the ‎deportation and relocation policies deployed by the Kemalist government that aimed at ‎the Turkification of the Kurds and their uprooting from their ancestral, national, and ‎historical homeland. (83)‎ Turkey’s European diplomatic corps and missions tried to rewrite history by ‎presenting events in Kurdistan as “the Turkish government’s effort to silence bands of ‎robbers and criminals who were causing hardships to peaceful peasants”. (84)‎ European newspapers remained silent about the Kurdish issue. Only a handful of ‎journalistic and diplomatic reports came from that part of the world. Moreover, the ‎validity, and, most importantly, the authenticity of those reports remained questionable.‎ Contrary to the sympathy that the International’s most influential representatives ‎‎(like those of France, Great Britain, and Austria) had toward the Kurdish anguish, ‎nothing could be expected from a congress of socialist parties in the midst of capitalist ‎Europe. It was true that the S.S.I. was an international form, however, it did not have the ‎political muscle to force its will over European powers concerning the Kurdish Question. ‎Moreover, the S.S.I. regarded the Kurdish issue as the first phase of a total “Eastern ‎Conflict” that could endanger European peace. From this point of view, the S.S.I. was in ‎favor of a truce between Turks and Kurds. Therefore, it preferred a diplomatic solution to ‎the Kurdish Question. ‎ After quenching the Ararat Rebellion, the Turkish government started ‎implementing a new wave of Kurdish deportation and relocation projects. Turkish troops ‎stationed in Kurdish territories supervised those massive Kurdish deportations to Western ‎Turkey. Simultaneously, thousands of Turkish immigrants were brought to inhabit ‎vacated Kurdish territories. Turkish civil authorities were, by law, urged to assist the ‎military in Kurdish relocation project on condition that “Kurds must not exceed the ten ‎percent limit of the population in the relocated areas.” (85) ‎ Thus, in the winter of 1932, hundreds of thousands of Kurds were deported from ‎Kurdistan. Nevertheless, in Dersim Kurds decided to resist deportation and never to leave ‎their homeland. This Kurdish resistance too was crushed by regular Turkish troops. ‎Kurds continued to fight until late in 1937, when the Turkish government was finally able ‎to suppress all of Kurdistan.‎

C. “The Mountain Turks”!!!‎

In the following decades, Kurdistan and its people lived in anguish and turmoil. ‎Consecutive Turkish governments suppressed the Kurds and Kurdish spirit. Assimilation, ‎annihilation and Turkification continued. All these measures aimed at making the Kurds ‎believe that they are an inseparable part of the Turkish race and not a distinct ethnic ‎element that possess its own history, civilization, and culture. Kurdish language and ‎literature were banned. The words “Kurd” and “Kurdistan” were omitted from ‎dictionaries and history books. Turkish “scholars” rewrote the history of the Kurds. They ‎became known as “The Mountain Turks.” (86)‎


Author’s note

This essay was first researched and written during the years 1983-1984. An initial ‎Armenian version of it was presented as a senior thesis at the "Institute Superior ‎d'Armenologie," operating under the uspieces of the “Hamazkaine” Cultural Association ‎in Beirut, Lebanon, for a BA degree in Armenian History.‎ In 1986 an edited, English version of the same essay was presented as a senior ‎project for a second BA degree in History-Armenian Studies at the University of La ‎Verne, California.‎ This is a second edited version of the same senior project. Its editing was ‎completed in April 1999. Although it had been written over more than a decade ago, I ‎commit it to publication mainly because of the new interest in Kurds and Kurdistan in ‎general. The essay deals with a period of Kurdish history (1830-1930) about which very ‎little academic research has ever been produced. Moreover, it is my hope that the usage ‎of firsthand sources and materials dealing with Armenian-Kurdish relations during the ‎century under discussion (especially in Armenian) makes writing and editing the ‎narrative worthwhile. ‎


