Ismail Agha Shikak

Simko Shikak (also known as "Simitquh"; born Ismail Agha Shikak in 1887; died 1930) was a Kurdish chieftain of the Shakak tribe (Shekak also Shakkak or Shikakan) is considered as the largest among all the Kurdish tribes in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran and the adjacent area of Turkey. This large tribe lives around the city of Maku and south as far as Urmia. Among the clans of the Shekak are the 'Awdoǐ. According to their oral history they came from Diyarbakır in the 17th Century and settled west of Lake Urmia, which displaced the Dumbulī tribe.The first known chieftain of the 'Awdoǐ was Ismail Agha who died in 1816 and whose tomb is beside the Naslu River. His grandson Jafar Agha was executed as a bandit in Tabriz in 1905, Jafar's brother, Simko Shikak, was responsible for leading the anti-Christian massacres in the area before and during World War I and for trying to create an independent Kurdistan in the 1920s.
They speak the Kurmanji dialect of the Kurdish language, (Shakaki sub_dialect). The Shekak consists of many clans and families). He was born into a prominent Kurdish feudal family based in Chihriq castle located near the Baranduz river in the Urmia region of northwestern Iran n West Azarbaijan Province, Salmas County, near the Turkish border. The Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour. By 1920 parts of Iranian Azerbaijan located west of Lake Urmia were under his control. He led Kurdish farmers into battle and defeated the Iranian army on several occasions. The Iranian government had him assassinated in 1930Simko took part in the massacre of the Assyrians of Khoy and instigated the massacre of 1000 Assyrians in Salmas.

Family background

His family was one of the most prominent and politically active Kurdish families throughout Qajar reign from the late 18th to early 20th century. Sadiq Khan Shikak was one of the generals and governors in the Agha Muhammad Khan's [1] early Qajar state and was commanding a force of 10,000 soldiers. However, he was soon fell out of favor and Qajar monarch attempted to murder him. Sadiq Khan has been accused of taking part in the assassination of Qajar king in the town of Shusha [2] in 1797. Among other prominent members of the family are Ismail Khan The Great and his son Ali Khan, Muhammad Pasha son of Ali Khan, Cewer (Ja'afar) Agha brother of Simko. Many members of the family were murdered by the Qajar state such as Cewer(Dja'far) Agha who was killed at Tabriz by the order of governor general.

Murder of Cewer Agha

In 1905, the Qajar monarch Mozafar-al-Din Shah [3] appointed Husein Qulikhan Nizamul-saltana as the general governor of Azerbaijan. According to Iranian historian Ahmad Kasravi, Nizamul-saltana officially invited Cewer Agha to Tabriz in order to consult him on the border issues between Iran and the Ottoman Empire. Once Cewer Agha arrived in Tabriz, Nizamul-saltana ordered Muhammad Hussein Khan Zargham to invite Cewer Agha to his own residence and murder him. Cewer Agha was accompanied by seven of his guards including one of his uncles. Muhammad Ali Mirza, the Iranian Crown Prince, ordered his murder via telegraph sent to Nizamul-saltana. Five of Cewer Agha's guards managed to escape from the murder plot in Tabriz in a ferocious battle and return to Chari castle. Cewer's father, Muhammad Agha, sought help from Sultan Abdulhamid II in Istanbul to avenge the murder of his son. However Iranian envoy in Ottoman court managed to counter his efforts and according to some sources, Muhammad Agha was assassinated in a Qajar conspiracy in Istanbul. Murder of Cewer Agha caused outrage among the Kurds. Moreover many Iranian intellectuals and constitutionalists in Tabriz and Tehran condemned his assassination.


Simko Shikak revolt

Light green: Approximate area of Urmia under Simko.

In March 1918, under the pretext of meeting for the purpose of cooperation, Simko arranged the assassination of the Assyrian Nestorian patriarch, Mar Shamon, ambushing him and his 150 guards as Mar Shimon was entering his carriage. After the murder of Mar Shimun, the Hakkari Christians took revenge on the Muslim population of Salmas and most of the villages of Salmas County, while Simko and his men massacred Christians in Khoy.

By summer 1918, Simko had established his authority in the region west of Lake Urmia. After this, he organized his forces to fight the Iranian army in the region and managed to expand the area under his control to nearby towns and cities such as Mahabad, Khoy, Miandoab, Maku and Piranshahr in a series of battles.

At this time, government in Tehran tried to reach an agreement with Simko on the basis of limited Kurdish autonomy. Simko had organized a strong Kurdish army which was much stronger than Iranian government forces. Since the central government could not control his activities, he continued to expand the area under his control and by 1922, cities of Baneh and Sardasht were under his administration.

