75% of villages of Dersim Province (now Tunceli, Turkey) are populated by Armenians.
In Armenia, the founder of the Union of Religion and Mutual Assistance to Armenians of Dersim Mihran Prkich Gultekin gave an interview to Armenian reporters. He touched upon the history of the Dersim Armenians who, fleeing the Turkish scimitar, united with the Alevites and found refuge in the highland Dersim.
“Dersim is protected by mountains from three sides, and the wealth of the Armenians was stored in churches built on hills. The Ottomans tried to invade Dersim and slaughter the Armenians, but the Alevites did not break their promise and did not betray the Armenians,” Gultekin said.
According to Gultekin, what he told spans a century, and one needs to know history well in order to better understand the Dersim Armenians.
Gultekin visited Armenia for the first time. The purpose of his visit was to familiarize the residents of Armenia with the programs of his organization, including the restoration of Armenian identity among the Armenians of Dersim, the preservation of cultural wealth, and the teaching of the Armenian language.
Gultekin found it difficult to answer how many Armenians live in Dersim. But he noted that 75% of Dersim’s villages are inhabited by Armenians.
“When we talk with people, they admit that they are Armenians, but they are afraid to go to court to restore their nationality and change their faith like me,” Gultekin said. This, he said, is due to fear: “There are no threats from today’s authorities, but people are afraid that the former Turkish authorities may return and that history will repeat itself.”