Volume 13 Issue 1, Spring 2019, pp. 52-76

This paper discusses long “hidden” genocidal processes that took place in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. In addition to the Armenians, demographically smaller groups of Christian denominations as well as non-Christian groups such as the Yezidi were targeted by the politics of annihilation. It is nearly impossible to know the number of the victims; about 12,000 Yezidis managed to find refuge in Armenia, where they established a diasporic community in the Soviet realm. Only in the last decade have questions of acknowledgment been brought up; since there are almost no archival sources to prove the persecutions, much of the recollection of these events are stories still upheld in family narratives. Despite politics of silencing during the Soviet era, memories of genocidal persecution were passed down from one generation to the next. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Yezidi community in Armenia to collect such family narratives, this article examines the organized character of the persecution of the Yezidis as it occurred a century ago. In these persecutions, the role and position of “the Kurds” is ambiguous, with the Yezidis’ own interpretations intermingling with current discourses ranging between affiliation to and separation from the Kurdish ethnicity.