‎1. Karo, Sasuni, “Kurteru Ev Hayeru Azatagrakan Sharzhman Pulere Ev Anonts' Pokh ‎ ‎ Haraberutiunnere,” Hayrenik, 1929, # 1, p. ‎ According to more recent research concerning the origins of Indo-European ‎peoples, the British linguist-archeologist, Robert Renfrew [The Puzzle of Indo-‎European Origins] as well as the Russian and Georgian historians, Ivanof and ‎Komgralitse respectively, attest that the Kurds too might be of Indo-European stock. ‎Therefore, they can be considered as the original inhabitants of the region under ‎discussion.‎ ‎2. Ibid, It is important to note here that Sasuni cites the terms of the treaty from a ‎ Hoyboun (Kurdish National Organization, or Committee for Kurdish ‎Independence) publication. ‎ About the same treaty also see: Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere ‎ Ev Hay Krtakan Haraberutiunnere, Hamazkaine Press, Beirut, 1969, pp.38-39.‎ ‎3.‎ Leo, Hayotz Patmutiun, Vol. III, Erevan, 1946, p. 178.‎ Here, the famous Armenian Historian analyzes why the Ottoman Sultan was ‎showing a friendly attitude toward the Kurdish princes. It was through such policies ‎that the sultan was able to bring the popular Kurdish Mulla Idris of Bitlis to his ‎camp. Mulla Idris worked ardently for the Ottoman cause; accepted bribes; with his ‎furious religious speeches motivated thousands of Kurds to come and live in the ‎northern areas of Lake Van (thus overlapping land which were historically ‎Armenian); thus securing the border against any Persian intervention.‎ In a similar fashion, a Kurdish author, Makhmutov, adds that the Kurds who ‎were living in Erzerum and Van were actually from Diarbekir. They had migrated to ‎those areas because of Mulla Idris’s motivational tactics. According to Makhmutov, ‎‎“Mulla Idris did accomplish Turkish policies even at the expense of his own people, ‎the Kurds.”‎ N. Makhmutov Kh., Kurt Zhoghovurte, Haybed Hrad Press, Erevan, 1959, p.‎ ‎4. Sasuni, “Kurderu Eva Hayeru Azatagrakan,” p.‎


‎5. Gerard, Chaliand, Ed., People without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan, ‎ ‎ Zed Press, London, 1980, p. 26. ‎ The quotation is from Kendal, whose paper appears in the above-mentioned ‎volume, with the title “The Kurds Under Ottoman Rule.”‎ ‎6.‎ Ibid, p. 27.‎ ‎7.‎ Ibid, p. 27. Also see:‎ Arshak, Safrastian, Kurds And Kurdistan, Harvic Press, London, 1948, p. 52.‎ ‎8.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 27. Also see:‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 86-89.‎ ‎9.‎ In 1839 the Ottomans suffered a serious defeat at Nazib (in Syria) against the forces ‎ of Ibrahim Pasha, son of Egypt’s viceroy, Mohamed Ali.‎ ‎10.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 29. Also see:‎ Safrastian, Kurds and Kurdistan, p. ‎ ‎11.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 29. Also see:‎ Sydney, Fisher N., The Middle East: A History, New York, 1965, p. 331.‎ ‎12.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin, pp. 101-103.‎ ‎ ‎ According to Makhmutov, Amir Bedir Khan did not enjoy friendly relations ‎ with the Christians living in his domain. Makhmutov implies directly that the Amir ‎had no intention of establishing any friendly relations with those Christians. In this ‎author’s opinion, such an analysis is vague and confusing. The mere fact that Bedir ‎Khan intended to establish communications with Russia and Georgia necessitated that ‎he create friendly ties with his Armenian, Assyrian, Nestorian and other Christian ‎subjects, even if he was not sincere in his intentions. It follows that Armenians even ‎participated in his army (although in very small numbers).‎ ‎ Makhmutov, Kurt Zhoghovurte, p. 30.‎ ‎13.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 120. Also see:‎ Makhmutov, Kurt Zhoghovurte, p. 120‎ The major difference between Kendal and Makhmutov is that according to the ‎latter Yezdansher had an army of one hundred thousand soldiers in February 1855. ‎According to Kendal, Yezdansher’s army grew to that number only late in the ‎summer of 1855. There is a time gap of almost nine months. Kendal’s time frame ‎seems to be more accurate. If Yezdansher had his massive army in February, why ‎would he lose such valuable time and postpone the offensive (winter was not a ‎problem, and the element of surprise was to be lost, G.M.) just for the sake of ‎establishing communications with the Russians of which he was not so sure anyway?‎ ‎14.‎ The indication is of the Crimean War during which European powers joined forces ‎ with the Ottomans to defeat Russia and thus preserve the territorial integrity of the ‎Ottoman Empire. The defeat was a decisive blow for the Russians, especially for their ‎southwestern expansion. The outcome of the war was a shameful treaty that ‎compelled the Russians to postpone their expansion policy by some twenty years ‎‎(1875-1876).‎ ‎15.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 30.‎


