the

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on

the

Hemorandu

Claims

Kurd People

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of TCUsconain
PRESENTED BY

W. L.

WESTCRMANN

the

the

Memorandum on

ol

\m

Kurd People

IMPRIMERIE A.-G. L'HOIR
^6,

Claims

rue du Delta,

PARIS
1919

26

A*

Memorandum
On the Claims of the Kurd People

Now that the excessively imperialistic claims of Armenia
are officially known, 1 may venture to define more accura
tely before the Peace Conference the legitimate claims of the
Kurd Nation.

The frontiers of Turkish Kurdistan, from an ethnogra
phical point of view, begin : in the North at Ziven, on the
Caucasian

frontier

and continue

westwards

to Erzeroum

Erzindjian, Kemah, Arabkir, Behismi,and Divick ; in the South
they follow the line Haran, the Sindjihar Hills, Tel Asfar,

Erbil, Kerkuk, Suleimanie, Akk-el-man, Sinna; in the East
Ravandiz, Bash-Kale, Vizir-Kale, that is to say the frontier of
Persia as far as Mount Ararat.
From the remotest periods of history these tracts have
been occupied by the Kurds under various names, and for
the last thirteen hundred years under that of Kurds.
Up to the time of its voluntary submission to the Sultan
Selim the First, Kurdistan was composed of forty-six independant principalities : Diarbekir, Dinver, Charry Soul, Ler,
Ardial Hakkri, Emadia, Kurkel, Finck, Hassan, Kef, Tchemush, Guerzek, Mirdasi, Ekil, Sassour, -Hezan, Kilis, Sherouan, Derzini, Erdikan Hak, Terquel, Sueydi, Suleimanie,

- 4

Sahran

Terkour-Kalai,

Daoud.

Pelinkan,

Bitlis,

Bouhtan, etc., were under the sway of these
Kurd principalities.
Mommsen,

independent

Armenia
between the sources of the Euphrates and of the Tiger and
that of the Kur.
his

in

History of Rome

Garzan,

places

«

A

:

it,

Nuttall's English Encyclopedia is even more explicit, as
the following extract, taken textually from
will show
Armenia,
country in the West of Asia, to the West of
a

the Caspian Sea, to the north of the mountains of Kurdistan,
divided between Turkey, Russia and Persia, occupying
plain furrowed by the fertile valleys which culminate in

Mount Ararat ». This would seem to indicate clearly enough
to what spoiler of their territories they
should address themselves instead of displaying an unwarran
table covetousness towards countries essentially Kurd.
to the Armenians

This was written

Turks and Persians.
in

rate state, against the

»

a

a

«

In those valleys where they are grouped into compact
tribes, notably in the basin of the Great Zab, they form
nationality sufficiently powerful to hold its own, as
sepa

.

a

it

a

in

is

included
With regard to that part of Kurdistan which
in the vilayet of Erzerum, we may appeal to the authority of
the great geographer Elisha Reclus, who has established
his great work the general outlines of the regions which, in
Kurdistan justified by its territories and
his opinion, form
our duty to draw the
Kurdish majority. We feel
by
attention of those, who have generously accepted the task
of remapping the globe on the basis of nationality, to the
words of this great geographer.

i884.

of course, come forward at the
conference itself. Nevertheless, would ask your permission
may,

to point out emphatically, that

if

I

Other authorities

those districts where the

Kurds are in

majority are to be included in the New
Armenia, regardless of their warlike spirit and jealousy of
independence, there cannot be the slightest doubt that a
chronic state of disorder will reign in Armenia, unless the
a

Allies are prepared to occupy the country indefinitely with a
strong army, and even then they would be subject to all the
attacks of guerilla warfare.
For proof of their right to a Greater Armenia the Arme
nians hark back to the reign ofTigran, 5o years before Christ,
when there existed a kingdom of Armenia, but they forget,
conveniently, to add that its territories, which in reality
belonged to the Roman Empire, were all reconquered by
Pompey during the life of this very Tigran.
account, look
greater Armenia as the ethnical cradle of their race.
They

cannot,

therefore

on

this

upon

The/ Armenians and their advocates attempt to establish
the justice of their claims by emphasising the existence of
some few thousand Armenian

inhabitants in Kurdistan. In

answer to this we shall simply quote the evidence of Nuttall
once more : « The Armenians », he says, « have always,
from the earliest times, emigrated into adjacent countries.

