The Hemshin Peoples or Hemshinli are a diverse group of people who in the past history or present have been affiliated with the Hemşin
Hemşin is a town and district of Rize Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, 57 km from the city of Rize....

 district in the province of Rize
Rize Province
Rize Province is a province of north-east Turkey, on the eastern Black Sea coast between Trabzon and Artvin. Its capital is the city of Rize.-Geography:...

, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. They are called (and call themselves) as Hemshinli , Hamshenis, Homshentsi (Armenian: Համշենի) meaning resident of Hemshin (historically Hamshen) in the relevant language. The term "the Hemshin" is used also in some publications to refer to Hemshinli.

History until the Ottoman Conquest

Robert H. Hewsen shows the region where today's Hemshin is located to be populated by a people with different designations
throughout the ancient and early medieval history. He indicates thereby that some designations may have alternative forms and partially presents the names used with question marks. In summary from 13th century to 6th century BC Kolkhians, 550 to 330 BC Kolkhiansa and Makrones, 180 BC to 14 AD Laz (Chanian tribes), in the Arsacid Period (63 AD-298 AD) Heniokhians, Makhelones, Heptakometians, Mossynoeci
Mossynoeci is a name that the Greeks of the Euxine Sea applied to the peoples of Pontus, the northern Anatolian coast west of Trebizond.-Herodotus:...

 as well as Sannians, Drilles and Makrones are mentioned.

The Hemshin region is shown as part of Colchis
In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolkhis was an ancient Georgian state kingdom and region in Western Georgia, which played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the Georgian nation.The Kingdom of Colchis contributed significantly to the development of medieval Georgian...

 (299 AD- 387 AD), Tzanica ( 387 AD – 591 AD) and Chaldia
Chaldia was a historical region located in the Black Sea coast of Asia Minor . Its name was derived from a people called the Chaldoi that inhabited the region in Antiquity. Chaldia was used throughout the Byzantine period and was established as a formal theme, known as the Theme of Chaldia , in...

 ( 654 AD – 750 AD). The specific location of Hemşin is indicated as Tambur/Hamamašen as a fort and town for the first time in the map covering the period 654-750.

Those two names (Tambur and Hamamašen ) are included in the History of Taron by Pseudo John Mamikonian in a short passage about a war between the ruler of Tambur, Hamam, and his maternal uncle the Georgian Prince, which resulted in the destruction of the town to be rebuild by Hamam and be named after him namely Hamamshen. This event is declared by Mamikonian to have taken place in early seventh century. Hamamashen became with time Hamshen. Simonian who conveys this story reports also that the date given by the author may be wrong.
Two other Armenian chronicles Ghewond and Stephen Asoghik of Taron, report in short passages in their histories about a migration from Armenia/Oshakan led by prince Shaspuh Amatuni
Amatuni was an ancient Armenian noble family, known from the 4th century in the canton of Artaz, between lakes Van and Urmia, with its center at Shavarshan , and subsequently also at Aragatsotn, west of Lake Sevan, with the residence at Oshakan.- History :Probably of Caspio-Median origin, this...

 and his son Hamam. Ghewond conveys this immigration to be to avoid heavy taxes imposed on Armenians by the Arab rulers. The Amatuni
Amatuni was an ancient Armenian noble family, known from the 4th century in the canton of Artaz, between lakes Van and Urmia, with its center at Shavarshan , and subsequently also at Aragatsotn, west of Lake Sevan, with the residence at Oshakan.- History :Probably of Caspio-Median origin, this...

 lords are offered fertile land to settle down by the Byzantine Emperor, after they crossed the Corukh river. This migration is dated to be after 789 by Ghewond and as 750 by Stephen Asoghik of Taron.

Benninghaus specifies “Tambur” as the destination of the migration led by Hamam and his father Shapuh Amaduni and says that they have seemingly met people there who were already Christians, possibly Greeks. Redgate informs about possible symbolism used in the Ghewond’s history and possible garbling in Mamikonian’s history, and cautions not to take everything at face value. Hachikian states “There is no clue as to where Tambur, the legendary capital of Hamshen, was located. The only certain thing about it is that it clearly belonged to a much earlier time- if it existed at all”. He also mentions in the footnote the name similarity between Tambur and a yayla known as Tahpur or Tagpur, in the heights of Kaptanpasa. Simonian states that Tambur is probably in the vicinity of Varoşkale (altitude 1800 m).
A description of "Haynsen" in the Kingdom of Georgia, its inhabitants and history is contained in "La Fleur des histoires de la terre d'Orient" by Hetu'm of Corycos, written around 1307, translated into English in 1520, and later reproduced in the travellers' tales of Samuel Purchas published in 1614. Purrchas uses the term "Hamsem" to designate the region and concludes that this is the place of the original Cimmerian gloom of Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

