Armenian national liberation movement
|Armenian national liberation movement|
clockwise: Battle of Holy Apostles Monastery leaders, Armenian volunteers in the Caucasian front during WWI, Van Resistance of 1915, Khanasor Expedition
|Armenian irregulars and volunteers (until 1918, 1921)
Armenian regular army (1918-20)
| Ottoman Empire
| Russian Empire (until 1914)
|Commanders and leaders|
Kevork Chavush †
|Abdul Hamid II
| Nicholas II
|Word War I|
The Armenian national liberation movement (Armenian: Հայ ազգային-ազատագրական շարժում) was the Armenian socio-political and militant movement from the late 1880s to early 1920s to re-establish an Armenian state in the Armenian Highland, controlled at the time by the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire.
The Armenian national movement developed with the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire; however the factors contributing to the emergence made the movement far more similar to that of the Greeks than those of other ethnic groups of the region. Aside from the individual heroes who sacrificed their lives for national liberation, the movement was principally led by three political parties: Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar Party, originally known as the Armenakan) and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), the largest and most influential of the three. The involvement of the European powers in the Armenian Question provided a powerful impetus to the previously suppressed aspiration for national liberation and led to the development of a national liberation ideology and a fundamental transformation in Armenian national identity.
Enlightenment among Armenians, sometimes called as renaissance of the Armenian people, came from two sources. The first source was the Armenian monks belonging to the Mekhitarist Order. The second source was the socio-political developments of the 19th century, mainly the French Revolution and establishment of "Russian revolutionary thought." In Russian Armenia, Mekhitarists emphasized importance of the teaching of Armenian history and language. Nersesian College in Tiflis (1823) and Lazarian College in the Moscow-Lazarevski Institute (1816) were the foremost educational institutions in developing national awareness. Among the pioneers Mikayel Nalbantian, Khachadour Abovian and Stepan Nazarian are to be counted. They championed the Armenian cause, and fought for its recognition. In the Ottoman Empire the conditions of Armenians improved owing to the "Tanzimat reforms" and better transport.
The Armenian National Constitution defined the condition of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, but also it had regulations defining the authority of the Patriarch. The constitution of the Armenian National Assembly was seen as a milestone by progressive Armenians. Besides these improvements a second development was the introduction by Protestant missionaries of elementary education, colleges and other institutions of learning. Communications improved with the starting of Armenian newspapers. Books about Armenian history enabled a comparison of the past with current conditions and expanded readers' horizons. This was part of an evolution in Armenian political consciousness from purely cultural romanticism to a programme for action.
During the 19th century, along with the other national movements, a nascent Armenian intelligentsia promoted the use of new concepts in society with a particularly Armenian import. These concepts were developed by an intelligentsia which had studied in Western Europe under the influence of the legacy of the French Revolution of 1789. They were highly educated (doctors, academics, etc.) who espoused a democratic-liberal ideology and the concept of the rights of man. The second wave come with the emergence of Russian revolutionary thought. At the end of 19th century a movement was based on a socialist ideology, specifically in its Marxist variant, see Armenian Revolutionary Federation. There was a major problem, in that materialism and class struggle did not directly apply to the realities (Socioeconomics) of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as much as to those in the Russian Armenia.
In 1885, the Armenakan was established in Van by Mëkërtich Portukalian, who later went into exile in Marseilles but kept in touch with local leaders, and published a journal of political and social enlightenment titled L'Armenie. The Armenians of Van continued to develop the political principles behind Armenian nationalism, in secret. The party's aim soon become to 'win for the Armenians the right to rule themselves, through revolution'. Their view on how to liberate Armenia from the Ottoman Empire was that it should be through the press, national awakening and unarmed resistance.
In 1885, the Armenian Patriotic Society of Europe was established in Chesilton Road, Fulham, with its headquarters there. Its goal was that the Armenian Diaspora should help those in their native land, both financially and raise Armenian political consciousness about its subject condition.
In 1887, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (Hentchak, was the first Socialist party in the Ottoman Empire and in Persia by Avetis Nazarbekian, Mariam Vardanian, Gevorg Gharadjian, Ruben Khan-Azat, Christopher Ohanian, Gabriel Kafian and Manuel Manuelian, a group of college students who met in Geneva, Switzerland, with the goal to gain Armenia's independence from the Ottoman Empire. Hunchak means "Bell" in English, and was taken by party members to represent "awakening, enlightenment, and freedom."
In 1889 the Young Armenia Society was founded by Kristapor Mikayelian in Tbilisi. The Young Armenia Society organised Fedayee campaigns into Ottoman territory. The Russian Empire attacked Ottoman Armenia in Gugunian Expedition. Its aims were the carrying out reprisals against Kurds believed to be guilty of persecuting Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The society believed that the Russians would assist in the creation of an autonomous Armenian province under Russian rule.
