The Google Map shows (with red pins) some of the more notable places in which Kurds lived during the short-lived “Red Kurdistan” of 1923-1929 and, of course, both long before and after. The Kurds of this area, approximating to the Lachin corridor and its extensions north and south, were notable for being Shiites (rather than Sunni Muslims). Over time, they started to assimilate into the Azerbaijani population and speak Azerbaijani rather than Kurmanji (only 8.3% of Kurds were recorded as Kurmanji speakers at the time of the Soviet census of 1926).
Most of the Kurdish communities became unfortunate collateral damage during the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict of the early 1990s and many of the villages were completely destroyed by the Armenians – only the shells of buildings can be seen in satellite imagery. The local Kurds were internally displaced to Baku, Ağcabädi and elsewhere within Azerbaijan.
The map also shows (with green pins) the smaller number of Kurdish communities in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan.
This Google Map shows the traditional areas of Yezidi population in Kurdistan.
Blue pins show villages in the districts of Badinan or Sheikhan and Dohuk. Red pins show villages in the Sinjar district.
Note that some of the settlements shown are the collective villages or mujamma’at into which Yezidis were forced under the Baathist regime. The others are the villages that survived the Iraqi state-sponsored destruction of Yezidi communities in 1957, 1969, 1975 and 1987/1988 during the Anfal and its precursors.
Place names are approximate transliterations; known variant spellings can be seen by clicking on a pin. This will sometimes also show a brief note on the community. For instance, if one clicks on the pin for Behzani, it will be seen that its name can also be transliterated as Bahzan, Behzan and Behzane, and that this Arabic-speaking village is, with its neighbouring village of Bashiqe, the traditional source of the Yezidi religious singers or qewels.
This map was first published by bluebirdresearch in 2010/11. Since then the genocidal actions of the Islamic supremacists of ISIS have led to the destruction of Yezidis and their villages especially in Sinjar, with associated displacement to refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region and further afield.
The Armenians, the Assyrians and the Greeks were not the only nationalities to be largely removed from Asia Minor as Turkey aggressively redefined itself as a single-nation state in the post-Ottoman era. The Yezidis (Yazidis) – Kurds with their own distinctive non-Islamic religion – have also disappeared, either being killed or converted to Islam, assimilating into the Kurdish population, or crossing the border into the Republic of Armenia (in more recent times, many have emigrated to continental Europe, particularly to Germany).
The Google Map shows the location of the former Yezidi villages of the Kars oblast or province of the Russian Empire circa 1910 before it was re-taken by the Turks after the end of WW1. During the Russian era (1878-1918), the distinctiveness of the Yezidi was recognised and these villages constituted their own administrative district or okrug. Many had arrived in the region during the 1880s, having been displaced from further west in Anatolia. The Yezidi population of Kars oblast was approximately 2,386 in 1892.
A version of this blog post and its accompanying map were first published by bluebirdresearch in 2011.