Organization of Boshas or Lom in Western Armenia
It is noteworthy that in recent years the self-organization of Boshas in Western Armenia has become noticeable. For example, in 2009, the Boshas of Hopa district of Ardvin province founded the association “Lom-Der”, but the association lasted only until 2015.
In an interview with Cemil Aksu, an Armenian researcher from Hamshen, the founders of the association stated that the aim of the association was to study and preserve their culture, which had begun to disappear, but they did not accept the word Lom as a name for ethnic identity, defining it as “lifestyle and culture”.
Meanwhile, in 2015, a similar association was formed by the Boshas in Chankırı, who, according to Iranologist Vardan Voskanyan, still use Armenian as a secret language. About 2,000 Boshas live in the Mimarsinan district of Chankırı, and about 70 percent of them can communicate in Lomavrece.
In an interview with the Turkish press, Durmush Gormez, the head of the Boshas Association in Chankırı, said that the association has 437 members. Perhaps this is why the problem of the Boshas in Chankırı has recently attracted the special attention of Turkish researchers: Based on their conversations and meetings with local Boshas, they even try to attribute Oghuz origins to the Lom and emphasize that the Boshas are considered Turkish and Muslim.
The aims of the “Lom-Der” association are to study and preserve the Lom culture, to provide scholarships for young people from poor families, to prevent young girls from marrying at an early age, to include women in social life, to prohibit ethnic discrimination against the Boshas, to provide jobs for their relatives, especially young people, and to promote them in Turkish society, to promote cohesion and to make documentaries about Bosha. During these 6 years the association has been very active.
In particular, it was able to pay the tuition fees of some students and employ many young people. From time to time, the association tried to intervene in cases where Boshas were subjected to ethnic discrimination. With around 65 members, “Lom-Der” was closed down, and one of the reasons for its closure was the lack of financial resources: Most of the members were poor, the association could not fulfill its main functions, especially due to lack of financial resources, so many of them were disappointed.
According to Westernarmeniatv’s sources, locals were already afraid to join the association in order to hide their origins.
In total, Boshas make up 10 percent of the population of Ardvin province.
However, it is worth noting that, according to our observations, the purpose of similar associations recently established by Boshas in Western Armenia is not so much to preserve identity and culture as to unite relatives under one roof. One of the reasons for this may be that recently, before the coup attempt in July 2016, the tendency to form such associations began to spread among the minorities of the Turkish state. It is also possible that the formation of these associations has been encouraged by the Turkish state in order to control the activities of minorities.
To be continued…
journalist-analyst Western ArmeniaTV