The translation of He'tum's related passage to modern English uses the term Hamshen.
He'tum describes the region to be "miraculous and strange place" unbelievable unless seen by own eyes, dark and without roads. Signs of human settlement are that "...People in those parts say that one frequently hears the sounds of men bellowing, of cocks crowing, of horses neighing in the forest,"
Those people are described by He'tum, leaning upon Georgian and Armenian Histories, to be the descendants of the men of the "wicked" Iranian Emperor Shaworeos who had chased and harassed Christian people.
The referenced translation suggests this Emperor could be Shapuhr II, [A.D. 309-79].

Simonian considers the so described difficulty in access not to imply total isolation. On the contrary, he reports, Hemshin served sometimes as a transit route between the coastal regions and the Armenian plateau.

Further theories of medieval settlement to Hemşin are that
  • following the Seljuk Turks occupation, Ani Armenians have fled to Hemshin which had never seen any human face before;
  • there has been continuous influx of Armenians from the South following the initial settlement; resulting in an armenisation of the area through expelling local Tzans population and
  • the armenization of the Tzan people took place through ruling dynasties in the South.

Sources of the ruling powers in the region, (Byzantine Trapezuntine, Georgian, Armenian and Turkish) are silent about Hemshin; until the conquest by the Ottomans. It is deduced that Hemşin has been governed by local lords under the umbrella of the greater regional powers changing by the time namely the Bagratid Armenian kingdom, the Byzantine Empire, its successor the Empire of Trebizond, the Georgian Kingdom, the Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu Turkmen Confederations until it was annexed by the Ottoman Empire which collapsed as a result of the WW1 and gave birth to the Republic of Turkey.

The Ottoman conquest of Hamshen occurred sometime in the 1480s: an Ottoman register dated around 1486 calls it Hemshin and mentions it as being an Ottoman possession.

Turkish dominance and division

Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 influence was firmly established in the region after the Battle of Manzikert
Battle of Manzikert
The Battle of Manzikert , was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuq Turks led by Alp Arslan on August 26, 1071 near Manzikert...

 in 1071, after which the Seljuk Turks and other Turkish tribes
Anatolian Turkish Beyliks
thumb|350px|Anatolian Turkish Beyliks map.Anatolian beyliks, Turkish beyliks or Turkmen beyliks were small Turkish Muslim emirates or principalities governed by Beys, which were founded across Anatolia at the end of the 11th century in a first period, and more extensively during the decline of the...

 gained a strong foothold in Central Anatolia and Western Armenian Highlands, often referred to as Eastern Anatolia, bringing the local population in contact with the religion of Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. In 15th century, the region of Hemshin was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. During the Turkish rule, two most important developments are human migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

s and conversions
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

. Most sources agree that prior to Ottoman era majority of the residents of Hemshin were Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The details and the accompanying circumstances for the migrations and the conversions
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

 during the Ottoman era are not clearly known or documented.

As a result of those developments, distinctive communities with the same generic name have also appeared in the vicinity of Hopa
Hopa is a city and district of Artvin Province in northeast Turkey. It is located on the eastern Turkish Black Sea coast about from the city of Artvin and 18 kilometres from the border with Georgia.-Geography:...

, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 as well as in the Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

. Those three communities are almost oblivious to one another's existence.
  • The Hemshinli of Hemshin proper (also designated occasionally as western Hemshinli in publications) are Turkish
    Turkish language
    Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

    -speaking Sunni Muslims
    Sunni Islam
    Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

     who mostly live in the counties (ilçe) of Çamlihemşin and Hemşin in Turkey's Rize Province
    Rize Province
    Rize Province is a province of north-east Turkey, on the eastern Black Sea coast between Trabzon and Artvin. Its capital is the city of Rize.-Geography:...