‎16.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, p. 138.‎ ‎17.‎ Ibid, pp. 139-140.‎ ‎18.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 31.‎ ‎19.‎ Ibid, pp. 31-32.‎ ‎20.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin, pp. 145-146.‎ ‎21.‎ Makhmutov, Kurt Zhoghovurte, p. 129‎ ‎22.‎ Sources do not label this rebellion a “national liberation movement.” However, one ‎must take into consideration the tribal status quo of the Kurds itself was a primary ‎obstacle for the propagation of national liberation sentiments in the population. It is ‎therefore important to look at the events from this perspective.‎ ‎23.‎ Sasuni, ‘Kurteru Eva Hayeru Azatagrakan Sharzhman Pulere,” Hayrenik, 1930, # 7, ‎p. 124.‎


‎24.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 33.‎ ‎25.‎ For information regarding the organization and the ideology of its leaders see:‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Eva Hayeru”, Hayrenik, 1930, # 7, p.124.‎ ‎26.‎ Ibid, p. 124.‎ ‎27.‎ Ibid, pp. 125-127. Also see:‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 162-166.‎ ‎28.‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Eva Hayeru”, p. 127.‎ ‎29.‎ For more information about the 1894-96 insurrection in Sasun see:‎ Ruben, Ter Minassian, Hay Heghabokhagani me Hishataknere, Hamazkaine ‎Press, Beirut, 1974, Vol. III, pp. 70-113. Also see:‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 166-169, and‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Eva Hayeru”, pp. 127-128.‎ ‎30.‎ The number of Armenians massacred is a matter of debate. While some sources ‎ estimate it at about three hundred thousand, others, like Sydney Fisher figure it at ‎around one hundred thousand. This numbers represent Armenians who were ‎massacred in Sasun, the eastern vilayets and also in pogroms in and around the capital ‎city, Istanbul during 1894-96. Nevertheless, what all sources agree upon is that these ‎‎“Hamidian Massacres” (After sultan Abdul Hamid, who instigated them) were the ‎first planned [G.M.] extermination that the Ottoman government undertook. ‎Moreover, the magnitude of these massacres show, that they exceeded all previous ‎forms of atrocities committed against Armenians in the empire.‎ ‎31.‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Ev Hayeru,” pp. 1280129.‎ ‎32.‎ Ter Minassian, Hay Heghapokhakani, Vol. II, p. 106.‎ About the battles of Vaspurakan, see:‎ Ibid, pp. 93-106.‎ About the life and work of Rev. Vartan, Hrayr, Keri, and other Armenian patriots ‎who were the real advocates of Armenian-Kurdish cooperation and friendship see:‎ Ter Minassian, Hay Heghapokhakani, Vol. III, pp. 130-140, 240-270.‎ As for the 1904 second rebellion of Sasun, first Ter Minassian’s voluminous work ‎contains an abundance of first hand information about it, since he was present and an ‎eye witness of the events he describes.‎ ‎33.‎ The Khanasor Expedition is a huge subject in itself. It can easily be the topic of ‎another research narrative because it possesses a momentous literature of its own. In ‎the context of this narrative, it was cited as an example of the armed propaganda that ‎the A.R.F. deployed to show that Armenians were not going to remain passive, but ‎would even retaliate-- with force if necessary—to protect their lives and fortunes.‎ ‎34.‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Eva Hayeru,” p. 129.‎ ‎35.‎ Ibid, pp. 130-133. Regarding this matter also see:‎ Abdul Rahman Bey, “Koch Kurterun"[Kurtlere Khitab], Droshak, 1898, # 6, p. 51.‎ Droshak published the Armenian version of said document. On the other hand, the ‎A.R.F. was instrumental in procuring thousands of copies of the pamphlet in Turkish ‎to distribute it in Kurdistan. ‎ ‎36.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 185-188.‎ ‎37.‎ Ibid, pp. 189-191.‎ An example of this sort of Turkish treachery is Ghasem Beg, who joined the ranks ‎of the A.R.F. and even became a member of one of its regional committees. He ‎assumed the name “Nor Melik” (New Prince, G.M.) However, He committed a ‎dreadful crime that caused the death of several devoted and seasoned Armenian ‎freedom fighters, fedayeens. According to Ter Minassian, Ghasem Beg invited the ‎fedayeens who were visiting his village to his home where he fed them and then, with ‎his accomplices, killed them while they were fast asleep.‎


