Meeting the Armenian MP of Iraqi Kurdistan

By Hamo Moskofian, Dhok, Iraqi Kurdistan, 3 November 2013

In late October we met, at the St. Nerses Shnorhali Church of Dhok*, Iraqi Kurdistan, Yervant Aminian, the newly-elected Iraqi Kurdistan member of parliament. We were introduced to this talented, highly cultured, kind and young architect during our first journalistic mission to Kurdistan. Mr Aminian had not only constructed the Armenian church, but also the “Ararat” wedding hall, the pastor's residence, the Armenian club, a series of building complexes for the United Nations and the Municipality of Dhok.

Dhok (Duhok, Dohuk) Dam & Surrounding

Dhok is considered the most beautiful modern city in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is one of the bustling modern cities of the region. Most of the Armenians in this part of Iraqi Kurdistan are from Zakho, Hawrez and Awzrouk. They are descendants of the 1915 Armenian Genocide survivors who were protected by Kurdish tribal leaders Shandin Beg, Hmo Shro, Jahangiz Agha and others.

By Hamo Moskofian, Dhok, Iraqi Kurdistan, 3 November 2013

In late October we met, at the St. Nerses Shnorhali Church of Dhok*, Iraqi Kurdistan, Yervant Aminian, the newly-elected Iraqi Kurdistan member of parliament. We were introduced to this talented, highly cultured, kind and young architect during our first journalistic mission to Kurdistan. Mr Aminian had not only constructed the Armenian church, but also the “Ararat” wedding hall, the pastor's residence, the Armenian club, a series of building complexes for the United Nations and the Municipality of Dhok.

Dhok (Duhok, Dohuk) Dam & Surrounding

Dhok is considered the most beautiful modern city in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is one of the bustling modern cities of the region. Most of the Armenians in this part of Iraqi Kurdistan are from Zakho, Hawrez and Awzrouk. They are descendants of the 1915 Armenian Genocide survivors who were protected by Kurdish tribal leaders Shandin Beg, Hmo Shro, Jahangiz Agha and others.

Armenians such as Mr. Aminian and his predecessor Kurdistan MP Aram Shahin Bakoyan have lived and prospered here since 1919. Many of them had emigrated through the help of Levon Pasha, after the fall of the first Armenian Republic. Many villagers re-emigrated to Soviet Armenia in 1947, while others recently received the new Republic of Armenia passports which they proudly carry in an area which was once Western Armenia, Kurdistan, Assyria.

On Oct. 26, our drivers took us on a three-hour drive from Ankawa-Erbil to Dhok to meet Mr. Aminian. We were warmly welcomed by the parliamentarian and Mr. Vartkes Sarkisian, a scholar, lecturer at several institutions of Kurdish language and literature.

Hovsep Ashjian, the Lebanese-Armenian tourist company founder who was in the group, could not believe that in such a remote part of the Middle East another Armenia exists, with such proud, friendly, hospitable, patriotic compatriots, who can speak only Kurdish and Arabic, understand very little of their mother tongue, but have been the defenders of our “fortress” for decades.

Our hosts took us on a sightseeing tour of Dhok, including the old Armenian quarter, Assyrian and Syriac churches, to mosques, Yezidi shrines, and to the Dhok Dam and waterfall. It was noticeable that our hosts are well known and respected by the Kurdish elite and the military “peshmerga”. They consider the Armenians their brothers and allies.

"We always had a very strong presence in Dhok and in the region. We are considered a talented and hard-working people, trustworthy and courageous who played a great role in developing Kurdistan,” said Aminian over the lunch.  “It’s true that Kurdish-Armenian relations during history were not always easy, but today the Democratic Party of Kurdistan and President Masoud Barzani are doing everything to make Armenians feel as if they are in their homeland!”

Now that he is an MP, Mr. Aminian's life will be complicated. In addition to his duties at the parliament in Erbil, he along with his fellow MPs from Dhok, will try to solve the problems of his constituency and that of Armenians of Kurdistan. We wish him success in his commitment for a better society, and in building bridges with Armenia and the Diaspora, as he promised.

* Dhok – other variations are Duhok & Dohuk.

 

7 comments
  1. Encouraging, Inspiring

    Encouraging,inspiring and mind-provoking reporting. Thanks. It is apparent that there is goodwill on the part of the Kurds towards us, Armenians, and that there will be more rapprochement between the two of our peoples from now on.

    Next, I trust same will be established with the Hemshentsi and Dersim´s Alevi Islams. The latter two segments of our brethren/sisters are also by and by emerging from under a fascist regime, having been  long silenced. This, after Hrant Dink´s murder.

    We need  journalists without frontiers, such as Mr. Moskofian.

    Kudos to him and company.

  2. The Armenian Iraqi Kurds

    My father, an orphan at the Araratian Orphanage, found his aunt (Horakuyr) at the Kurdish-Iraqi village of Zakho. The orphanage then moved to Mosul, later to Baghdad and finally to Palestine. In the 1940s, my father's cousin–Khanemeh–went to Zakho and met many former Sghertsis, among them my father's cousins Gro Krikorian and Shahinian. Unfortunately, they only knew Kurdish and some Arabic. Their children went to Armenian schools and were named Vartan, Andranik, Serop, etc. After Israel occupied Palestine, and we ended up in the United States, we lost our contact with them. 
     

    1. Yerwant Aminian

      Thank you for your inspiring and encouraging comments! We can find your "lost" relatives in Zakho, Dhok and Erbil if you provide some details or come for a real "pilgrimage" to Kurdistan, Iraq. It's a completely safe state. We have hundreds of powerful friends to help us, thanks to Keghart.com, Tidag, RAG Mamoul, and AZG which have printed my articles, thus shedding a bright light on the reality of life today and not dwelling on the past suffering because of the memories of the dark history. With journalists like me, or friends like Jirair Tutunjian, Dr. Dikran Abrahamian, Dr. Sam Racoubian, and Dr. Minas Kojayian supporting my every move to the "unknown" to illuminate the unknown era, we can realise miracles together with mass support.
      Hamo Moskofian

  3. It’s Very Important

    Dear Hamo,

    It's very important mission to publish articles about optimism and the beauty of Iraq. I am proud to study the Armenian culture.

  4. Newsworthy Report

    This report was another enlightening news from Hamo Moskofian, our Diaspora-wide roaming reporter.  It also refreshed memories in me of bygone days having known Levon Pasha while he stayed at Hotel Lux in Beirut.

  5. Whereabouts of My Sister’s Family

    I am looking for the family of Varoujan Kegham Sahagian from the Al Ghadeer district of Baghdad. If you have any idea about their whereabouts, please contact me. Thank you.

     

    1. Found my sister’s family in Ainkawa

      I found out that my sister's family is in Ainkawa, Kurdistan. Can anyone furnish more details please? Thank you.

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