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"The Armenian Social-Democratic Hentchakist Party" by Hagop Turabian

This article entitled "The Armenian Social-Democratic Hentchakist Party" by Hagop Turabian, for the journal 'Ararat' (London), appeared in three parts; Vol. 3 No. 34, April 1916, No. 35, May 1916, and No. 37, July 1916, and presents the historical and concise account of the foundation and activities of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party. Additionally we consider that several issues in the following article are at the present time still a factor of domestic and foreign policy for both the Armenian people and the fledgling Armenian nation.

The Armenian Social-Democratic Hentchakist Party

Hagop Turabian
 

Part I

The first Armenian political party, and at the same time the first Socialist party in Turkey and in Persia, to be evolved, has been that of the Social-Democratic Hentchakists. The history of this party is not only intimately intertwined with the modern history of our nation, and with the Armenian revolutionary movements, of which it was the first-fruits and ever one of the chief promoters, but also with the great political events that have within recent years, subverted Turkey, the Caucasus and Persia, in so far that the party has been fighting against all three fronts. Its action, national as well as socialistic, has extended so widely and has been of so varied a character that I shall be obliged to drop all subsidiary phases of its activity and confine myself to its main lines of procedure.

To be able to formulate a just idea of tile causes that brought about the foundation of the Armenian S.- D. Hentchakist Party, it is necessary that one should call to mind the great historical events that happened in tile Balkans in tile nineteenth century and the lamentable and desperate situation of the Armenian population in the bloody empire of the Crescent.

Let us throw a rapid glance over that situation.

The intellectual, talented, progressive, peace-loving and Christian nations of European as well as Asiatic Turkey were, by fatal misfortune, compelled to live among the ignorant, parasitic, barbarous and fanatical Mongolians, who carried on their existence by pillaging, murdering and robbing their industrious and prosperous neighbours. The Turks may have been successful as conquerors, but as rulers they have never shown the slightest aptitude. Wherever they have become absolute masters, there progress and civilisation have always come to a halt, and injustice and intolerance have flourished. Instead of endeavouring to reconcile the heterogeneous elements that they subjected to serfdom by their gory yataghans and their trenchant scimitars, they persecuted and tyrannised over them so outrageously, that even the most pacific and the most loyal of them were ultimately, and through sheer desperation, driven to resistance and revolt. On this the fanatical Moslems and savage Bashibazouks, fired with frenzied hatred inherent in Islamism, with their lust for unprotected women and the prospects of loot and plunder, pounced upon their victims and devastated the hapless land with a whirlwind of destructive fire and a deluge of innocent blood.

And there was a time when the Christian subjects of the Ottoman Sultans, just as the European serfs of the Middle Ages, humbly considered themselves, their brides and their daughters, their goods and chattels, to be, by divine ordination, the absolute property of their lairds and masters. And so, with Oriental fatalism, they seemed, always meekly to submit to the immoral lusts, the crushing taxations and the arbitrary confiscations of the Turkish Pasha, the Kurdish Bey and the Circassian Chieftain with their greedy hosts of satellites. But, thanks to European schools and colleges, which, in spite of all Turkish obstacles, had been established in various parts of the Turkish empire, this blissful millennium of Ottoman misrule gradually came under the more critical contemplation of the silent sufferers. The new generations, enlightened by the liberal teachings of their European tutors, and imbued with modern ideas regarding the inalienable rights of human beings and the sanctity of their hearths and homes, began to protest and even to resist the tyrannies of their oppressors, often dying bravely in defence of the honour of their wives and daughters. The astonished Turk, accustomed to tearful submission, called these people ungrateful rebels and redoubled his persecutions. Driven into desperate resistance and self-defence, the subject nations were gradually awakened by their nascent ideas of patriotism and nationalism. Fired with new ambitions of freedom and independence, they finally resorted to open insurrection - hopeless and forlorn at first, but exultingly triumphant at the end.