In 1890 the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) was founded in Tiflis. Its members armed themselves into fedayee groups to defend Armenian villages from widespread oppression, attacks and persecution of the Armenians, its initial aim was to guarantee reforms in the Armenian provinces and to gain eventual autonomy, it being seen as the only solution to save the people from Ottoman oppression and massacres.
Significant European and American movements began with the Armenian diaspora in France and in the U.S. as early as in the 1890s. The previous migrations were minor or and had not been statistically significant. Various political parties and benevolent unions, such as branches for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF or Dashnaktsutiun), the Social-Democrat Henchagian party (Hunchak), and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) which was initially founded in Constantinople, were established wherever there was a considerable number of Armenians.
Abdul Hamid II
There were previous Armenian resistances within the Ottoman Empire. Bashkale Resistance was the bloody encounter of three revolutionaries of Armenakan on May 1889. Bashkale was a town in the Van Province. The comrades Karapet Koulaksizian, Hovhannes Agripasian, and Vardan Goloshian were stopped and demanded that they disarm. On them were two documents addressed to Koulaksizian, one from Avetis Patiguian of London and the other from Mëkërtich Portukalian, in Marseille. Ottoman's believed that the men were members of a large revolutionary apparatus and the discussion was reflected on newspapers, (Eastern Express, Oriental Advertiser, Saadet, and Tarik) and the responses were on the Armenian papers. In some Armenian circles, this event was considered as a martyrdom and brought other armed conflicts. The Kum Kapu demonstration occurred in the Kumkapı district of Constantinople on July 27, 1890. The cause of the demonstrations were "..to awaken the maltreated Armenians and to make the Sublime Porte fully aware of the miseries of the Armenians." The Hunchaks had came to a conclusion that the demonstrations at Kum Kapu were unsuccessful. Similar demonstration on a lesser scale followed throughout most of the 1890s. The Sasun resistance of 1894 was the resistance of the Hunchak militia of the Sassoun region. The Zeitun Rebellion took place in 1895, during the Hamidian massacres. The Defense of Van was the Armenian population in Van defense against the Ottoman Empire in June, 1896.The Khanasor Expedition (Armenian: Խանասորի Արշաւանքը) was the Armenian militia's response on July 25, 1897 to the Defense of Van, where Mazrik tribe ambushed a squad of Armenian defenders and mercilessly slaughtered them. The Sassoun Uprising was the resistance of the Armenian militia in the Sassoun region. Mourat together with his companion, Sepouh, had fought at Sasoun, in 1904, and had taken part in the Armenian and Tartar clashes of 1905 and 1906 in the Caucasus.
Second Constitutional Era, 1908-1914
The Armenians supported the Young Turk Revolution, as it was just natural that these concepts (tendencies, attitudes and feelings) were present in varying proportions among Armenians with the turn of 20th century ARF, in the early 20th century was socialists, and marxist which can be seen from the party's first program. After the revolution, the Ottoman Empire in the second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire) was struggling to keep its territories and promoting the Ottomanism among its citizens. During the same time the Armenian Revolutionary Federation was moving out of this context and developing, what was just a normal extension of its national freedom concept, the concept of the "Independent Armenian State". With this national transformation Armenian Revolutionary Federation's activities become a national cause.
Edict on Armenian church property 1903-1904
The tsar's Russification programme reached its peak with the decree of June 12, 1903 confiscating the property of the Armenian Church. Mkrtich Khrimian (Catholicos of Armenia) revolted against the tsar. When the tsar refused to back down the Armenians turned to the Dashnaks. The Armenian clergy had previously been very wary of the Dashnaks, condemning their socialism as anti-clerical. However, ARF acquired significant support and sympathy in Russian administration. Mainly because of the ARF's attitude to the Ottoman Empire, the party enjoyed the support of the central Russian administration, as tsarist and ARF foreign policy had the same alignment until 1903. The edict on Armenian church property was faced by strong ARF opposition, because it perceived a tsarist threat to Armenian national existence. In 1904, the Dashnak congress specifically extended their programme to support the rights of Armenians in the Russian Empire as well as Ottoman Turkey.
As a result, the ARF leadership decided to actively defend Armenian churches. The ARF formed a Central Committee for Self-Defence in the Caucasus and organised a series of protests. At Gandzak the Russian army responded by firing into the crowd, killing ten, and further demonstrations were met with more bloodshed. The Dashnaks and Hunchaks began a campaign of assassination against tsarist officials in Transcaucasia and they succeeded in wounding Prince Golitsin. The events convinced Tsar Nicholas that he must reverse his policies. He replaced Golitsin with the Armenophile governor Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov and returned the property of the Armenian Church. Gradually order was restored and the Armenian bourgeoisie once more began to distance itself from the revolutionary nationalists.
