AN INTERVIEW WITH GEGHAM MANUKYAN

Armenian News Network / Groong
By Onnik Krikorian
November 30 1998


    Gegham Manukyan is a member of the Central Committee of the
    Dashnaktsutiune, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, HHD)
    in the Republic of Armenia. He was interviewed during festivities
    celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Kurdistan Workers
    Party [PKK] organised by the Yezidi [Kurdish] community in Armenia,
    and staged at the Russian Theatre in Yerevan.

    The Russian Theatre was full to capacity with Yezidi dressed
    in the Kurdish colours of red, yellow and green, and waving
    PKK and ERNK flags while live Kurdish music played.
    Representatives from Armenian political parties and other
    groups and organisations in Armenia voiced their support for
    the Kurdish national liberation movement, and for Abdullah
    Ocalan, President of the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK].

    Along with other Armenian political figures invited, Gegham
    Manukyan was in attendance to deliver a message of support to
    the Kurdish people on behalf of the Dashnaktsutiune, Armenian
    Revolutionary Federation in the Republic of Armenia.


YEREVAN, ARMENIA


OK:	Are you here today as an official representative of
Dashnaktsutiune?

GM:	Yes.



OK:	Does this mean that Dashnaktsutiune considers the Kurdish
Question in Turkey is an important issue, and that Armenians should be
concerned with what is occurring to the Kurds in Turkey?

GM:	Armenians must respect the wishes of any nation that wants to
be free, anywhere in the world.



OK:	At the moment, many people are calling Ocalan a terrorist, and
the PKK a terrorist organisation. Are you worried that you might be
supporting an organisation that many consider terrorist?

GM:	No leader who wishes his nation to be free can be considered a
terrorist, and those that consider Ocalan a terrorist, are actually
the terrorists themselves - the Turkish leaders are involved with the
mafia. - And I think that in time people will consider Ocalan similar
to Arafat. He was once considered a terrorist, and now he has been
awarded prizes for peace.



OK:	And interesting too, because Dashnaktsutiune itself was
considered a terrorist organisation [Dro]. in Armenia. Perhaps
"terrorist" is just a political label?

GM:	Yes. I was in prison for three years. Do I look like a
terrorist? [laughs].

It will be better when the Kurdish problem is solved not through
force, but through political dialogue, and I am sure that this will
happen now.



OK:	I have been following closely the events in Italy [Ocalan's
arrival]. It seems inevitable that people will have to realise the
importance of negotiating some form of autonomy for the Kurds in
Turkey. However, if the Kurds do get some form of autonomy how will
you feel as an Armenian when you consider that some of this land is
considered historically Armenian?

GM:	It is a problem between the Kurds and Armenians, but we can
solve this problem. We are discussing it already. According to Ocalan
an agreement is possible.



OK:	I came here in June to look at the Yezidi minority in Armenia,
and found the community to be split. Some Yezidi consider themselves
Kurdish - and support the PKK - while the others are trying to define
themselves as definitely not being Kurds. Are you aware of this split,
and that the Kurds in the hall today are mainly Yezidi - perhaps there
are only one or two Moslem Kurds from Turkey?

GM:	This is a very complicated question - a matter of ethnology -
about the origins of the Yezidi and the Kurds.  Only on a scientific
level can this be solved, but everybody should be free to decide to
call themselves either Kurd or Yezidi.



OK:	It is Interesting because it appears that all of the Yezidi
outside of Armenia consider themselves Kurdish, and the division only
seems to exist in Armenia. Whatever the reasons, there is no mistaking
the fact that the Yezidi speak Kurmanji [Kurdish], and I noticed that
at the end of your address to the audience so did you.

GM:	[laughs] I learnt Kurdish in prison. I was in prison in Armenia
with three Kurds. They were refugees from Iraq, they traveled to Iran,
and through Nakhichevan to Armenia. They were arrested and imprisoned
- they taught me Kurdish.



OK:	Kocharian has already stated that Ocalan would not be allowed
political asylum in Armenia, and some people are concerned about PKK
activities here. What response do you have to these concerns?

GM:	The PKK has representatives in many countries. Most of these
concerns are as a result of Turkish propaganda, and it is absurd to
suggest that there are PKK military bases in Armenia.


--
Onnik Krikorian is a journalist, photojournalist and new media
consultant who has spent over three years working on projects
surrounding the Kurds in Turkey and the Caucasus.
His work on the Kurds can be seen online at:
	http://www.freespeech.org/oneworld/photo/
and his photographs of the Kurds in Turkey and Armenia are to
be published toward the end of December in the next edition of
"Armenian Forum".
Redistribution of Groong articles, such as this one, to any other media, including but not limited to other mailing lists and Usenet bulletin boards, is strictly prohibited without prior written consent from Groong's Administrator.
Copyright 1998 Armenian News Network/Groong. All Rights Reserved.

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