Like the Jews they limit themselves to commercial enter
prises and are for the most part bankers. The Kurds do not
to deny that, guided by their commercial instinct,
the present small minority of Armenians in Kurdistan has
at all seek

wide and profitable field for its energies, and it
is evident that they have chosen voluntarily to emigrate
towards Kurdistan. »
It is precisely the same instinct which to-day has led
them to seek life in the towns, neglecting almost wholly
found there

a

agriculture.

of our statements with regard to this mino
rity the most recent official evidence emanating from Turkey
In support

6

and the European Powers can be quoted. After the treaty

of

composed of the late British General
Baker Pasha the late Said Pasha, president of the Ottoman
Council of State, as well as Minas Effendi an Armenian
Berlin

a

commission

notable, was sent to Kurdistan, in order to conduct a census

of the population.
We will give, as a single example, the census carried out
in the province of Diarbekir, which showed a result of
84o.ooo inhabitants, of whom 6oo.ooo were Musulmans,
and 24o.ooo Christians or Jews.
In i895 Prince Lobanoff, Russian Minister for Foreign
Affairs, the last person one could accuse of being Kurdophile, officially affirmed the minority of the Armenians in the
whole Ottoman Empire.
In the course

of

a debate

in the French

Chamber

of

Deputies, on Nov. 3 rd i896 (reported in the Journal Officiel
of the 4 th Nov. i896, pages i557-i358) on the Armenian
question, which was to the fore at that time, the Minister
for Foreign Affairs made the following declaration : « In the
Turkish Provinces, which alone are under consideration at
population, according to the
statistics which we have in our hands, certainly does not
exceed i3 o/o of the inhabitants. Further, their distribution
in the Asiatic vilayets is irregular, being at times comparati
vely dense, at others, thinly scattered. In a word one fails to
the present time, the Armenian

discern a single spot where this unhappy population are
really in a majority, or where they can form a centre round
which a certain autonomy might operate. »

Finally, in order to further demonstrate the soundness
of the Kurd claims, we take the following extracts from a
handbook drawn up by the Russian Staff and distributed
confidentially to a few personalities only, whose discretion
was above suspicion, and written in the sole interests of the

Russian army and politics. On] this account, precisely, this
nandbook has a neutral character as far as the Kurds and
Armenians are concerned, its object being to furnish strictly
secret information. In speaking of Van and Bitlis, the two
areas « eminently Armenian

» according to the pretensions

of the Armenians, the author say textually : « In these two
vilayets of Turkey in Asia, the Kurds are more numerous
than the Armenians. At Van there are 46 o/o of Kurds
against 26 o/o of Armenians, at Bitlis 55 o/o of Kurds against
39 of Armenians. In these two vilayets the Turks, who are
are of the same religion as the Kurds, are not counted. In
the district of Van and Mouche, only, are the Kurds and
Armenians nearly equal from the standpoint of population.
In the district of Bitlis there are 5o o/o of Kurds and 4o o/o

As for the other districts, the Kurds are many
times more numerous than the Armenians. In short, in no
matter what district, the Armenians fail to attain the half
of the population. The Kurds form at Hakari 56 o/o, at
Sihirt 6o o/o, at Gentch 79 o/o of the population. In the
latter districts the Kurd majority is so manifest that the
Armenians who live there can speak no other language but
Kurd. Even in the vilayets of Van and Bitlis there are regions
where the Armenian tongue is known only to the clergy.
As for the distribution of religions in these two vilayets the
results are as follows : In the districts of Van there are 54 o/o
of Musulmans, 43 o/o of Christians and 3o o/o of ther reli
gions. In the district of Hakari, there are 56 o/o of Musul
mans, 43 o/o of Christians, and i o/ of other religions.
Armenians.

of Bitlis, in the district of Bitlis, the are
6o o/o of Musulmans and 4o o/o of Christians.
At Mouche there are 5i o/o Musulmans, 48 o/o Christians
and i o/o of other religions. Sihirt counts 65 o/o Musulmans
34 o/o of Christians and i o/o of other religions.
In the vilayet

10

At Ghench there are 69 o/o of Musulmans, 2o o/o of
Christians and one o/o of other religions.
To conclude, out of 32 cazas which compose the vilayets
of Van and Bitlis, there are only eight where the majority of
the people belong to the Christian faith. In the others, the
majority is formed by Musulmans » (i).