Armenian-Azeri massacres 1904-1905
Unrest in Transcaucasia, which also included major strikes, reached a climax with the widespread uprisings throughout the Russian Empire known as the 1905 Revolution. 1905 saw a wave of mutinies, strikes and peasant uprisings across imperial Russia and events in Transcaucasia were particularly violent. In Baku, the centre of the Russian oil industry, class tensions mixed with ethnic rivalries. The city was almost wholly composed of Azeris and Armenians, but the Armenian middle-class tended to have a greater share in the ownership of the oil companies and Armenian workers generally had better salaries and working conditions than the Azeris. In December 1904, after a major strike was declared in Baku, the two communities began fighting each other on the streets and the violence spread to the countryside.
Tribune of People, 1912
In January 1912, a total of 159 Armenians were charged with membership of an anti-"Revolutionary" organisation. During the revolution Armenian revolutionaries were split into "Old Dashnaks", allied with the Kadets and "Young Dashnaks" aligned with the SRs. To determine the position of Armenians all forms of Armenian national movement put into trial. The entire Armenian intelligentsia, including writers, physicians, lawyers, bankers, and even merchants" on trial. When the tribune finished its work, 64 charges were dropped and the rest were either imprisoned or exiled for varying periods
World War I
The biggest achievement is the Armenian governing of the Administration for Western Armenia with the Aram Manukian and keeping the Ottomans out with the Armenian volunteer units within the Russian Caucasus Army, as well as Armenian militia.
Seventy year old priest leading Armenian Fedayee
Armenian at the Siege of Van
Defenders of the Urfa Resistance
French-Armenian Agreement (1916) October 27, 1916, was the political and military accord regarding the support of the Armenian Resistance on the side of the allies in World War I. The aim of creating the Legion was to allow Armenians' contribution to the liberation of Cilicia region in Ottoman Empire and help them to realize their national aspirations of creating a state in that region.
1916, 1917: French Armenian Legion
Republic of Armenia
The first national republic was achieved by the Armenians under the Russian control which devised a national congress at October 1917. The convention in Tiflis was concluded in September 1917 with delegates from former Romanov realm (203), which 103 belonged to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. When the first Republic of Armenia (Democratic Republic of Armenia) was proclaimed in 1918, the ARF became the ruling party.
However, despite their tight grip on power (Drastamat Kanayan (Ministry of Defense) and Aram Manukian (Ministry of Interior)), the ARF was unable to stop the impending Communist invasion from the north, which culminated with a Soviet takeover in 1920, although there was also a large movement of Armenian communists who aided the Soviet control. The ARF was banned, its leaders exiled and many of its members dispersed to other parts of the world. The original plan for the Armenian army was to consist of Tovmas Nazarbekian's 60,000 soldiers alongside with Andranik Pasha's 30,000 fedayees.
- West, Barbara A. (2009). Encyclopedia of the peoples of Asia and Oceania. New York: Facts On File. p. 53. ISBN 9781438119137.
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- The Armenian Genocide: History, Politics, Ethics By Richard G. Hovannisian p.129
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- "Armenian Revolutionary Federation Founded, Armenian history timeline". Retrieved 2006-12-25.
- Nalbandian, Armenian Revolutionary Movement, pp. 145–7.
- Note the picture "ARF Fedayees" that shows fedayees operating under the ARF flag that read "Liberty or Death"
- Louise Nalbandian, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement: The Development of Armenian Political Parties Through the Nineteenth Century, University of California Press, 1963, p. 100.
- Darbinian, op. cit., p. 123; Adjemian, op. cit., p. 7; Varandian, Dashnaktsuthian Patmuthiun, I, 30; Great Britain, Turkey No. 1 (1889), op. cit., Inclosure in no. 95. Extract from the "Eastern Express" of June 25, 1889, pp. 83-84; ibid., no. 102. Sir W. White to the Marquis of Salisbury-(Received July 15), p. 89; Great Britain, Turkey No. 1 (1890), op. cit., no. 4. Sir W. White to the Marquis of Salisbury-(Received August 9), p. 4; ibid., Inclosure 1 in no. 4, Colonel Chermside to Sir W. White, p. 4; ibid., Inclosure 2 in no. 4. Vice-Consul Devey to Colonel Chermside, pp. 4-7; ibid., Inclosure 3 in no. 4. M. Patiguian to M. Koulaksizian, pp. 7-9; ibid., Inclosure 4 in no.
- Khan-Azat, op. cit., VI (February 1928), pp. 124-125
- The Armenian revolutionary movement: the development of Armenian political parties through the nineteenth century By Louise Nalbandian, page 119
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- Documents for the history of the ARF, II, 2nd Edition, Beirut, 1985, pp. 11-14
- Dasnabedian, Hratch, "The ideological creed" and "The evolution of objectives" in "A BALANCE-SHEET OF THE NINETY YEARS", Beirut, 1985, pp. 73-103
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- Abraham, Richard (1990). Alexander Kerensky: The First Love of the Revolution. New York: Columbia University Press, pg. 53,54