  • The Hopa Hemshinli (also designated occasionally as eastern Hemshinli in publications) are Sunni Muslims and mostly live in the Hopa
    Hopa is a city and district of Artvin Province in northeast Turkey. It is located on the eastern Turkish Black Sea coast about from the city of Artvin and 18 kilometres from the border with Georgia.-Geography:...

     and Borçka
    Borçka is a town and district of Artvin Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, on the border with Georgia.Borçka is reached by a winding road up from the Black Sea coast, alongside the Çoruh River. There is an ancient stone bridge across the river just west of the town.Borçka Lake is a popular...

     counties of Turkey's Artvin Province
    Artvin Province
    Artvin Province is a province in Turkey, on the Black Sea coast in the north-eastern corner of the country, on the border with Georgia.The provincial capital is the city of Artvin.-Geography:...

    . In addition to Turkish, they speak a dialect of western Armenian
    Western Armenian language
    Western Armenian is one of the two standardized forms of modern Armenian, the other being Eastern Armenian. The two standard forms form a pluricentric language. For historical reasons explained below, generally speaking, Western Armenian is used outside the Republic of Armenia, while Eastern...

     they call "Homshetsma" or "Hemşince" in Turkish.
  • Homshentsik (also designated occasionally as Northern Homshentsik in publications) are Christians who live in Abkhazia
    Abkhazia is a disputed political entity on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus.Abkhazia considers itself an independent state, called the Republic of Abkhazia or Apsny...

     and in Russia's Krasnodar Krai
    Krasnodar Krai
    -External links:* **...

    . They speak Homshetsma as well. There are also some Muslim Hemshinli living in Georgia
    Georgia (country)
    Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

     and Krasnodar and some Hemshinli elements amongst the Meskhetian Turks.


Two major developments in the Hemshin region during the Ottoman era: Islamization and population movements. Islam may have begun to spread prior to the Ottoman rule, but it did not become the general religion before the end of the 16th century. A number of population movements (both into and out of the region) also happened during the Ottoman era. Even though detailed information regarding the nature of these movements is missing, in summary:
  • some Hemşin of Hemşinli who were members of the Armenian church emigrated to other countries on the eastern Black Sea during the early centuries of Ottoman rule;
  • some Muslim Hemşinli migrated to western Anatolia and the Caucasus as a result of the Turco-Russian wars and related hardships during the 19th century;
  • some immigration into the area may have occurred during Ottoman rule.

The present community of Hemşinli today is exclusively Muslim and Turkish speaking. This goes for the people living in Hemşin or people maintaining links to the area and living elsewhere in Turkey.

A distinct community settled about 50 km east of Hemşin in villages around Hopa and Borçka also call themselves “Hemşinli”. They are often referred to as the “Hopa Hemşinli”. Professor of Linguistics Bert Vaux at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee refers to this group as the “Eastern Hamshenis”. Hemşinli and Hopa Hemşinli are separated not only by geography but also by language and some features of culture. The two groups are almost oblivious to one another's existence. Simonian reports various theories regarding the appearance of the Hope Hemshinli group. Those theories relate to whether the groups migrated from Hemshin or they were settled by the Ottoman authorities, whether the migration/settlement was in the early 16th or late 17th centuries, and whether the migration took place in one step or two waves. The Hopa Hemşinli are exclusively Muslim as well.
Simonian reports that there is a controversy regarding whether they arrived in the Hopa region as Muslims or converted to Islam after arrival.

The Hopa Hemşinli speak a language called "Hemşince" or (“Homşetsi” and/or Homshetsma in some sources) in addition to Turkish. Recent studies by Hovann Simonian (Author: The Hemshin: A Handbook (Caucasus World)) suggest that this language is an archaic dialect of Armenian subject to influence from Turkish and Laz. Vaux also reports that "Hemşince" has been subject to influence from Turkish to a much greater extent than other Armenian dialects.

In addition to these two groups there are people speaking Hemşince / Homshetsma in the countries of the former USSR whose ancestors probably originated from Hemşin and/or Hopa Hemşin in course of the various population movements to the Caucasus. Many of the Muslim Hemşince speakers in the former USSR were deported from the Adjara area of Georgia during the Stalin era to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Since 1989, a considerable number of these deportees have moved to Krasnodar Krai since 1989, along with the Meskhetian Turks.

Most Christian Hemşince speakers currently live in Abkhazia and in the Krasnodar Krai region of Russia, concentrated in the Sochi area and Adygeya.


Hamshenis are well known for the clever jokes, riddles, and stories that they tell. Some of the anecdotes that the Muslim Hamshenis tell are actually based on older Armenian ones. They accompany dances with their own brand of music using the tulum
Tulum (bagpipe)
The tulum is a musical instrument, a form of bagpipe from Turkey. It is droneless with two parallel chanters, usually played by the Laz, Hamsheni people, and Pontic Greeks...