In the battle of sari Taj in 1922, Simko's forces could not resist the Iranian Army's onslaught in the region of Salmas and were finally defeated and the castle of Chari was occupied. The strength of the Iranian Army force dispatched against Simko was 10,000 soldiers. Simko and one thousand of his mounted soldiers took refuge in nearby Turkey, and they were forced to lay down their weapons.

Defeat and assassination

After the murder of Shimun XXI Benyamin [4] by Simko, Agha Petros [5] joined forces with Malik Khoshaba [6] and defeated Simko's forces driving Simko from his stronghold at Koynashahr. In 1930, the commander of Iranian Army General Hassan Muqaddam sent a letter to Simko who was residing in the village of Barzan, and invited him for a meeting in the town of Oshnaviyeh [7].
After consulting with his friends, Simko along with Khorshid Agha Harki went to Oshnaviyeh and were invited to the house of local army commander, Colonel Norouzi and were told to wait for the Iranian general. Colonel Norouzi convinced Simko to go to the outskirts of the town to welcome the general's arrival. However, this was a trap and Simko was ambushed and killed on the evening of June 30, 1930.

Political life

There are different and conflicting views about Simko among Kurdish historians. After the murder of Cewer Agha, Simko became the head of Shikak forces. At this time, Iranian government was trying to assassinate him like the other members of his family. In 1919, Mukarramul-Molk, the governor of Azerbaijan, with the help of Armenians, devised a plot to kill Simko by sending him a present with a bomb hidden in it. Although the plot failed, but it revealed the intentions of the Iranian government, and propelled Simko into a turbulent period of political and military confrontation with Iran.

Simko was in contact with other Kurdish nationalists such as Abdurrazaq Badrkhan (Bedirxan) and Seyyed Taha Gilani (grandson of Sheikh Ubaidullah Nahri who had revolted against Iran in 1880s). Seyyed Taha was a Kurdish nationalist who was conducting propaganda among the Iranian Kurds for the union of east Kurdistan (Iranian Kurdistanand  north kurdistan (Turkish Kurdistan) in an independent state. He was also aware of the international geopolitics and modern nationalism. In one of his letters to Iranian authorities, he talks about the right of self-rule and autonomy for the Kurds and compares Kurdish demands with similar demands of other nationalities in Europe.

Cultral activities

The first schools for Kurds were established in Mahabaad in 1909 by international missionaries operating under the Lutheran Orient Mission. This is also where the first Kurdish periodical appeared, though it did not last long. Simko attacked the Kurdish and other inhabitants of Mahabaad operating on the fringes of the Ottoman army. The schools in Mahabaad recovered only when the surviving missionaries dared to return in 1920 when Simko's rampaging was being brought in check by the Iranian army. In 1912, Simko and Abdul-razzaq Badirkhan established a Kurdish journal in Iran , a monthly magazine titled Kurdistan. Moreover, he opened a Kurdish school in the north-western city of Khoy. These cultural activities were mainly organized by an association named Cîhandanî based in Khoy. From 1919 up to the end of his movement in 1922, he also published a newspaper titled Roja Kurd which was the official organ of his government in Urmia. The editor-in-chief of Roja Kurd was Muhammad Turjanizade.

Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar
Shahanshah of Persia

Agha Muhammad Khān Qājār (21 March 1782 – 17 June 1797) (Persian: آغا محمد خان قاجار‎)‎ was the chief of the Qajar tribe, succeeding his father Mohammad Hassan Khan, who was killed on the orders of Adil Shah. He became the Emperor/Shah of Persia in 1794 and established the Qajar dynasty. He was succeeded by his nephew, Fat′h Ali Shah Qajar.


Shusha (Azerbaijani: Şuşa), also known as Shushi (Armenian: Շուշի) is a town in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. It has been under the control of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic since its capture in 1992 during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. However, it is a de jure part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, with the status of an administrative division of the surrounding Shusha Rayon. Situated at an altitude of 1400–1800 metres (4,600-5,900 ft) in the picturesque Karabakh mountains, Shusha was a popular mountain recreation resort in the Soviet era.

After its foundation in 1750 Shusha was turned into the capital of the Karabakh khanate. The town became one of the cultural centers of the South Caucasus after the Russian conquest of the region in the first half of the 19th century. Over time, it became a home to many intellectuals, poets, writers and especially, musicians (e.g., the ashugs, mugham singers, kobuz players). Shusha was the only large settlement within the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast that had a predominantly Azerbaijani population. In 1977 Shusha was declared reservation of Azerbaijani architecture and history. The city was often referred to as "musical capital or conservatory of Transcaucasia".