All these official statements,

made at a time when tragic

events had roused the sympathy of the whole of Europe in
favour of the Armenians, prove eloquently enough that the
latter have never possessed the slightest majority in any part
of the Ottoman Empire; and for the same reason, clearly,
they cannot have possessed 'a majority in Kurdistan either,
since it formed an integral part of the Ottoman Empire at
that time.
Further, as a final proof of the manifest majority of the

Kurds in these districts

I

must add that alone in these two

vilayets the so-called Hamidies or regiments of cavalry still
exist, formed by the following tribes : Haidaranli (chief,
Mehmed Sadik bey), Shavli (Djafer bey), Adamanli (Ali bey),
Mocouri (Ibrahim bey), Milan (Mehmed s bey), Shemsiki
(Sadik bey), Shekian (Sheref bey), Adomanli (Suleiman bey),
Hasnanly (Fetoullah bey), Djebranli (Ibrahim bey), Takouri
(Hussein bey), Ertoche (Hassan bey), Adamanli (Oushan bey),
Penian Loutfoullah bey), Sheidanli (Eumer bey, Allashe and
Haidaranli (Hadji Demir pasha).

The tribe of Haidaranli which forms six regiments

of

cavalry, occupies a district lying between the east shore of
lake Van and the western part of the Aladar Mountains.
There is yet another tribe called Haidaranli, the so-called

Cavalry

Commander,

Van and Bitlis translated from
attached to the

Military Press, Constantinople

Staff

i330 (1914).

Doudak,
the

Information

Russia

Malazgert
by

Statistics

of

(1)

Ahaza Haidaranli, which inhabits

Department

Mehemed

and

Sadik bey,

of the General Staff.

Herdishe; the second in order of magnitude is the Hasnanli
tribe, which lies in the direction of Malazge: t Boulanikh and
Hins. and forms five regiments, of which three dwell in the
vilayet of Bitlis; the third in the same order is the Hidmanlilar tribe, in the walley of the Zeilan river. The tribe of
Djebranli forms two regiments and lives in the caza of
Vartou. The other tribes are comparatively less numerous,
forming only one regiment each. The Shanli tribe inhabits
the eastern shore of lake Van, that of Takouri the town of
Serai and the caza of Mahmoudie on the Persian frontier.
The Milanli tribe lives also on the same frontier, slightly
further to the west. The Mocouri tribe is also in the same
region. The Shemsighi trib is found in the caza of Mahmou
die and Hamidie. While that of Shekiah inhabits the caza
Alpak, situated on the upper reaches of the Zab river; that
of Sheidanli, the caza of Hamidie and Nourchen, that of
Aladje, Malasgerte and Erdjiche.
Besides these principal tribes there are still

others

of

secondary importance which also form regiments in these
districts.
All these tribes, in spite of the exceptionnally tolerant
regime to which they are subjected, have never permitted
their chiefs to make the slightest concession to the govern
ments with regard to their independence, so inflexibly jealous
does their somewhat fierce nature become when their natio
nal traditions and their independence is at stake.
Even with the help of a European power, it would be ra
ther vain on the part of the Armenian minority to hope to
dominate this warlike and numerically superior element.
When the missionaries in obedience to their religion
entered Kurdistan for the first time they began by trying to
convert the Kurds, but very soon, convinced of the fruitlessness of their efforts, they directed their attention to the
instruction of the Christian sects in Kurdistan.

Among these the orthodox Armenians were easiest

to

convert and soon the missionary schools were filled with
Armenian pupils. In the hope of rousing them to a higher
consciouness the missionaries spoke to them of the history

of Tigran, dwelling on his conquests and his ancient king
dom. Asa result of this education, saturated with patriotic
sentiments, the first ideas of independence were awakened
in the Armenians, without anyone being able to foresee, of
course, the importance of this movement and the conse
quences to which it might lead.