(the Pontic
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

 bagpipe) (for the Western group), the şimşir kaval (flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 made of buxus
Buxus is a genus of about 70 species in the family Buxaceae. Common names include box or boxwood ....

) (for the Eastern group) or the Hamshna-Zurna (Hamsheni zurna
The zurna , is a multinational outdoor wind instrument, usually accompanied by a davul in Anatolian folk music. The name is from Turkish zurna, itself derived from Persian سرنای surnāy, composed of sūr “banquet, feast” and nāy “reed, pipe”...

) (for the Northern group). The traditional occupations of the Turkish Hamshenis are cultivating tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

 and maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, breeding livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

, and beekeeping
Beekeeping is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper keeps bees in order to collect honey and other products of the hive , to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers...

. The Northern Hamshenis of Russia and Georgia, meanwhile, are primarily known as citrus, corn, tobacco and tea growers as well as fishermen
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

. Some Hamshenis (both Muslim and Christian) are also active in economic life as expert baker
A baker is someone who bakes and sells bread, Cakes and similar foods may also be produced, as the traditional boundaries between what is produced by a baker as opposed to a pastry chef have blurred in recent decades...

s, restaurateur
A restaurateur is a person who opens and runs restaurants professionally. Although over time the term has come to describe any person who owns a restaurant, traditionally it refers to a highly skilled professional who is proficient in all aspects of the restaurant business.-Etymology:The word...

s, and transporter
Transporter may refer to:* Transporter , types of vehicles designed to transport items* Volkswagen Transporter, a model of van- Film and television :...

s, and those in Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 developed a keen and nationally renowned expertise in the production of crafted handguns.
The Hemshen people and their mansions were featured in issue twelve of Cornucopia Magazine
Cornucopia (magazine)
Cornucopia is a magazine about Turkish culture, art and history, published jointly in the United Kingdom and Turkey.-Content:Cornucopia was founded by John Scott and Berrin Torolsan in 1992. It is an English Language magazine that concerns Turkish culture...


Hemşinli in Turkey

The Kemalist
Kemalist ideology
Kemalist Ideology, "Kemalism" or also known as the "Six Arrows" is the principle that defines the basic characteristics of the Republic of Turkey. It was developed by the Turkish national movement and its leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.-Fundamentals:...

 "Turkey for the Turks" ideology, writes Neal Ascherson
Neal Ascherson
Charles Neal Ascherson is a Scottish journalist and writer.- Background :He was born in Edinburgh and educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, where he read history. He was described by the historian Eric Hobsbawm as "perhaps the most brilliant student I ever had...

, "offered no security for minorities" with "the tiny Hemşinli group having especially compelling reasons to keep its head down" because "its members are the descendants of Armenians." Beginning in the 1930s, a number of Turkish historians attempted to ascribe an entirely Turkish origin to the Hemshinli, the most prominent of them being M. Fahrettin Kırzıoğlu, whose theories have since gained wide currency among the community. His theories on the Hemshinli, however, have come under close scrutiny and have been roundly criticized. The German scholars Wolfgang Feurstein and Tucha Berdsena describe Kırzıoğlu's methodology as so:
In order to avoid accusations of "separatism" the Hemshinli are discreet and unprovocative about their own identity, taking a full but unobtrusive part in Turkish society.

The filmmaker Özcan Alper, an eastern Hemshinli, made the first motion picture in Homshetsi, Momi (Grandma), released in 2000. As a result, Alper was accused in the Court for State Security of producing material intended to destroy the unity of the state, under article 8 of Turkey's anti-terror law. This law was repealed in 2003 after EU pressure, and Alper's trial did not go ahead. Hamsheni singer Gökhan Birben
Gökhan Birben
Gökhan Birben ,, is a Hamsheni singer,sound artist.Elementary school, middle school and high school, studied in Rize. After graduating from.17 years ended up in Istanbul...

 (from the Western group) and Laz
Laz people
The Laz are an ethnic group native to the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia...

 singer Kâzım Koyuncu
Kâzim Koyuncu
Kâzım Koyuncu was a Turk folk-rock singer, song writer, and activist of Laz ethnicity....

 had also sung in Homshetsi. In 2005, the first music album exclusively of anonymous Hamshen folk songs and sung mostly in Homshetsi, Vova - Hamşetsu Ğhağ was released.