Thus, in the course of a century, the incorrigible Turk has been forced to acknowledge, in succession, tile absolute independence of Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian massacres in the eighties of the last century were once more agitating the horror-stricken civilised nations of Europe. Russia, urged by the Slavic world, and especially by her Near Eastern interests, declared war on Turkey with the assent of Europe. The Treaty San Stefano, which put an end to hostilities, not only freed Bulgaria from the abominable Turkish yoke, but also contained certain, articles to the advantage of the small nations which were still inhabiting portions of the Turkish empire.

The XVIth Article of the above Treaty, which, in the Congress of Berlin, was transformed into the LXIst Article, was intended to guarantee the life, the liberty and the property of Turkish Armenians. But no sooner the Russian armies retreated from Armenia, then the methodic massacres, pillage and every description of atrocities were let loose over the country under the high protecting surveillance of the Hamidian Government. The savage Kurdish hordes were, with impunity, ravaging once again in every part of Greater Armenia. In vain the religious representatives of the nation with certain Armenian intellectuals went to implore the succour of Russia, "the defenders of the Christians in Turkey." In vain they turned their eyes towards "civilised" Europe and knocked at the doors of her statesmen with the LXIst Article of the Berlin treaty in their hands. "Christian" Russia and "civilised" Europe were not in a mood to trouble themselves for a "scrap of paper," and were tolerating with wonderful impassivity the strangulation of an entire people, which was both Christian and civilised.

Kamar Katiba, Raffi and other renowned Armenian poets and authors, as well as such indefatigable patriots as Khrimean, Minas Tchcraz, Portukalian, with their poetries, their speeches and articles, were doing their best to inflame the sparkle of patriotism in the hearts of Armenians who, unfortunately, had not yet stripped off their cloak of servitude. And it was under the propaganda of these patriots that a few "self-defence" bands were formed in various parts of Greater and Lesser Armenia; but it was not possible for them, owing to the lack of a clear programme, a guiding hand and harmonious action, to render any valuable service to the cause of suffering Armenia, even though they were able to show, from time to time, such personal heroism as to merit the high esteem of every Armenian patriot.

It was at such a chaotic period in our national affairs that a group of Armenian students, imbued with new and high ideals, set to work to publish at Geneva in Switzerland in 1887 the first number of The Hentchak, which was destined to become, later, the Central organ of the powerful Hentchakist organisation. The founders of The Hentchak (this word in Armenian means simply "The Bell") were ringing the bell of alarm to awaken the slumbering Armenians all over the world. They were endeavouring to teach our compatriots to place all their hopes on their own abilities and might, and not to rely too greatly on the succour either of "Christian" Russia or of "civilised" Europe, whose pre-occupations were confined largely to the egoistic interests of their own Capitalist Classes.

Avetis Nazarbekian, Miss Marie Vardanian (Maro) - who afterwards became Mrs. Nazarbek - Roupen Khanazatian and two other comrades, the founders of The Hentchak1, were presenting to the Armenian people not only a complete political programme, but at the same time one that was based on the foundations of political economy, which was distinctly of a socialistic turn. They were, indeed, tracing the paths of political and economical liberty for those who were ready to unfurl the red banner of Revolution.

The views, thus disseminated, drew groups which became more and more numerous, not only in Turkey but also in Europe and America, and these rallied to the doctrines of the new revolutionary Journal. It was due to the union of these groups, forming the nucleus, which led to the constitution, in 1890, of a Party, which assumed the name of The Hentchakist Revolutionary Party, from the name of its organ The Hentchak.

The new Party laid itself out to pursue the political and economic emancipation of the entire Armenian working people; and with this in view it placed in the forefront of its propaganda two objects, viz., (1) the INDEPENDENCE OF ARMENIA as the Immediate object, and (2) the inculcation of the spirit of SOCIALISM as the Final Object.