With regard to this question of the missionaries, 1 will
have recourse once again to the Russian Staff handbook
which I have already mentioned, and of which the following
extracts are taken

:

In the vilayets of Van, catholic and protestant missio
naries have been established for the last thirty years in
the more important centres and in the towns of Van and
Bitlis. Among them predominate the Americans, who have
conducted religious propaganda and succoured the poor,
irrespective of their race or religion. Their schools are the
best organised. In those of the missionaries in Van and
Bitlis, there are departments where the different industries
and trade are taught. And it is curious to notice that the
American schools, frequented by Armenian students are
those to produce the hottest revolutionnaries and the cleve
rest propagandists in the world. Altough the Americans
have been prodigal of generosities of all kinds towards the
Armenians, the latter do not like them.
«

Impelled by his commercial and grasping nature to exact
always more than his due, the Armenia now demands much
more than he is entitled to. The ancient kingdom of Armenia
now seems too small for him, and clinging to the memory
of the short-lived conquest of his famous Tigran, he desires
to take possession of that vast portion of Kurdistan which
was annexed to Asia Minor.
Under the pressure of the repeated

European

interven-

lions which were provoked

regime, the
Ottoman government had judged advisable to permit discon
tented Armenians to leave the country and abandon Arme
by the

Hamidian

nian nationality.
Thereupon thousands of Armenians emigrated towards
the territories of there ancient kingdom, which at the time
of the congress of Berlin had been allotted to the Empire of
the Tzars. As it happened the majority of the emigrants
sold their land to Kurds, some of them even abandoning
them without more ado. According to the Ottoman law,
those lands which are left uncultivated by their proprietors
during a period of three years, are liable to seizure and sale
by the government, and thus it is that those which the
Armenians had abandoned were sold to the Kurds.
After the proclamation of the Constitution the Armenian
refugees in Russia, finding the rule of the Tzars even more
severe than that of Turkey, profited by the general amnesty
to quickly regain their native country, demanding from the
government the restitution of their lands, to the prejudice of
the new Kurdish proprietors.
representations of European
diplomacy, the government was again obliged to give way,
but the Kurds, indignant at such flagrant iniquity, brought
all their forces to bear in opposition to this procedure.

Owing to the exaggerated

were nominated for
Asia Minor, and Kurdistan, with the mission to settle this
dispute, when the world-war broke-out.
Special

European

Commissioners

All this goes to prove clearly that the majority of the
Armenians resident in Kurdistan had left this country of
their own accord, and therefore that, juridically, they have
no right to claim these territories.

If a strong majority

has found itself powerless to govern

a

minority to its satisfaction, can it be hoped that the Arme
nian minority will be able to assume the direction and admi

- 14

nistration of a race superior to itself in numbers, and so
jealous of its independence as is the Kurd race ?
In any case a mixed European commission will have to
examine the question of the purchase of landed estate proved
to belong to Armenians resident in Kurdish territories who
are desirous of emigrating into Armenia, on condition,
always, that the consent of the Kurds be obtained to
whatever agreements are made, and the same facilities
offered to them by the commission.
In virtue of the Wilsonian principale everything pleads
in favour of the Kurds for the creation of a Kurd state,
entirely free and independent.
Since the Ottoman Government has accepted Mr Wilson's
fourteen points without reservation, the Kurds believe that
they have every right to demand their independence, and
that without in any way failing in loyalty towards the Empire
under whose sovreignty they have lived for many centuries,
keeping intact their customs and traditions.
Thus, to resume the Kurd claims which follow from the
forego ing-considerations :
We protest energetically against the pretensions of the
Americans with regard to Kurdistan, which, as defined by
the frontiers which we shall indicate in a map, later on,
should remain to the Kurds.

The national wealth of the Kurds being almost entirely
derived from cattle-raising which requires, on account of
the climate, Winter and Summer pastures, we urgently
reguest that these pastures shall not remain outside the
frontiers assigned to Kurdistan.
Finally we demand, that independence which is our

birthright, and which alone will permit us to fight our way
along the road of progress and civilization, to turn to account
the resources of our country and to live in peace with our
neighbours.
Furthermore

we beg the Peace Conference

to name an

— i5 —

international commission, charged with tracing the frontier
line in accordance with the principe of nationality so as to
include in Kurdistan all those territories where the Kurds
are in a majority; on the clear understanding, that if in the
districts alloted to Kurdistan, sufficiently large agglomera
tions of other national'. ies be found, provision shall be made
for them in a special statute in conformity with their natio
nal traditions.
Full of hope in the justice of the Congress, we entrust it
with the life and 'future of a very ancient race, which is
determined to renew its youth, if only it be accorded the
necessary latitude.
General SHER.1F PASHA,
President of the Kurd Delegation
to the Peace Conference.

Paris, March 22nd i9i9.
2o, avenue de Messine

B89089959548A

b89089959548a