Older generations of Turkish Hamshenis see the reference "Ermeni" (often used by their Laz neighbours) as an insult but some among younger generations, particularly those with strong leftist leanings tend to identify themselves as Armenians.

Mesut Yılmaz
Mesut Yilmaz
Ahmet Mesut Yılmaz is the former leader of the Motherland Party and was the Turkish prime minister in the 1990s.Mesut Yılmaz was a rising star in the Motherland Party of Turgut Özal, representing the Black Sea province of Rize in the parliament and serving as tourism minister in Ozal's cabinet...

, a former Prime Minister of Turkey, was born in Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 to a family with partial Hamsheni (Western group) origins. Ahmet Tevfik İleri (who was born in Yaltkaya (Gomno) village of Hemşin), a Deputy Prime Minister
Politics of Turkey
Politics of Turkey takes place in a framework of a strictly secular parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Turkey is the head of government, and of a multi-party system...

 and before that, a Minister of Education
Education in Turkey
Education in Turkey is governed by a national system which was established in accordance with the Atatürk Reforms after the Turkish War of Independence...

 in Turkey within successive Adnan Menderes
Adnan Menderes
Adnan Menderes was the first democratically elected Turkish Prime Minister between 1950–1960. He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party in 1946, the fourth legal opposition party of Turkey. He was hanged by the military junta after the 1960 coup d'état, along with two other cabinet...

 governments between 1950–1960, as well as Damat Mehmet Ali Pasha
Damat Mehmet Ali Pasha
Damad Mehmed Ali Pasha was an Ottoman statesman and diplomat. He served as the Grand Vizier from 3rd October, 1852 until 14th May, 1853 , on the eve of the Crimean War. Alongside Fuad Pasha and Reshid Pasha, he was one of the main reformers of the Tanzimat era...

, the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 Grand Vizier on the eve of the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 in 1853 were also Hamshenis. The community issued other important names in Turkish history and society such as Murat Karayalçın
Murat Karayalçin
Murat Karayalçın is a prominent Turkish politician. He is a former foreign minister and a former mayor of Ankara .Karayalçın is the founder of Social Democratic People's Party...

, current leader of SHP
Social Democratic People's Party (Turkey)
The current Social Democratic People's Party or SHP is a Turkish left social-democratic political party established in 2002 by Murat Karayalçın, former Ankara Metropolitan Mayor and Foreign Minister ....

 and a former Deputy Prime Minister and mayor of Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

 who is from Şenyuva (Çinçiva) village of Çamlıhemşin.

There are two ongoing projects involving Turkish NGOs and EuropeAid, European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

's external aid instrument, that touch their issues. The more recently (2007) launched "Ecodialogue Project" ("Ekodiyalog", web site pending) has set itself as goal raising environment consciousness of the region's enterprises and improving the poor levels and quality of the information relayed by local guides, many of whom are self-styled and unlicensed The other project, started 2004 and involving also the World Conservation Union
World Conservation Union
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is an international organization dedicated to finding "pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges." The organization publishes the IUCN Red List, compiling information from a network of...

, aims to raise the profile and awareness of the grouse
Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes. They are sometimes considered a family Tetraonidae, though the American Ornithologists' Union and many others include grouse as a subfamily Tetraoninae in the family Phasianidae...

, particularly black grouse
Black Grouse
The Black Grouse or Blackgame is a large bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia in moorland and bog areas near to woodland, mostly boreal...

, who visit the region, also with focus on enterprises and guides.

Hamshenis in Russia and the former Soviet Union

Interest in Hamshen heritage is rising among Christian Hamshenis in the former Soviet Union. In 2006, the first music album in Homshetsma by the Ensemble Caravan was released in Krasnodar. Hamshen Scientific, Information and Cultural Centre began to work on exclusive projects in order to recover the cultural heritage of the Hamshenis living in the region. The Armenian newspaper published in Sukhumi
Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s.-Naming:...

 carries the name Hamshen.

During the Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 period of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in the late 1980s, the Hamshenis of Kazakhstan began petitioning for the government to move them to the Armenian SSR
Armenian SSR
The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic The Armenian Soviet...

. However, this move was denied by Moscow because of fears that the Muslim Hamshenis might spark ethnic conflicts with their Christian Armenian brothers.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, most Hamshenis lived relatively undisturbed. However, those in the Abkhazia region of Georgia had trouble coping with day-to-day life during the Georgian Civil War
Georgian Civil War
The Georgian Civil War consisted of inter-ethnic and intranational conflicts in the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia , as well as the violent military coup d'etat of December 21, 1991 - January 6, 1992 against the first democratically elected President of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia and his...