The founders and the theorists of the Hentchakist Party were all Marxists, who were consequently convinced that the emancipation of the working and producing classes, which form the great majority of mankind, can only be complete when the workers and producers themselves become the owners of all the forces and means of production. The emancipation of the producing classes must, therefore, mean the emancipation of every man and woman, that is to say, the complete social and economic freedom of humanity from the yoke of the capitalist class, which, though it forms the minority, yet oppresses the majority.

By adopting Socialism as a final object, the Hentchakist Party were, therefore, aiming at the liberation of all Armenians suffering under three yokes at the same time - in Turkey, in Persia, and in Russia; and this led to scissions in the Party, through tile attitude of the anti-Socialist elements, whose aim was to leave Socialism out of the Party programme. They were also urging tile adoption of a friendly attitude towards Russia, while the Party was fighting in the Caucasus on socialistic grounds, on the plea that the Armenians of Russia were already enjoying political freedom to a certain degree. It was under all these circumstances that the formidable strike of Bacou, in l904, was organised and conducted by the Hentchakist Party in co-operation with the Russian Social-Democratic and Labour Party.

Those who deserted the Party founded an off-shoot under the name of Reformed Hentchakists, whose actions were devoid of any importance. Then, to avoid all confusion, the Fifth General Congress held in Paris in 1905 decided that the Party should be called The Hentchakist Soc.-Dem. Party, an appellation which was again changed to The Social-Democratic Hentchakist Party - as it is called to-day - by a resolution of the Sixth General Congress held in Constantinople in 1909.

But the theorists of the Party were not Utopians or fanatical doctrinaires who would isolate themselves within the meshes of Socialistic phraseology. They were conscious that the Armenian people were everywhere living under absolute monarchico-political regimes, the administrative, economical and fiscal systems of which were conducting them to ruin and destruction; they were also living at an epoch when, on the one hand, the system of capitalist production was beginning to make itself sensibly felt, while, on the other hand, primitive forms of production were tending to disappear for ever.

Moreover, the last vestiges of a feudal organisation were preventing the due development and the progress of the producing and proletariat classes. Under such conditions, for an Armenian Socialist, the establishment of Socialistic institutions in Armenia could not be otherwise than a Final Object, and, therefore, to this end, an Immediate Object was presenting itself for his actions and as supplying the contributing influences.

In the next issue of Ararat I will speak of this Immediate Object and of the means adopted to attain it by The Hentchakist Revolutionary Party, which has played so prominent a part in our struggle for liberty and independence.

Part II

The Immediate Object of the Hentchakist Revolutionary Party consisted in: revolutionising and destroying the regime of absolutism; enfranchising the Armenian people, lifting them out of their state of servitude, and allowing them political possibilities for taking part in all political matters; suppressing all obstacles that were working against their economical development and cultural progress; creating such political conditions as would enable the working class to act freely in the direction of their own bent and their personal needs; improving the hard conditions of labour; securing class consciousness; enabling the people to organise themselves as a separate political body and thus facilitating their social efforts, which would contribute to their progression towards the Final Object.

With these objects in view, the Hentchakist Revolutionary Party decided to fight for the abolition of Turkey's autocratic regime, and to create new institutions with a democratic Constitution whose fundamental features would be the following :-

(i) A general Assembly, having full powers, elected by direct and general popular suffrage.
(ii) Provincial and Communal autonomy.
(iii) Equality before the law of all citizens, without distinction of nationality, religion or sex.
(iv) Complete freedom of press, conscience and meetings.
(v) The institution of Habeas Corpus as a safeguard of liberty.
(vi) The separation of church and State.
(vii) The general arming of the entire manhood into a popular militia, in time of peace.
(viii) The establishment of a secular and obligatory system of public instruction, etc.

And to ameliorate the economical situation of Armenians, it was essential for the Hentchakist Revolutionary Party, besides securing the above-mentioned political rights, also to bring to fruition the following reforms:-

(a) The abolition of the existing system of Contributions and the establishment of a progressive system.
(b) The total abrogation of indirect contributions.
(c) The liberation of peasants from debts of all descriptions.
(d) The enactment of special laws for the protection of labour against speculations, etc.

