YEZIDI KURDS IN GEORGIA: ETHNIC SELF-AWARENESS AND CONSOLIDATION
Mamuka Komakhia, Research associate, Institute of Political Studies, Georgian Academy of Sciences (Tbilisi, Georgia)
The political developments in the Middle East during the 1990s added a global dimension to the Kurdish question, which is having an appreciable effect on the ethnic self-awareness of the Kurds living in Georgia, the absolute majority of whom are Yezidis.
Migration of Kurds in the Southern Caucasus
The first tribes of Yezidi Kurds came to Georgia in the 18th century; in 1918, they migrated in great numbers from the Ottoman Empire, after being driven away (like the Armenians) by the religious persecution, in which the Muslim Kurds also took part.
Under Soviet power, most of the Kurds in Georgia moved to Tbilisi, while a smaller number of them settled in other cities (Rustavi, Batumi, and Telavi). According to the 1959 official figures, there were 16,200 Kurds in this Union republic (0.4 percent of its population); in 1970, there were 20,700, or 0.5 percent; and in 1979, 25,700, or 0.5 percent. According to the last Soviet population census of 1989, there were 33,300 Kurds living in Georgia (0.6 percent). Today, according to the first population census conducted by independent Georgia in 2002, there are 20,843 Kurds (19,200 of them live in Tbilisi), or 0.4 percent of its population.
In the 1990s, emigration due mainly to social and economic hardships and mounting nationalism caused their number in the Southern Caucasus and Georgia to drop. The Kurds preferred to settle permanently in Russia and West European countries with strong diasporas. This movement is still going on today; if the Kurds continue to leave at the…………….