‎38.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 34.‎ ‎39.‎ Ibid, p. 35.‎ ‎40.‎ Ibid, pp. 35-36‎ ‎41.‎ Ibid, p. 36‎ ‎42.‎ Jalil, Jalali, “Bitlisi 1914 Tvi Krtagan Apstambutiune Hay Mamuli Gnahatmamb,” ‎Patmabanasirakan Handes, Erevan, 1985, # 4, pp. 127-130.‎ ‎43.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, p. 206.‎ ‎44.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 37.‎ Zia Gukalp, the exponent of Pan-Turanism or Pan-Turkism, was from Diarbekir. ‎He was able to influence the Young Turks with his extremely poetic, yet at the same ‎time politically extremist literature. The leaders of the Young Turks became his ‎ardent followers. Also important in this regard was Ahmed Akchura, another ‎proponent of Pan-Turkism, whose writing gained him a following within the ranks of ‎the Young Turks. ‎ ‎45.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 37.‎ ‎46.‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Ev Hayeru Azatagrakan,” p. 134.‎ ‎47.‎ When Turks and Kurds were drafted into the army, the former took part in the ‎Armenian Conscription Committees, while the latter joined the Hamidiye bands, ‎thus remaining in their own territory or region. As for the Armenian villagers, it was ‎almost impossible for them to pay the “Badali Askariye,” (conscription exemption ‎fee or tax) because, simply put; they could not afford it. A famous scenario was that ‎Hamidiye bands would attack Armenian villages and rob the villagers just prior to the ‎visit of the Conscription Committee officials. Unable to rescue their young men, they ‎were dragged into the army to serve in remote areas, often in “work battalions.” On ‎the other hand, searching for Armenian deserters was often enough for Turkish ‎regular troops to surround Armenian villages and towns causing great hardship to the ‎inhabitants. Only the mountainous regions of Sasun remained exempt from military ‎draft. While young Armenians from Mush, Van, Bitlis and other eastern vilayets were ‎drafted only to join “work battalions” and then to be massacred once their roles were ‎fulfilled.‎ ‎48.‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Eva Hayeru Azatagrakan,” p. 135.‎ ‎49.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 38.‎ ‎50.‎ Sasuni, “Kurteru Eva Hayeru Azatagrakan,” pp. 135-136.‎ ‎51.‎ Ibid, p. 137‎ ‎52.‎ Ibid, p. 138.‎ ‎53.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 39.‎ ‎54.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, p. 231.‎ ‎55.‎ Ibid, p. 234.‎ ‎56.‎ Ibid, pp. 234-235. Also see:‎ Simon, Vrats'ian, A.R.F. Archives, # 34-2, Boston, Mass.‎ Vrats’ian was a leading A.R.F. figure. During the period of the Armenian Republic ‎‎(1918-120) he served twice as prime minister.‎ ‎57.‎ Vrats’ian, Archives, # 34-5.‎ This document represents a copy of the original response that the two Armenian ‎delegations sent to the Armenian newspapers of the day. Both delegations tried to ‎make it clear that no concessions were made to the Kurds during the negotiations.‎ ‎58.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 236-238. Also see:‎ Chaliand, People Without, pp. 41-42.‎ ‎59.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 43.‎


