PanARMENIAN.Net – Members of the Bizeni tribe, originally from Kirkuk, were separated during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Bizenis live in different parts of Kurdistan, particularly Kirkuk city. Today, a large group of Sheikh Bizenis live in Anatolia’s Heymane area, 65 kilometers southeast of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, Hemin Khoshnaw writes in his article titled “Divided Bizeni Tribe Hopes to Reunite in Kirkuk” published by rudaw.net.
“Historical sources indicate that Sheikh Bizenis were partitioned during the 15th century, under Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Selim’s tenure. Opinions differ regarding whether Sheikh Bizenis were forced to move to Ankara or moved there voluntarily,” the article says.
“Emrullah Susli, a Kurdish Sheikh Bizeni, believes his tribe migrated voluntarily to Chamchamal then to Cizire and Diyarbakir and finally to Palo in Turkey. He believes the migration was due to the strong relations Sheikh Bizenis had with the Ottoman Sultan at the time.”
Susli told Rudaw, “According to research and stories passed down from our ancestors, Sheikh Baziyan, the father of the Sheikh Bizenis, supported the Ottomans during the Ottoman-Safavid war. After the war ended, the Sheikh Bizenis were facing difficulties due to their geographical closeness to the Safavid Empire. Therefore, Yavuz Sultan moved the Sheikh Bizenis to Cizire and then to Diyarbakir. Later, the Sheikh Bizenis moved to Palo.”
Due to the lack of pasture lands, the Sheikh Bizenis moved to central Anatolia and settled in Heymana, 65 kilometers southeast of Ankara. Susli says, “I have a document that is a decree from Abdul Hamid II that commands the Sheikh Bizenis be pardoned from taxes and military conscription. The decree also orders that the Sheikh Bizenis be free to live and settle wherever they want.”
Historical documents show that Heymana and central Anatolia were home to Armenians. During the Armenian Genocide, the Ottomans brought Kurds to live in the Armenian lands, the author reminds.
“Stories passed down from our forefathers indicate that when we moved to this area in 1750, there were some Armenians living in the area,” Susli says. “Even today, remains of the Armenians can be seen in our area. The area was an Armenian area.”
Mala Shakhi, a veteran Peshmerga and former Iraqi MP from the Sheikh Bizenis tribe, has researched the subject and says the Sheikh Bizenis were forced to move out of Kirkuk. “The goal was to de-Kurdify Kirkuk,” Shakhi says.
He adds, “The Sheikh Bizenis were forced to move to Turkey. They were moved there during the Armenian Genocide.”
The forced migration was done in several phases, according to Shakhi. “First, they were moved to Kalaki Yasin Agha (near Erbil), then to Kawrgosk (Erbil). Some of the tribesmen escaped military conscription back then and remained in Kawrgosk. That is why we have a number of Sheikh Bizenis villages in that area and in Badinan. The villages were formed by those who escaped military conscription.”
Even though the Sheikh Bizenis in Heymana are geographically distant from Kurdistan and deprived Kurdish language studies, they have protected their language and still speak it. Susli says they speak the Kalhur dialect of Kurdish.
“Today, Sheikh Bizenis do not deny their Kurdish origins,” Susli adds. “All of our children speak Kurdish before they go to school. But once in school, the assimilation process and Turkification starts.”