The Northern Kurd of Armenia
The Northern Kurd of Armenia originated in Turkey. Large numbers of Kurds immigrated to Armenia and Georgia in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Some of them are Yazidis (a sect of Islam) who were fleeing persecution as heretics in the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Though the distinct Kurdish communities within the C.I.S. (former USSR) are separated by religion, places of origin, and distance, many Kurds still dream of a united Kurdistan. Customs and traditional dress have been maintained in many areas. The C.I.S. encourages the Kurds to use their national language, and Armenia has become a cultural center for Kurds. There are radio broadcasts in the Kurmanji dialect and there is a Kurdish publishing house.
What are their lives like?
While the Kurds in Turkey are relatively poor, former Soviet Kurds are among the nation's most prosperous citizens. They work hard on the various collective farms, as well as tending to their own herds and plots of land.
The prosperity of the Northern Kurd is evident in the quality of their homes. They have modern houses made of stone or brick, usually equipped with central heating and sometimes even a telephone. Their villages have broad, well-lit streets, linked to the cities by reasonably good roads. They have their own schools, school books, and a printing press, as well as many other things that are considered "luxurious" in Kurdistan. They face no discrimination and many hold high political offices. Illiteracy disappeared among them in the 1930's.
Prior to glasnost, there was a measure of cultural freedom for the Kurds. However, both glastnost and Armenia's independence have contributed to a resurgence of Kurdish identity and expression. As Kurdish nationalism has been re-awakened, many C.I.S. citizens have embraced their ethnic origins by declaring themselves to be Kurds.
Though the Kurdish Yazidis of Armenia are small in number, they have done the most to defend their identity. They have jealously guarded their national customs and have resisted the pressure to be absorbed into the Armenian lifestyle.
The Kurds are noted for their elaborate and colorful national costumes. The men's attire consists of baggy, colored trousers and plain shirts with huge sleeves split at the wrist and tied at the elbow. Brilliantly colored vests and sashes are also worn. Women wear brightly embroidered, heavy clothing.
What are their beliefs?
Traditional Muslim Kurds have long persecuted the Yazidis, whom they view as heretics.
What are their needs?
Currently, there are no missions agencies targeting the Northern Kurd of Armenia. Although the New Testament and the Jesus film are available in their language, there are still only 18 known believers among them. Christian radio and television broadcasts as well as literature are needed to successfully reach the Northern Kurd population with the Gospel.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.