‎60.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 55.‎ ‎61.‎ Ibid, p. 59-60.‎ ‎62.‎ Hakki, “Krtakan Apstambutiune,” Droshak, 1926, 6, pp. 179-182.‎ ‎63.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 60. Also see:‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, p. 240.‎ According to Sasuni, the organization was founded in October 1920, with the ‎objective of liberating Kurdistan from Turkish rule. On the other hand, Kendal shifts ‎the founding of the organization and the Central Committee to 1922. Kendal’s date, ‎i.e. 1922 is more plausible, since in 1920 Kurds and their leaders were still followers ‎of Kemal and were engaging their capabilities against the Republic of Armenia.‎ ‎64.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 242-244.‎ After the fall of the independent Armenian Republic, A.R.F. leaders and members at ‎large were forced to exile and to an eventual process of reorganization. In this regard, ‎many exiled leaders were in favor of close cooperation with the Kurds. It follows, ‎therefore, that this exiled A.R.F. leadership was instrumental in the formation of ‎Hoyboun, and the preparations for the Ararat Rebellion. It is perhaps worth ‎mentioning, that an agreement was signed between the A.R.F. and the Kurdish ‎national Movement (Hoyboun) in 1924, with the purpose of rejuvenating the Treaty ‎of Sevres and accepting the articles of that treaty as a determinant for the boundaries ‎between Armenia and Kurdistan.‎ ‎65.‎ Hakki, “Krtakan,” p. 182. Also see:‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 61.‎ ‎66.‎ Hakki, “Krtakan,” p. 182.‎ ‎67.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 63.‎ ‎68.‎ Sasuni, “Kurt Azgayin Kusaksutiune,” Hayrenik, 1931, # 5, p. 75.‎ ‎69.‎ Ibid, p. 76.‎ ‎70.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 63.‎ ‎71.‎ Sasuni, “Kurt Kusaksutiune,” p. 77.‎ ‎72.‎ Ibid, p. 78.‎ ‎73.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 255-266.‎


‎74.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 64.‎ ‎75.‎ During the beginning stages of the Ararat Rebellion, Armenian-Kurdish cooperation ‎was achieved through the efforts of Ziylan Bey, known to be one of the most famous ‎rebels on the mountain. The shocking reality is that Ziylan Bey was not Kurdish ‎but Armenian from the Khnus village of Sasun. His real name was Artashes ‎Muradian. Sasuni, who knew Ziylan Bey-Artashes Muradian adds:‎ ‎“Ziylan Bey, who was none other than Artashes Muradian from Khnus. He was a ‎devoted A.R.F. agent sent secretly by the party to Ararat with the purpose of ‎strengthening Armenian-Kurdish relations and helping the Kurds in their utmost ‎struggle. Today, after twenty four years, we can openly declare the Armenian identity ‎of Ziylan Bey.”‎ Ziylan Bey (Artashes Muradian) was ambushed and killed by communist spies ‎who had infiltrated the ranks of the rebels on Mt. Ararat. Sasuni also mentions that ‎Ziylan Bey was only one of the scores of Armenian freedom fighters in the Ararat ‎Rebellion. His case is publicized because he had attained a certain level of leadership ‎in the rebellion. The identities of other Armenians-- disguised as Kurds-- in the ‎rebellion still remains to be determined.‎ ‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, p. 284.‎ ‎76.‎ Ibid, p. 285.‎ ‎77.‎ Arshak, Chamalian, “Krtakan Harts'e,” Droshak, 1930, # 1, p. 185.‎ ‎78.‎ Ibid, pp. 185-186.‎ ‎79.‎ Sasuni, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere, pp. 290-291.‎ ‎80.‎ Ibid, p. 292.‎ ‎81.‎ Ibid, p. 293.‎ ‎82.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 66.‎ ‎83.‎ Chamalian, “Krtakan Harts'e Internats'ionalum,” Droshak, 1931, # 3, p. , # 4, pp. ‎‎77-80.‎ ‎84.‎ Author Unknown, “Viennayi Turk Despanutiune Eva Krtakan Khendire,” Droshak, ‎‎1926, # 2, pp. 52-54‎ The article starts with a reprint of a communiqué issued by the Turkish Embassy ‎at Vienna, which states that all news materials printed in the newspapers of the day ‎concerning the Kurdish resurrections are untrue “…and full of lies.” It also accuses ‎Armenians and the A.R.F. in particular for being the source of these news.‎ The second part of the article is a response by Arshak Chamalian. He defends the ‎justness of the Kurdish rebellion as well as the A.R.F. position regarding the Kurdish ‎issue.‎ ‎85.‎ Chaliand, People Without, p. 66.‎ ‎86.‎ Ibid, p. 68. ‎



