In addition to setting them up for double taxation, the Sultan also made Armenians responsible for kishlak, providing winter housing. In the 1800s, a Sultan issued a firman or edit that gave Kurds the right to demand kishlak. Because they shared the Sultan’s religion, he regarded this firman as a way to help his Muslim brothers.
The order gave a Kurdish family permission to demand housing from any Armenian family. And the selected household had to grant the Kurds the kishlak free of charge.
Nomadic shepherds on the Anatolian Plain of Ottoman Turkey, the Kurds’ usual homes were black, felt tents. In winter, an Armenian home was considerably warmer. Since most Armenians were farmers and craftsmen, they also had ample access to food and articles that improved the quality of daily life. So, of course, the Kurds took advantage of the firman ordering kishlak.
When the Kurds left the Armenian farms or villages in the spring, they never left empty-handed. They carried off whatever they wished, including daughters of the Armenian families. As was mentioned in a previous post, the Kurds killed the Armenian men who dared to object to the kidnappings.
The winter quartering ‘system’ established by the Sultan’s firman may have provided ‘affordable housing’ for the Kurds. But it was accomplished at the expense of the families, farms, and villages of Armenians. By governmental order, the Ottoman Empire’s Christians, its third class citizens, had to feed and house the Empire’s second class Muslim citizens, the Kurds.
In spite of the fact that numerous Armenians had hosted Kurdish families and willingly shared mountain pastures during the decades prior to 1915, Kurds still eagerly participated in the looting and slaughtering of their hosts and neighbors. In 1915, the Kurds showed no mercy when they took over Armenian homes and villages and means of making a living.