Since 2000, several hundred of the Muslim Hamshenis in Russia who have resettled from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to Krasnodar Krai
Krasnodar Krai
-External links:* **...

 (about 1000 total) have repeatedly attempted to formally receive registration from the local authorities. This is similar and related to the problem of the Meskhetians. These actions have been made difficult by the attitude of the Krasnodar officials. In defiance of the authorities an organisation of their co-ethnics in Armenia have appealed to the Russian ambassador in Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...

 to get Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 to intervene in this case and overrule the regional officials who seem intent on preventing Hamshenis from gaining a status of permanent residency.

In the 2002 Russian Federation census, 1,542 people identified themselves as Hamshenis, two-thirds of whom were living in Krasnodar Krai.

Recognition by the Armenian mainstream

Whether Christian or Muslim, most Armenians are willing to work with and try to understand their ethnic cousins. From October 13 to 15, 2005, a Hamsheni international scientific convention was held in Sochi. The conference was organized under the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia, Russian-Armenian Commonwealth Organization of Moscow (commissioned by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
Armenian Revolutionary Federation
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation is an Armenian political party founded in Tiflis in 1890 by Christapor Mikaelian, Stepan Zorian, and Simon Zavarian...

) with help from the Armenian Scientific Informational and Cultural Center, "Hamshen" (Krasnodar, Russia) and Russian Armenian newspaper Yerkramas. It involved scholars from Armenia, Russia, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to discuss the past of the Hamshenis.

See also

  • Armenians in Turkey
    Armenians in Turkey
    Armenians in Turkey have an estimated population of 40,000 to 70,000 . Most are concentrated around Istanbul. The Armenians support their own newspapers and schools...

  • Islam in Armenia
    Islam in Armenia
    Islam in Armenia consists mostly of temporary residents from Iran and other countries. There is no native population reported as Muslim.In 2009, the Pew Research Center estimated that less than 0.1% of the population, or about 1,000 people, were Muslims....

  • Cherkesogai
    Cherkesogai or Circassian Armenians are ethnic Armenians who inhabit Russia's Krasnodar Krai and Republic of Adyghea since the end of 15th century that spoke the Adyghe language , apart from other Armenians living in the region. They reside mostly in the cities of Armavir and Maykop...

  • Pomaks
    Pomaks is a term used for a Slavic Muslim population native to some parts of Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. The Pomaks speak Bulgarian as their native language, also referred to in Greece and Turkey as Pomak language, and some are fluent in Turkish,...

  • Greek Muslims
    Greek Muslims
    Greek Muslims, also known as Greek-speaking Muslims, are Muslims of Greek ethnic origin, nowadays found mainly in Turkey, although migrations to Lebanon and Syria have been reported. Historically, Greek Orthodoxy has been associated with being Romios, i.e...

  • Chveneburi
    Chveneburi , meaning "of us" in Georgian, is an autonym of Muslim immigrants of Georgian descent who had settled in non-Georgian majority regions of Turkey, thus, "of us" signifies a triple distinction from Christian Georgians, Muslim Turks, and autochthonous Muslim Georgians...

  • Ajarians
    The Adjarians are an ethnographic group of Georgians that mostly live in Adjara in south-western...

  • Pontic Greeks
    Pontic Greeks
    The Pontians are an ethnic group traditionally living in the Pontus region, the shores of Turkey's Black Sea...

  • Laz people
    Laz people
    The Laz are an ethnic group native to the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia...

  • Zilkale
    Zilkale is a medieval castle located in the Fırtına Valley , and is one of the most important historical structures in Çamlıhemşin district of Rize Province in the Black Sea Region of Turkey....

Further reading

  • Bert Vaux, Hemshinli: The Forgotten Black Sea Armenians, Harvard University, 2001.
  • Mack Chahin, The Kingdom of Armenia: A History, Routledge, London, 2001. (ISBN 0-7007-1452-9)
  • Robert H. Hewsen, Armenia: A Historical Atlas, University Of Chicago Press, 2000. (ISBN 0-226-33228-4)
  • Peter Alford Andrews, Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1989. p475-497. (ISBN 3-89500-297-6)
  • Hovann H. Simonian (Ed.), "The Hemshin: History, society and identity in the Highlands of Northeast Turkey", Routledge, London and New York. (ISBN 0-7007-0656-9)

External links

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