Altalabani, Jalal, Kurdistan wa Alharaka al Khowmiya al Kurdiya, Tali’a Press, ‎ Beirut, 1971.‎

Arfa, Hasan, The Kurds, Oxford University Press, New York, 1966.‎

Chaliand, Gerard, Editor, People Without a Country: Kurds And Kurdistan, Zed ‎ Press, London, 1980.‎

Edmonds, Cecil John, Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Oxford University Press, New York, 1957.‎

Eagleton, William, Junior, The Kurdish Republic of 1946, Oxford University Press, ‎ New York, 1963.‎

Fisher, Sydney N., The Middle East: A History, New York, 1965.‎

Makhmutov, N. Kh., Kurt Zhoghovurde, Haypet Hrat Press, Erevan, 1959.‎

Malkhas (Hovsepian, Artashes), Aprumner - Jambus Vra, 2 volumes, New York, 1959.‎

Mazhar, Kamal Ahmad, Kurdistan Fi Sanawat al Harb al Alamiya al Ula, Bagdad, ‎ ‎1977.‎

Mikayelian, Kristapor, Ampokhayin Tramabanutiun, Hamazkaine Press, Beirut, 1974.‎

Sasuni, Karo, Kurt Azgayin Sharzhumnere Ev Hay Krtakan Haraberutiunnere, ‎ Hamazkaine Press, Beirut, 1969.‎

Shiod, M. T., Kurtere Tajgats’ Hayastanum, Pushkinyan Press, St. Petersburg, 1905.‎

Ter Minassian, Ruben, Hay Heghapokhakani Me Hishataknere, 8 volumes, ‎ Hamazkaine Press, Beirut, 1974.‎

Varantian Mikayel, Ho.Hi.Ta. Patmutiun, 2 volumes, Geneva, 1910.‎

Vratzian, Simon, A.R.F. Archives, Batch #s 34-2 & 34-5‎

HAYRENIK Issues (Chronological)‎

Ter Minassian, Ruben, “Hayastani Arevelke,” Hayrenik, Boston, 1927, # 11, pp. 94-108.‎

Sasuni, Karo, “Kurteru Ev Hayeru Azatagrakan Sharzhman Pulere Ev Anonts’ Pokh ‎ Haraberudiunnere,” Hayrenik, Boston, 1929, # 1, pp. 134-145, also 1930, # 7, pp. ‎‎124-133, 1930, #12, pp. 134-140.‎

‎__________ , “Kurt Azgayin Kusakts’utiune,” Hayrenik, Boston, 1931, # 5, pp. 74-100, ‎ ‎1931, # 6, pp. 125-131.‎

DROSHAK Issues (Chronological)‎

Abdul Rahman Bey, “Koch’ Kurterun,” [Kurtlere Khitab], Droshak, 1898, # 6, pp. ‎

Ter Minassian, Ruben, “Krtakan Sharzhume,” Droshak, 1925, # 1, pp. 10-14, 1925, # 2, ‎ pp. 38-40.‎

