Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment


Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using




Culture & Art

Among the Kurds of Georgia: Kurdistan on my Mind

By Rudaw 9/7/2013
In Tbilisi, Georgia, a worker installs a flag in preparation for independence day celebrations, 2008. Photo: AP
In Tbilisi, Georgia, a worker installs a flag in preparation for independence day celebrations, 2008. Photo: AP

By Nechiravn Hussein

TBILISI, Georgia – As a poor Yezidi Kurd who has lived all her life in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Alihan Gohar may never fulfill her wish of visiting the Lalesh shrine in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“It is my dream,” she says, explaining how she and her husband were forced to send their three children to Europe in search of better lives.

They left for the United Kingdom and France to study and find jobs, because “here they could not make enough money to pay for their tuition fees,” says Alihan, 48, who runs a shoe store with her husband in the main market in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

Thousands of Kurds, mainly of the Yezidi faith, arrived in Georgia from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the Kurdistan Region and most now live in Tbilisi. The majority live in unfavorable economic conditions, with many Kurdish women working in the markets or as street vendors.

Some of the women told Rudaw that it is their dream to one day return to Kurdistan and live in their ancestral land. Others said that they were destined to spend the rest of their lives in Georgia, and expressed no wish to go back to their Kurdish homelands.

It is believed that the first group of Yezidi Kurds arrived in Georgia in the mid-18th and early 19th centuries, fleeing religious persecution under the Ottoman Empire.

A 1926 census shows a total of 2,502 Muslims and Yezidi Kurds. However, the numbers now exceed 40,000 Kurds, comprising one percent of Georgia’s five million population.

Some of the Kurds here say that they had a better life before 1991, when Georgia was still part of the Soviet Union. Since then, they say, many Kurds from Georgia have left for Europe.

While some Kurds and their children in Georgia have completely assimilated, Alihan and some of her relatives still speak the Kumanji dialect and have maintained their Kurdish culture.

“Our culture is very different from that of the Georgians,” says Alihan, who was born in Georgia.  

For more than two decades -- between the 1960s and 1980s -- the Kurds of Georgia were culturally active. They established Kurdish clubs and published magazines and newspapers.

They say that after Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union, the country’s only Kurdish theater group ceased to exist, and the Kurdish-language service of Radio Georgia was shut down thanks to the rising sense of Georgian nationalism.

Christina Cengiz, a Kurdish woman who sells coffee in the market of Tbilisi, says that she is happily assimilated with the Georgian way of life and is skeptical of the idea of returning to visit Kurdistan.

“I don’t know how they are going to treat me,” she wonders. “But I don’t mind if my children want to go to Kurdistan, if that is their wish,” she adds.

Unlike Cengiz, Guzel Bapir, 61, thinks of the Kurdish lands of her ancestors everyday, and the few songs she still remembers are about Kurdistan.

“I become very angry when I hear someone talking badly about Kurdistan,” she says, adding that she also dreams of a journey to Kurdisatn. “But I can’t, because I am too poor.”


Data pager
Page size:
Rodin NewRoz | 9/7/2013
Some rich people should help Guzel Bapir to fulfill her dream to help her to visit Kurdistan
Patriot | 9/7/2013
Rodin, Rudaw should make a donation campaign, we all donate a small sum, she'll get her wish fulfilled in no time. Rudaw can then also make a reportage about it, so we can see her happy face while in Kurdistan. =)
guest | 9/7/2013
for the sake of such people as Guzel Bapir, we have to give them opportunities to come to their homeland
Sherio | 10/7/2013
I will proudly help Guze to to reach her dream.i'm impreseed by this story.woul you please get me her contact no.or how can I help her?
Rodin Newroz | 13/7/2013
I am a Kurd living in USA and would love to participate in help . Please lets do something for her and people like her wishing to see beautiful Kurdistan. Slaw.
Tags :

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Pliny | 6/19/2018 11:20:16 PM
America, in its treatment of the Kurds ,is defiant of every norms of decency and human standards . I have no words to describe how villane and brute...
Cary | 6/20/2018 12:57:32 AM
All of this is very true. Too few Americans know anything about the Kurds. The only real group that has any understanding, besides Kurds that have...
America’s ‘allies’ in the Middle East
| yesterday at 10:04 | (10)
Gunrash | 6/19/2018 7:20:51 AM
Good to see there's at least one country that doesn't just talk but also acts. 22 less cockroaches to deal with. Biji Israel.
Dutchman | 6/19/2018 10:02:47 PM
Strange people, those warlords from Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Usually those shiite madmen blame the Jews for everything. For one time they blame...
Syria strike blamed on Israel kills 22 Iraqi fighters
| yesterday at 08:24 | (2)
FAUthman | 6/19/2018 4:48:21 PM
You kill 55 fighters by airstrikes, no one claims they did it, and no witnesses show up with evidence or reports as to who may have done it....
Robb Shuttlesworth | 6/19/2018 8:03:47 PM
Google: Hezbollah funded by Saudi Arabia
Targeting our forces a dangerous precedent: Hashd al-Shaabi
| yesterday at 07:07 | (2)
NotGonnaHappen | 6/19/2018 6:53:03 PM
US Senators have voted to block the sale of F-35s to Turkey
Renas | 6/19/2018 7:28:11 PM
Rudaw, how come you love turks so much, who controls you? Why do you love Erdogan so much?
US to transfer first F-35 to Turkey on Thursday as planned: Pentagon
| yesterday at 05:31 | (2)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

Iranian Kurdish refugees protest for rights at UN complex in Erbil 7 hours ago |

Iranian Kurdish refugees protest for rights at UN complex in Erbil

"We haven't been given any rights so far more
US-led coalition: Turkish soldiers will not go into Manbij 8 hours ago |

US-led coalition: Turkish soldiers will not go into Manbij

"They're independent coordinations, they're not more
0.265 seconds