For the realisation of their immediate Object the Party elected to act solely in Turkey, because:-

(1) Turkish Armenians represented the majority of the Armenian nation; while in Turkish Armenia was comprised, the largest portion of our national land;
(2) the cause of Turkish Armenians, through the Treaty of Berlin and other international agreements, had already entered within the positive circuit, of International Rights, and had been officially recognised by the Great Powers;
(3) the autocratic and barbarous Turkish Government was subjecting the Armenian people in Turkey to intolerable political, economic and social oppression;
(4) that abominable system was in every way rendering impossible the politico-economical and social progression of the Armenian people, and constituted, at the same time, a continuous menace to their national and human existence;
(5) the downfall of the Turkish Empire was inevitable, as it was impossible that an Empire which was politically, economically and financially in a most deplorable, disorderly and decaying state could exist much longer, when the European Powers themselves were doing their utmost, by their frequent interferences and attacks, to bring about the fatal hour of its dissolution.

With all these considerations before them, the Hentchakist Revolutionary Party deemed it a historical necessity that, in the first place, all revolutionary activity should be confined to the defence of the Turkish-Armenian cause, and to its solution in accordance with their own Immediate Object. Secondly, that the sphere of its revolutionary activity should, on that account, be restricted to Turkish Armenia. And, thirdly, that the destiny of Turkish Armenia and Turkish Armenians should, once for all, be detached from the destiny of the Turkish Empire - meaning, in fact, Armenian National Independence, which was to form an essential and the foremost condition of the Party's Immediate Object.

With a politico-economical Programme of such a nature, the newly formed Revolutionary Party was setting itself the task of delivering our compatriots living under the yoke of the Turks, who were absolute masters of their outraged rights. Young, ardent, active, talented leaders, conscious of their sacred duty towards their martyred Fatherland, full of love for their brethren in slavery, proud of the glorious past and broken-hearted over the present of suffering Armenia, set themselves to work and brought about an almost-miraculous change. Turkish Armenians, who had been described by some European writers as lacking in virile power, energy and force, and fit only to be butchered like defenceless sheep, after being organized and disciplined under the red flag of the Hentchakist Party, began to take heart, to assert their self-consciousness, and stripped off their cloaks of menial servitude. The Rayahs of yesterday, instead of bowing their heads as of yore, began to raise them and to protest vigorously against the outrageous injustices of their oppressors. Instead of submitting without murmur, they began to refuse to fulfil the interminable demands of corrupt Turkish officials and to condemn their wilful caprices.

The Hentchakist Revolutionary Party had not been long in existence before it became a formidable organisation, and spread its ramifications and its authority over a wide expanse of Turkish Armenia. It was the means of creating a splendid series of armed insurrections which continued to embarrass the Turkish authorities and to concentrate on them the attention of the whole of Europe. These were known as the Demonstrations at Constantinople (1890 and 1895), the Insurrections at Sassoun (1894), at Zeitoun (1895), at Van (1896), and the Revolutionary Movements in Leaser Armenia - at Marsovan, Amasaia, Yozgad, Kaisserieh, etc. (1892-1896). I omit details of these activities as they are fairly well known and, besides, I am indebted to the hospitality of Ararat in enabling me to place these articles before its readers, and it would be an abuse of my privilege to unduly extend them.

