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The Armenian Revolutionary Movement

The Armenian Revolutionary Movement

By Louise Nalbandian

Armenian Historian LOUISE NALBANDIAN published her analysis of the Armenian Revolutionary Movement in 1963, several years before the Armenian lobbies began to spread their one-sided propaganda all over the world. The correlation between her matter-of-fact narration and the timing thereof should be considered in no way coincidental.

Below is an excerpt from The Armenian Revolutionary Movement: The Development of Armenian Political Parties Through the Nineteenth Century. Nalbandian talks about the founding of the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party and its adopted methods.

History of the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party, 1887-1890

“The Hunchakian Revolutionary Party was the first socialist party in Turkey and Persia. All its founders and theorists were Marxists. It was formed by seven Russian Armenian students who had left Russia to continue their higher education in universities in Western Europe. They were young persons, in their twenties, and were from well-to-do bourgeois families who were financially supporting them. In the course of this chapter these individuals, where necessary, will be more fully identified. None of them ever lived under the Turkish flag, yet they were personally concerned with the living conditions of their ethnic brothers in Turkish Armenia. For the purpose of furthering revolutionary activity in Turkish Armenia, the seven young Armenians formed what was later to be called the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party in Geneva, Switzerland, in August, 1887.”

“The Hunchak program advocated revolution as the only means of reaching the immediate objective. The arena of revolutionary activity was designated as Turkish Armenia. The Hunchaks said that the existing social organisation in Turkish Armenia could be changed by violence against the Turkish government and described the following methods:

Propaganda, Agitation, Terror, Organization, and Peasant and Workers Activities

Propaganda was to be directed to the people to educate them toward two goals. The party was to explain to them the basic reasons and proper time for revolution against the government, thereby indoctrinating them with the basic idea of revolution. This goal, however, was not sufficient in itself. The people had to have a knowledge of the social order that was to be established after the successful revolution.

Agitation and Terror were needed to “elevate the spirit of the people.” Demonstrations against the government, refusal to pay taxes, demands for reforms, and hatred of the aristocracy were part of the party’s agitation campaign. The people were also to be incited against their enemies and were to “profit” from the retaliatory actions of these same enemies.

Terror was to be used as a method of protecting the people and winning their confidence in the Hunchak program. The party aimed at terrorizing The Ottoman government, thus contributing toward its complete disintegration. The government itself was not to be the only focus of terroristic tactics. The Hunchaks wanted to annihilate the most dangerous of the Armenian and Turkish individuals who were then working for the government, as well as to destroy all spies and informers. To assist them in carrying out all of these terroristic acts, the party was to organize an exclusive branch, specifically devoted to performing acts of terrorism.

The Organization of the party was to be a centralized system directed by a central executive committee. The Hunchaks believed that the revolution could not be won by the participation of the party organization alone. They considered it absolutely essential to win the active support of the peasants and workers. There were to be two large revolutionary groups, one of peasants and the other of workers. Besides these separate groups, there would be guerrilla bands, composed of both peasants and workers, who would become fighting units during the anticipated revolution. The role of the peasants and workers was not to end after the victory, for the Hunchaks saw in these two groups the very basis of the society that was to be thereafter established. The peasants and workers were to protect the gains and interests of the people, and were to take the reins of government and rule according to democratic principles. The plan giving the details of these governing principles was to be published at a later date.”

The most opportune time to institute the general rebellion for carrying out the immediate objective was when Turkey was engaged in a war. The Hunchaks were ready to fight not only the Ottoman regime, but any other power that wished to dominate Turkish Armenia. The non-Armenians of Turkish Armenia were not overlooked. The party declared that in order to better the condition of the non-Armenians, it was necessary to get the sympathy of other minorities, such as the Assyrians and Kurds, for the revolutionary cause. These groups were to help bring about a revolution against the Turkish government when circumstances should be favorable.

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