He didn’t know that he was Armenian…

mushI had heard a lot about Armenians who became Islamized as a result of the Genocide, but I had never met any of them. Little did I know that I would meet one of them someday and in Armenia.

I met Ibrahim during the 6th Pan-Armenian Games. A mutual acquaintance of ours told me that he was of Armenian descent, and I decided to meet him. Ibrahim was moved when he found out that I wanted to talk to him, especially when he found out that I was from Artsakh.

Ibrahim lives in Mush. He is married with three children. As he told me, he found out that he was Armenian a couple of years ago. “We have always lived as Kurds. My parents never told me that we were Armenian. Perhaps they were afraid, or they kept silent for another reason.

But the elder Kurds of Mush know very well the origin and history of each person in Mush. By chance I found out from them that my parents are Armenian, and when I asked my parents, they didn’t deny it,” Ibrahim said, adding that he has also found out that his ancestors left Sasun for Mush. To survive the Genocide, they converted to Islam and lived as Kurds.

Ibrahim speaks Kurdish and only knows some words in Armenian that he has learned on his own. He had a translator, who was from Istanbul and knew Armenian very well.

“My grandfather’s name was Sako Sargsyan. I was shocked when I found out about my origin. I couldn’t believe it. I decided to search for Armenians and learn Armenian,” said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim was told that there was a Taron-Mush Armenian Union in Mush and he joined the Union, which is called for bringing the local Armenians together, helping them preserve their identity and providing those lacking knowledge of Armenian and Armenian history with the opportunity to learn the history and language. Ibrahim learned Armenian for the first time and now knows a couple of words and sentences in Armenian.

The Taron-Mush Union participated in the Pan-Armenian Games with a football team, and Ibrahim was a member of the team. “True, the team didn’t win, but I’m happy that I visited Armenia for the first time ever. I visited the temple in Garni and Geghard Monastery, which left a great impression on me. It’s hard for me to hide my feelings. That’s our history, and it’s also my history and the history of people like me. I didn’t know about it, and I just discovered it for myself…”

Ibrahim says there are many Islamized and crypto Armenians in Mush and that he knows most of them. Most of them have discovered their Armenian identity just recently because their forefathers hadn’t told them about it. “It’s very hard to preserve the Armenian identity among the Kurds,” said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim has two paternal uncles, and his elder uncle is 125 years old. “When I found out that I was Armenian, I asked my uncle, and he told me that he had witnessed the Genocide and remembered how the Turks would kill, rob and destroy everything,” said Ibrahim and added: “Perhaps such Armenians were saved by a miracle, but you can’t blame them. They were forced to live as crypto Armenians.”

Ibrahim didn’t talk a lot. It appeared that he was nervous because he wasn’t able to communicate in Armenian. He said nothing will ever separate him from Armenia and that next time he would come with his wife and children.

Hermine Avagyan

aparaj.am

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