Vratzian, Simon, “Hayastane Ev Ir Harevannere,” Droshak, 1925, # 3, pp. 68-71.‎

Author Unknown, “Krtakan Sharzhume,” Droshak, 1925, # 4, pp. 124-127.‎

Hakki, Ismail, “Krtakan Apstambutiune,” Droshak, 1925, # 6, pp. 179-182, 1926, # 1, ‎ pp. 18-21.‎

Chamalian, Arshak, “Viennayi TurkDespanutiune Ev Krtakan Khendire,” Droshak, ‎ ‎1926, # 2, pp. 52-54.‎

Amatuni, H., “Krtakan Sharzhumnere,” Droshak, 1926, # 4, pp. 110-112.‎

Vahakn, “Musuli Khendire,” Droshak, 1926, # 6, pp.‎

Auther Unknown, “Kurt-Trkakan Paykare,” Droshak, 1928, # 1, pp. 29-30.‎

Auther Unknown, “Krtakan Sharzhume Ev Iran,” Droshak, 1928, # 4, pp.‎

Ashot, “Krtakan Sharzhume Khorherdayin Aknots’ov,” Droshak, 1928, # 5, pp.‎

Auther Unknown, “Ararati Krivnere,” Droshak, 1929, # 8, pp. 147-148.‎

Chamalian, Arshak, “Krtakan harts’e,” Droshak, 1930, # 8, pp. 185-188.‎

‎________________, “Krtakan Harts’e Internats’ionalum,” Droshak, 1930, # 8, pp‎

Sasuni, Karo, “Krtakan Apstambutiune,” Droshak, 1930, # 8, pp. 191-196.‎

‎__________, “Krtakan Sharzhume,” Droshak, 1931, # 1-2, pp. 11-14.‎

Misakian Shavarsh, “Tashnak-Hoyepun,” Droshak, 1931, # 3, pp.‎

Chamalian, Arshak, “Krtrakan harts’e Internats’ionalum,” Droshak, 1931, # 3, pp. , ‎ ‎1931, # 2, pp. 77-80.‎


Poladyan, A.B., “Kurtistane Arach’in Hamashkharhayin Paterazmi Tarinerin,” ‎ Patmabanasirakan Handes, Erevan, 1979, # 2, pp. 259-262.‎

Jalali, Jalal, “Bitlisi 1914 Tvi Krtakan Apstamputiune Hay mamuli Gnahatmamb,” ‎ Patmabanasirakan Handes, Erevan, 1985, # 4, pp.126-134.‎

AZDAK Issues (Chronological)‎

Sasuni, Armen, “Kurt Azgayin Sharzhume,” Azdak, Beirut, 1927, # 1, p. 2.‎

‎____________, “Krtakan Sharzhume Ke Dz’avali,” Azdak, Beirut, 1927, # 17, p.1.‎

Author(s) Unknown, Reports, “Azat Ev Ankakh Kurtistan, Azdak, Beirut, 1927, # 28, p. ‎ ‎1, # 34, p. 1, # 44, pp, 1-2.‎

‎_______________________, “Krtakan Apstambutiune,” Azdak, Beirut, 1927, # 52, p. 1, ‎ ‎# 56, p. 1.‎

‎_______________________, “Krtakan Sharzhumnere,” Azdak, Beirut, 1927, # 62, p 1, # ‎ ‎67, p. 1, # 72, p.1, # 78, p. 1, 1928, # 93, p. 1.‎

Author Unknown, “Krtakan Sharzhumnere Ev Arab Terti Me Mtahogutiunnere,” Azdak, ‎ Beirut, 1928, # 92, p. 1.‎

‎___________, “Kurt Ev Trkakan Kurtistani Krivnere,” Azdak, Beirut, 1928, # 129, p.1.‎

‎___________, “Krtakan Krivnere,” Azdak, Beirut, 1928, # 122, p. 1.‎

‎___________, “Krtakan Ch’ardere,” Azdak, Beirut, 1928, # 122, p. 1.‎