The city was also a major center of Armenian cultural and economic life until the closing years of World War I. Along with Tbilisi; it was one of the two main Armenian cities of the Transcaucasus and the center of a self-governing Armenian principality from medieval times through the 1750s. It also had religious and strategic importance to the Armenians, housing the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, the church of Kanach Zham and serving (along with Lachin district to the west) as a land link to Armenia. Following the capture of Shusha in 1992 by Armenian forces, its population diminished dramatically and is now almost exclusively Armenian.


Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar
Shahanshah of Persia

Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, (Persian: مظفرالدين شاه قاجار‎, Muhaffari’d-Dīn Shāh Qājār; 23 March 1853 – 3 January 1907) was the fifth Qajar king of Iran. He reigned between the years 1896 and 1907.
He is credited with the creation of the Iranian constitution, and often wrongly credited with the rise of the Persian Constitutional Revolution which took place immediately after his death.


Mar Benyamin XXIII Shimun

Mar Shimun XXI Benyamin
(1887– 3 March 1918) (Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܒܢܝܡܝܢ ܫܡܥܘܢ ܥܣܪܝܢ ܘܩܕܡܝܐ) was a Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.
He was born in 1887 in the village of Qochanis in the Hakkari Province, Ottoman Empire (modern-day southeastern Turkey). He was consecrated a Metropolitan on March 1, 1903 by Mar Shimun XVIII of Rubil, the Catholicos Patriarch who died on March 16, 1903. He succeeded his predecessor at the age of eighteen and occupied the patriarchal See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon at Qudchanis for 15 years. In March, 1918, Mar Benyamin along with 150 of his bodyguards were assassinated by Simko Shikak (Ismail Agha Shikak), a Kurdish agha, in the town of Salmas (Persia) under a truce flag (see Assyrian Genocide).


Petros Elia of Baz (Agha Petros)

Petros Elia of Baz (Syriac: ܐܝܠܝܐ ܦܹܛܪܘܼܣ) (April 1880 – 2 February 1932), better known as Agha Petros, was an Assyrian military leader during World War I.

Petros Elia was from the Lower Baz village, Ottoman Empire, but was born at Taftia in 1880. There he received his elementary education before attending a European missionary school in the Iranian city of Urmia. After finishing his studies, he went back to his village of Baz and became a teacher there. It was thanks to his fluency in numerous languages, including Syriac, Turkish, Arabic, French, Persian, Kurdish, English, and Russian, he was appointed by the Ottomans as a secretary, and as a Consul in Urmia briefly in 1909.

Malik Yosep Khoshaba

Malik Yosep Khoshaba (died 1952) was an Assyrian leader (Malik/Malka) of the ancient Bit-Tyari tribe (Ţyāré (Syriac: ܛܝܪܐ, Kurdish: Tîyar) is an Assyrian tribe of ancient origins, and a historical district within Hakkari) who played a significant role during the Assyrian war of independence during World War I.

Khoshaba led forces in counterattacks against the Ottoman Army and allied Kurdish troops during and after the period known as the Assyrian Genocide with some success. Khoshaba was known for his bravery, cruelty and military capabilities during this time.

Later in life however, Khoshaba became a figure of great controversy among Assyrians. He was seen by many (though not all) as a divisive figure, particularly with regards to undermining the cause of Assyrian autonomy within the newly created state of Iraq in 1932.

Khoshaba murdered his own wife and daughters, believing her to have been unfaithful to him. He escaped to Turkey, where he is rumoured to have killed a bear, while armed only with a knife.


Oshnavieh (Persian: اشنويه‎; Kurdish:'اشنۆ'شنۆ'شنه‌; also Romanized as Oshnavīyeh, Oshnooyeh, Ashnooyeh, Oshnovīeh, Oshnovīyeh, and Ushnūīyeh; also known as Ushnū) is a city in and the capital of Oshnavieh County, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 29,896, in 6,572 families.

Oshnaviyeh is located west of Lake Urmia about 1,300 metres above sea level. It lies on the border to the another Kurdish provinces in Turkey and Iraq. The city is surrounded by huge mountains who keep the mild weather even under the summers.

Oshnaviyeh is located in an agricultural area and has water flows from mountains entire the year. The most agricultural products are wheat, beetroots and main tree fruits like apple and grape.

Oshnaviyeh is a historic city and there are many historic sites from the Hurrian and Urartian periods onward. It likely corresponds to the ancient city of Suguniya which was attacked by Shalmaneser III of Assyria as recorded in his annals dealing with his accession year. The ethnic population of Oshnaviyeh is mostly Kurdish. In 2010 the population has fallen by more than a thousand people.