Through the above noted insurrections it is true that the precious blood of the Armenian people was abundantly shed, but the object of those risings has been attained. After the conflagration at Sassoun a new Armenian nation was born, a young combatant nation imbued with the resolute determination to put an end to the Turkish carnival of rape, murder, pillage and violation, and to the Turkification policy of the Sultan Hamid, which was systematically and mercilessly applied in Armenia under the tolerant gaze of the Signatory Powers of the Berlin Treaty. It is true that after the Sassoun insurrection these Powers hastened to occupy themselves seriously with the Armenian Question, and elaborated the famous Reform Programme of May 11th, 1895. This was presented to the Sultan Hamid for immediate acceptance and signature, but the incorrigible Turk would have none of it. Mere words he never listened to - what he did understand was brute force, before which alone he would kneel in submission. But how was this to be brought about - were not the Great Powers themselves rent by divergent views which made the application of coercive measures impossible? The Sublime Porte was not slow to profit from such a state of affairs and began its policy of Oriental tergiversation, even having the audacity at times to question the right of the Great Powers to interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey2.

It was to protest against the non-acceptance of the Armenian Reform Programme that the Hentchakiat Party organised the second Demonstration at Constantinople (18/30th Sept., 1895). "It has at least scored a first success," wrote The Times in its editorial of October 3rd, 1895, commenting on the Hentchakist Demonstration, and gave at the same time the following advice to Abdul Hamid: - "He must know well that it is only by complying with the advice of the Powers that he can hope to avoid a repetition of scenes painful and even perilous to himself and not without danger to his Empire."

The Sultan gives way, bows before the force of revolution, and signs the Reform Programme presented to him by England, France and Russia (the Triple Alliance having declared its disinterestedness in the Armenian Reform Question).

It would not be without interest to quote the following appreciative remarks from The Times of October 4th, 1895, on the events that had Just happened :-

"In commenting briefly on the Stamboul riots yesterday we ventured to predict that the sound of gunshot within close proximity of the Imperial Palace would have more influence on a Sovereign of Abdul Hamid's peculiar temperament than all the representations of friendly diplomacy. The event has, within twenty-four hours, fulfilled our-prophecy..... One may without too much optimism assume that His Majesty himself has been brought, by the events of the last few days to a more intelligent and liberal frame of mind…"3

It was in such eloquent words that the greatest organ of England, nay, of the world, rendered homage to the Hentchakist Party, whose action in Constantinople had had more influence on Abdul Hamid than all the representations of friendly diplomacy. Besides, this victory of the Hentchakists was the means, not only of stimulating the enthusiasm of Armenians all over the world, who seemed to be carried breast-high on the waves of expectation, but it also affected our European champions, who began to predict that at last the dawn of a bright future was near at hand on the murky horizon of martyred Armenia.

"There are grounds for hoping that we may be approaching a settlement at last," was announced by The Times in its editorial of October 16th, 1895. But, alas! these good tidings were not realised. The Reform programme of May, 1895, remained a dead letter as the 61st Article of the Treaty of Berlin has remained to this day. The three Powers, which were the authors of the Programme, were not in accord as to the use of force on Sultan Hamid for the execution of that Programme in the Armenian vilayets. The European Concert thus once more proclaimed its failure, and affirmed thereby the veracity of Hentchakist principles - that Armenians should place all their hopes on themselves, and not rely to any great extent on European diplomacy for the salvation of Armenia.4

"The Great Assassin," deriving encouragement thereupon from treacherous neighbouring Empires, directed the General Massacres of Armenians, satisfied in his own mind that such a bloody orgy would be the only means for putting an end to the Armenian Question, which seemed to him as a suspended meteor in the sky, an ever-present portent menacing dire catastrophes to Turkey.

In the history of the world there will not be found such dark pages, whereon are registered so many tragic memorials as the general massacres of Armenians in 1895-96. Those were indeed, gloomy years of slaughter and mourning for the Armenian nation. Diplomat-ridden Europe shut her eyes and hardened her heart to her solemn obligations, her main desire being to preserve the integrity of that decomposing carcase in order that she may accomplish its partition under more favourable circumstances. Our friends in Europe, after a few vain protests, maintained silence; even The Times (Sept. 16th, 1895), which, but a few days before the massacres, was uttering the following words of solemn warning to the Sultan, was among them:-

"It ought to be plain to a ruler so astute as the Sultan that this country is in earnest, and that if driven to take active steps, it will be practically the mandatory of Europe. In these circumstances it is absolutely puerile to seek encouragement in resistance from fine distinctions between the attitudes of different Powers."

