Children are forbidden to go to school in Armenia: 'You are Yezidis, you do not need to study!'

  14 September 2018    Read: 2037
Children are forbidden to go to school in Armenia:

The Council of Europe's Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) published a report on Armenia in March, 2017.

In accordance with the report, FCNM recommended that Armenia needs to make more efforts to ensure access to education for all, especially for the Yezidi children, among whom the dropout rates remain high. More than a year has passed since that time. Residents of Ferik community of Armavir Marz, Armenia have addressed a letter to Arayik Harutyunyan, Minister of Education and Science with a demand to dismiss the head principal of the school. The letter is published by website.
Note that the majority of the population of the village of Ferik are Yezidi Kurds and the complaint about school head is related to the nationality of the school children. Thus, the residents express dissatisfaction with the activity of the school's director, Levon Poghosyan. It is more than 30 years that the school is headed by Levon Poghosyan. The letter noted the village has not produced a single university student during the recent 30 years.

“Activities necessary to engage children into the educational process are often not held at the school, the teachers frequently disregard children and humiliate their dignity. The classes are not held fully, often times classes are missed out. Children are called names, such as imbeciles, illiterate, teachers declare that as Yezidi children they don’t need to study, there are teachers who show up to work having consumed alcohol, the head principal and his teacher fellows frequently organize parties at the school and consume alcohol in the presence of the children.”, the letter reads.

Being concerned about the low quality of education, parents require changing the teaching staff and director.

On September 1, they began to hold a protest action demanding the dismissal of the school principal.  Protests stopped after residents meeting with the governed on September 4. However, on September 10, the teaching staff began to put pressure on children.

As reports, the teachers did not allow the children to enter the school, saying that they do not intend to teach them. Rubik Khachatryan, a teacher of history, chess, social studies, technology, forbade children to stay in school, saying: "Go and let your Yezidis teach you. We will not do this until you have withdrawn the complaint against the director. Go away and do not come to school anymore. "

One of the teachers, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Pogosyan forces them not to teach: "The principal and his companion Khachatryan make us not to teach children. There were financial abuses at school, and they are afraid that if Pogosyan leaves, it will be revealed. We are not pleased that we do not have to let the children into the class. "
For years, human rights activists have alarmed that the Yezidi Kurds living in rural areas do not receive school education. The obstacle for this is the traditions of the Yezidi Kurds encouraging early marriages. In addition, because of economic difficulties, boys in Kurdish families instead of studying help their families financially or go to work in Russia.
However, those children from Kurdish families who study in schools face religious discrimination. The fact is that the subject "History of the Armenian Church" is taught in all schools of Armenia. This rule applies to children from Kurdish families who are forced to pray before the beginning of the lesson. Thus, many young Kurds are separated from their religion - Yezidism.

Even in 2015, a religious scandal erupted in Armenia over the answer of the Ararat Eparchy of the Armenian Apostolic Church to the question: "What kind of religion do the Yezidis profess, and can an Armenian girl marry with Yezidi?"

In response, it was noted that the Yezidis worship the Sun and they have a statue of Satan in the sanctuary, which drew the indignation among  Kurds professing Yezidism. 
Additionally, the most pressing problem for the Yezidi Kurds is the issue of national identity. Despite the fact that Yezidi is a religious denomination, and not a nation, their belonging of its people to the Kurds and its language as Kurdish is not recognized in Armenia. Although the well-known researcher Solomon Yeghiazarov noted that "the Yezidis are Kurds in the full sense of the word" (Egiazarov, S. A brief ethnographic sketch of the Kurds of Erevan province., 1891. p. 180).

Official circles of Armenia also do not recognize Yezidis’ belonging to the Kurds. Thus, they prevent the establishment of ties between the Yezidis and Kurds living in neighboring countries. Even in 2002, the Armenian parliament adopted a resolution declaring the Yezidis as non-Kurds.

Earlier, the Statistical Body of Armenia began to indicate Yezidis as a separate nation in its reports. The Armenian parliament, along with the Kurdish language, also recognized the "Yezidi language" as a separate language of the national minority. Based on this legislative document, Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia began the publication of textbooks of the "Yezidi language" began which was written incorrectly. Therefore, Kurdish villages refused to use those textbooks.

Thus, the Armenian authorities deliberately infringe upon the rights of the Kurdish Yezidis. Living among such anti-Kurdish propaganda, reading textbooks prepared by Armenian scientists, they can forget about their Kurdish roots and gradually get assimilated into the Armenians. The aggravation of the economic situation of the Yezidis, made some of them choose Christianity, with the aim of obtaining humanitarian aid.

In addition, the state does not encourage the Yezidi Kurds to receive education. And the illiterate Yezidis are deprived of the opportunity to get a decent job and get settled in the cities. They live in villages and get engaged in agriculture. 
And the current situation in the school of Ferik village is a logical continuation of a long-term policy of the Armenian authorities. The ultimate goal is to weaken the Kurdish community of Armenia.

In this regard, one can recall the Associate Professor of the Department of Iranian Studies of the Yerevan State University, Victoria Arakelova’s words, cited in the newspaper Golos Armenii in issue No. 139 of December 26, 2006. She explains the question about the Yezidis: ‘It was thanks to the efforts of the Armenian orientalists that the Yezidis were recognized as a separate ethno-confessional group. Later it was recognized at the international level. And it happened not because of politicians and fighters for the rights of national minorities, but thanks to the efforts of Armenian orientalist scholars. However, this has become an important factor in ensuring national security and prevented a threat to become a country with a "Kurdish factor’.

These words of Arakelova are direct evidence of a purposeful policy of Armenia with infringement of the rights of national minorities, started back in the Soviet period with the expulsion of Azerbaijanis living there. Despite the statements by Armenian PM, Nikol Pashinyan on democratic development of a country, such practice still continues.


Zaur Nurmammadov 

More about: Yezidis   Armenia