Saturday, February 10, 2007

Kurds say Armenians head towards a bright future in the Region

February 9, 2007

The Kurdish Globe - by Khidhr Domle

"The most important case here (in Kurdistan) is the rule of law," says Dr. Lewis, an Armenian university-professor.

"Kurdistan Region has become part of the Western world and civilization, which people look at with respect and the majority push towards this direction; it is a civilized trait."

"Turkey should be punished," Nasik Minas Abraham, an Armenian who fled Baghdad 8 years ago and came to live in Kurdistan, says. "Turks killed the Armenian journalist because he was trying to uncover the truth, which must be revealed."

She says despite the fact she was not reading his articles before he was assassinated and did not know much about him; she has since then learnt of his activities, including his attempts to unveil the truth that would have convicted Turkey of the Armenian genocide. "He was a great journalist who had a goal and struggled for it; and Turkey eleminated him," Nasik says, angrily.

Fleeing Baghdad and settling in Kurdistan Region has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of Armenians in the region. Armenians do not face any kind of discrimination against them, regional authorities say. "Being a minority in Kurdistan, our rights have never been violated," Artin Khalatiyan, the Pastor of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Zakho, says. "The most important issue for us is to lay the foundation of brotherhood and the spread of love, which are things we pray for, for everyone and not just the Armenians," he says. "Similar to all other minorities, we hope that our rights will be granted in the Constitution of Kurdistan."

Comparing the situation of Armenianas in Kurdistan to their patriots living in Turkey, he says, "It is very unfortunate that he (Hrant Dink) was assassinated, this proves that the Turkish authorities were afraid of him because he was an active journalist to whom the Armenian rights mattered."

The Pastor also touched the case of Armenians fleeing Mosul following the explosion of their church on January 5, 2006. "Around a hundred (Armenian) families have fled to Duhok (in Kurdistan), with many to Karakush, in the north of Mosul as well as Ainkawa in Erbil."

According to Artin, eleven hundred Armenians live in Zakho. He said, "Armenians paid dearly during the 1915 Massacre in Turkey." He added that the Ottoman Empire slaughtered 70% of the rest of the Armenian people. "(But) we feel safe here, the Kurdish government is assisting all the Armenians who have fled." He added that "30 families in Zakho are receiving monthly aid and there are attempts to rebuild the Armenian villages."

"The campaign to rebuild Armenian villages has started at Hawresk Village, for the Armenians," he said. "It is on the highway between Zakho and Duhok."

Living in peace and brotherhood is the objective. "Our goal is to live in peace and to spread love and forgiveness, which we lost," he said. "We, in our prayers, ask for promotion of these principles for the rest of the people of Kurdistan, not only for Armenians."

Kurdistan is the place where followers of different religions live together in harmony. "Kurdistan has started inculcating the culture of religious forgiveness and brotherhood," Dr. Lewis of the Faculty of Basic Education at the University of Duhok said. "Kurdish leadership has been respecting these principles and working hard to emphasize them," he confirmed. "It is not the Armenians alone who feel safe, but every one in Kurdistan feels safe and sound, and hopes for a prosperous future."

According to Dr. Lewis, "Sectarian conflict has changed the social structure of Iraq; but Kurdistan Region has promoted its racial and ethnic diversity, and worked in accordance with the Constitution so that all groups can assure their rights - cultural and political."

Ms. Polis, another Armenian, believes that "it is not the Armenians alone who want to live in peace and prosperity, but everyone else in Kurdistan, too."

"Our neighbors are all of different cultures, but they all respect us," she says, referring to neighborhood where she lives. "There is friendship among Muslims, Christians, Armenians and Ezidis, and I believe the future is going to improve."

Tranick Hartean, 46, believes that Kurdistan is becoming home to co-existence and religious tolerance. He hopes that everyone will continue to work towards understanding among Muslims, Christians, Chaldo-Assyrians and Armenians and all other religious sects for "every society to enjoy their rights."

In Kurdistan, most Armenians feel they have their rights guaranteed. "The services provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government make us, Armenians, feel that we have our rights granted to us," says Khalatiyan. "That is in spite of the fact that we know we have our own country - Armenia." He added, "What we receive here is indisputable evidence - we are all equal here."

The rule of law must prevail, Dr. Lewis believes. "The most important case here is the rule of law," he says. "Kurdistan Region has become part the Western world and civilization at which people view with respect the majority push towards this direction; it is a civilized trait."

It is worth mentioning that most Armenians fled Turkey during the massacres committed against them during WWI. They resettled, mostly, in Shingal, Zakho, Mosul and Duhok. The Church Virgin Marry for Armenians was built in 1923. Today, there are many pictures hanged on the walls; telling the stories of the Armenian Genocide.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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