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Yezidis of Armenia do not want to learn, but want to marry14.06.2012 | 16:24
One of the acute problems of the Yezidi community in Armenia is unemployment, which is why they began to actively migrate. In a conversation with GTimes reporter the head of the Union of Yezidis of Armenia Aziz Tamoyan expressed his concern of this fact. However, the expert-ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan says the laws of the Yezidi community do not allow people to get an education, which prevents them from further assimilation and employment. Most of the Yezidis, mainly living in the mountains, where the animal husbandry is priority over the education, is engaged in cattle breeding.
According to Tamoyan, the situation is compounded by the fact that because of unemployment many Yezidis sell their houses and leave the country, where they have a real opportunity to develop their culture, forever. "Young Yezidis, having completed their studies in universities, cannot find a job and self-actualize in Armenia, and are forced to go abroad in search of work", he said, regretting the fact that the Yezidis, 3 million of whom live around the world, have an opportunity to develop their own culture only in Armenia.
In his view, a particularly acute problem is education, especially in schools where there are very few of the teachers of the Yezidi language, mainly because of salary. Teacher of the Yezidi language in a junior school gets 10-12 thousand drams (about $ 30) which is a paltry sum, and rare teachers agree to work", the head of the Union of Yezidis of Armenia said. According to him, despite the great migration to Russia and Europe, the Yezidi community is growing: "If at the beginning of the 2000s our community accounted about 52,000 people, now, thanks to high birth rates, we have a population of about 60,000 people".
Culture, the problem of integration and deceit in the figures
Well-known Armenian ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan has different view in regard of the number of Yezidis in Armenia. "According to the census in Armenia in 2001, the number of Yezidis was about 40 thousand 500 people, which corresponds to reality. I have convinced myself in it in the course of my research. The aggregate amount of the Yezidis and Kurds as a result of the 1989 census amounted to 60 thousand people, but after that there was a fairly large migration of the Yezidis from Armenia to Russia and Germany".
With regard to the matters of life and culture, the Yazidis are largely living in rural areas, breeding cattle, which is their way of life in many respects; the community is very closed, so that the assimilation rate is very low. "They are mainly engaged in cattle husbandry, which determines all of their livelihoods as a whole", Kharatyan said, adding that because of the cattle breeding the education goes to the background.
With the advent of spring the Yezidi families, including school-age children, bring their cattle in the mountains, and return in the fall. "The children lag far behind the school program, which is not so important for them. Yazidis say if a child can read and write, therefore, he can sell the cheese, so why should he learn more? Moreover, in the course of my research I have found out that before coming to school the vast majority of the Yazidi children in the villages do not know the Armenian language, since they mainly speak Yezidi and watch TV a little or do not watch it at all", Kharatyan said. They start to learn the Armenian language only in school, which is quite difficult because teachers do not know Yezidi language, and the children get able to read Armenian text only by the fourth grade, the ethnographer added.
Compared with the Armenians, Yezidis marry their daughters much earlier. Girls marry at 13-14 years old; married at 17 is considered "late and not worthy of respect". "After the marriage life of Yezidi girl does not change as they continue to engage in cattle breeding", Kharatyan said.
Yezidi community in the villages is permanently protected from assimilation through intermarriage outside the community, because the ghetto is quite closed in this regard. "As a result of a study in 2004, I found only one case of a mixed marriage among 1400 Yezidis. There are two reasons: on one hand - the Yezidi community does not encourage mixed marriages, and on another - the Armenians are not interested in it. If the Armenian girl marries Yezidi, she must unconditionally accept the traditions and way of life of the community. If a Yezidi girl marries an Armenian, as a rule, she completely loses touch with the life of the community", the expert said.