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Coordinates: 39°10′10″N41°27′15″E / 39.16944°N 41.45417°E / 39.16944; 41.45417 Coordinates: 39°10′10″N41°27′15″E / 39.16944°N 41.45417°E / 39.16944; 41.45417
CountryFlag of Turkey.svg  Turkey
Province Muş
  MayorMehmet Nuri Çetin [1] (State-appointed caretaker)
   Kaymakam Mehmet Nuri Çetin
  District1,365.44 km2 (527.20 sq mi)
1,650 m (5,410 ft)
(2012) [3]
  District density25/km2 (64/sq mi)
Post code

Varto (Zazaki & Kurmanji: "Gımgım"; Medieval Greek : Barzanissa) is a town in eastern Turkey. The inhabitants are primarily Kurdish Zaza and Kurmanj.


The population of Varto city is around 13,000 with another 17,000 living in the villages. In summer Varto and its villages are filled by expatriates that swell the total population well past the 75,000 mark.

The largest population from Varto in Europe is in Berlin, Germany.

The elected mayor, Sabite Ekinci (BDP), was arrested on 9 November 2016 on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organization" and removed from her duty. Kaymakam Mehmet Nuri Çetin was appointed as trustee in her stead. [1] [4]

The former mayor of Varto, Demir Celik, a pharmacist, is chairman of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).


Some 150,200 Armenians were living in the district of Varto in 1914, including 600 in the town of Varto. 8 churches, 3 monasteries and 5 schools catered to them. [5] In June 1915 during the Armenian Genocide, a great number of Varto's Armenian were massacred in the valley of Newala Ask. [6]

Armenians ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland

Armenians are an ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.

Armenian Genocide systematic killing of Armenians residing in the Ottoman Empire

The Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, mostly citizens within the Ottoman Empire. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported from Constantinople to the region of Ankara, 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases—the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other ethnic groups were similarly targeted for extermination in the Assyrian genocide and the Greek genocide, and their treatment is considered by some historians to be part of the same genocidal policy. Most Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide.

Varto was the site of major fighting during the Sheikh Said rebellion in 1924, and the site of the 1966 earthquake that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Sheikh Said Rebellion or Genç Incident was a Kurdish rebellion aimed at reviving the Islamic caliphate and sultanate. It used elements of Kurdish nationalism to recruit. It was led by Sheikh Said and a group of former Ottoman soldiers also known as "Hamidiye". The rebellion was carried out by two Kurdish sub-groups, the Zaza and the Kurmanj.

1966 Varto earthquake

The 1966 Varto earthquake occurred on 19 August with a moment magnitude of 6.8 a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). At least 2,394 were killed and up to 1,500 people were injured in the town of Varto in the Muş Province of eastern Turkey.

In the 1990s Varto was one of the hotbeds of Kurdish militancy led by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Although the city did not see ongoing battles, it was the hometown of many fighters and leading PKK commanders. The Turkish military garrison stationed in the city is surrounded by barbed wire and sandbags. The garrison patrols the city in armored personnel carriers (cars), though there was no fighting in or around the city since the 1990s until August 2015 when fighting between Turkish security forces and PKK began again. Most Kirmancki Zazaki language speakers are Alevis, whereas most Kurmanci Kurdish language speakers are Sunnis. The communities had a separate and quiet existence until the 1980s. The last three decades have seen significant intermarriage, partially aided by the advance of Kurdish nationalism[ citation needed ]. Varto consists of the main city and 99 villages.

Kurdistan Workers Party Kurdish nationalist and separatist armed organization

The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK is a Kurdish far-left militant and political organization based in Turkey and Iraq. Since 1984 the PKK has been involved in an armed conflict with the Turkish state, with the initial aim of achieving an independent Kurdish state, later changing it to a demand for equal rights and Kurdish autonomy in Turkey.

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  1. 1 2 "Varto belediyesine Kaymakam atandı". NTV. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  2. "Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  3. "Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  5. de Bellaigue, Christopher (2010). Rebel Land: Unraveling the Riddle of History in a Turkish Town. p. 85.
  6. Thomas, De Waal. Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide. p. 243.

Further reading