Assyrian-Kurdish massacres with Ottoman blessing

The Assyrians are an isolated sect in the Hakaria region, a part of Armenia that was a haven for nomadic tribes. It is an area that separates the Semites in the south and the Armenians of the Aryan race in the north, and it is a region in which there are many mountains that are naturally isolated from the surrounding areas.

This sect achieved independence from any authority and was isolated from the world. During the time of the Ottoman Empire, an Ottoman employee travelled in the year 1251 AH / 1835 AD moving from Mosul to Istanbul on an administrative mission through Diyarbakir Road, and took an unusual path. This employee was astonished when he found people in completely isolated areas. They were very surprised by him, because he was taking bumpy paths in which he did not expect to see residents, and they let him pass and did not harm him. ​Although he mentioned to them that he is a Muslim and that he is an employee under the Ottoman authority, yet he did not feel that they understood anything.

When the employee arrived in Van (Kurdish: Parezgêha Wanê), he asked the city’s governor about that strange area of his city, and the governor told him that he had never seen a person come down from the mountains of that area from the plains of Assyria in the south of Armenia. It was a station for the Assyrian tribes, and they were Christians who had no known sect and had been isolated in the mountains since ancient times.

Abdulaziz Al-Shennawi states in his book (The Ottoman Empire is an Islamic State that is slandered): The Assyrian relations with their Kurdish neighbors are one of entrenched hostility. Here, his description of the severity and intensity of the hostility is noted.

He also states that there were many massacres between them because of the difference in creed and religious fanaticism, not to mention the stubbornness of the two sides. The greatest reason was the Kurdish presence west of Hakaria, the homeland of the Assyrians, and that presence was the cause of those massacres!!

He asserts that the Ottoman Empire did not take any action towards those massacres, even though it considered itself the protector of sects and their plurality within the state and their patronage, the most severe of which were throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He identifies important dates through the resources, especially in 1812, 1843, 1845 AD, and the last of which was during the Ottomans’ time in 1908 AD, when the Kurds launched a massive attack on them.

It is noteworthy that the Christianization that came to the Ottoman Empire allowed them to communicate with the Assyrians, so the schism between them increased, and the Ottomans left the chasm deepen rather than intervening as their protectors to resolve the conflict and prevent the unlawful slaughter of innocents. Here, Al-Shennawi clarifies a fact that has been forgotten in the history books and passed unfairly: “The Ottoman Empire was comfortable with the massacres and losses carried out by the Kurds against the Assyrians because it felt that the latter sympathized with Russia, Britain and France thanks to the propaganda that these countries were spreading among them. This matter was one of the state’s shortcomings, whether the killing of the Assyrians or its failure to win public opinion to stand by it in the event of an impending war”.

Therefore, the Ottoman Empire made the Kurds preoccupied with the Assyrians and ignored the matter to gain its expansionist interests, and not to engage in any military clashes that cost many European countries, but rather granted privileges and appeased them.

The situation of the Kurds was not well in the era of the modern Turkish Republic, as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s treachery and exploitation of the Kurds was complementary to those who preceded him, after he benefited from them in the war of independence and the liberation of Turkey. In his book “Atatürk”, Ilber Ortayli only doubts that Mustafa Kemal had promised the Kurds autonomy during the war years. He says: “General statements cannot be accepted as serious promises”. This is a policy of evasion that brings interests at the expense of helpless peoples, and that is their responsibility as well.