THE YEZIDI KURDS AND ASSYRIANS OF GEORGIA: THE PROBLEM OF DIASPORAS AND INTEGRATION INTO CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY
Iraklii Chikhladze, Executive Director, International EuroKavkazAsia Association (Tbilisi, Georgia)
Giga Chikhladze, Executive Director, Profile Journal (Tbilisi, Georgia)
We have deliberately selected the Assyrians and the Yezidi Kurds from among numerous ethnic minorities living in Georgia as a subject of this article because both have no independent national-autonomous entities except their autonomies in the north and northeast of Iraq. This shows that the diasporas cannot communicate with their historical homeland at the state level. At the same time, the expected state structure of postwar Iraq may greatly affect the life of the Kurdish and Assyrian communities in Georgia that share some of the problems with other ethnic minorities and have specific concerns of their own. There are indications that these communities have stepped up their activeness partly in response to the Georgian domestic problems and partly because of the coming geopolitical changes in the Middle East. The Southern Caucasus has been serving as home to the majority of the Kurds and Assyrians since the early 20th century when their ancestors fled Turkey. Today their diasporas may gain more weight in the context of possible geopolitical changes that are expected soon.
Survey of History
Assyrians in Georgia were first mentioned in the 6th century A.D. It was at that time that 13 Assyrian monks from the city of Urhai (Edessa, Mesopotamia) came to Georgia. History knows them as 13 saint Assyrian fathers. Later scholars likened their contribution to the enlightenment of the newly Christianized Georgia to what Saint Nino had done to convert the pagans. The monasteries and churches they founded are still standing.
The Yezidi Kurds probably came to Georgia during the reign of czar Georgy III (second half of the 12th century) when one of the Kurdish tribes had to leave Mesopotamia and settle in Armenia. Later some of them started serving the Georgian czar. It is known for a fact that two Yezidi Kurds, brothers Ivo and Zaa adopted Christianity and new names: Ioane and………………..