The Red Sultan, the nefarious tyrant, had decreed that the love of Liberty and the revolutionary spirit among Armenians was to be drowned in an ocean of blood, but he was cruelly mistaken in the trend of the times. The Armenian Question had, indeed, received a crushing blow, but it was not dead, nor could it die, because its causes were still in existence and the Armenian people, despite all the dreadful, calamities that had overtaken them, had not lost their vitality. From the depths of their extensive ruin were proudly raising their heads valiant Zeytoun and courageous Van, with the Flag of Revolution lifted high in their hands, inspiring new hopes, new fervour and a new spirit for stricken Armenia.

It was the Hentchakist Party that organised the famous and now historical insurrection of Zeytoun (Nov. 1st, 1895), which routed the Turkish armies composed of 110,000 men. The future victor of Greece, Edhem Pasha, who had promised the Sultan to reduce Zeytoun to ashes within forty-eight hours, was compelled to avow his defeat, and Sultan Hamid demanded the intervention of the Great Powers. Zeytoun accepted the mediation of the latter, and a Treaty composed of 16 Articles was signed. The Hentchakist leaders were sent to Europe with the honours of war. Zeytoun obtained certain privileges and a Christian Governor.

In the following appreciation by Mr. James Bryce, which honours the name of that city, the Armenian people and the Party which organised and conducted that insurrection, may be summed up the heroic place in history which Zeytoun has carved out for herself :-

"A few years ago the Armenians showed in Zeytoun such a heroic resistance that if it could be known thoroughly in Europe, the name of Zeytoun would be as famous as some of the cities of Ancient Greece."5

Part III

The general massacres of 1895-96 clearly demonstrated to the Hentchakist Party and to all far-seeing Armenians that Russia would not tolerate the creation of an autonomous Armenia6, France in Near Eastern questions was always marching in the foot-steps of her great Ally, while England, isolated as she was, had no other course but to bow before the will of Russia. Those famous words of the late Lord Salisbury - the British fleet was not in a position to cross the Taunts Mountains - are still, we believe, fresh in the minds of our readers. That declaration was the death, signal for hundreds of thousands of Armenians. Though it may sound strange today to some ears, it is, nevertheless, a historical fact that, at that critical period, German diplomacy was more favourable for the settlement of the Armenian Question than the diplomacy of the Empires working in our cause, with what political dreams is best known to them7. The present war has however, proved that with an autonomous Armenia, Russia would have had a "friendly and powerful Bulgaria" on her frontier.

As the intelligent reader will see, it was through the Oriental policy of the Powers, and not through the Socialistic programme or the demonstrations of the Hentchakist Party (as insincere critics of the Armenian Revolution pretend) that the Armenian Question did not obtain its solution, while the Armenian nation was obliged to fight single-handed in the clutches of its executioners.

The Hentchakist Party, taking into consideration the new attitude of the Powers, decided that every species of isolated action should be abandoned, while serious preparations were being made for a general insurrection in all parts of Turkish Armenia, when a favourable moment - such as a declaration of war by a Power against Turkey, or the rising of Macedonians, Albanians, etc., should present itself.

Unfortunately for the Armenians, that wise decision was not acted on by the other parties as well, and the Hentchakist Party, through internal troubles, failed to make much progress. This reaction had a deleterious effect not only among the disappointed Armenians, but also in the Party itself. It is no humiliation for a political Party to confess its faults, while at the same time taking a just pride in the noble acts it has performed. The year 1896 proved to be fatal not only for the Armenian nation, but also for the Hentchakist Party, which had summoned a General Congress to be held in London for the purpose of outlining its new tactics. A certain number of the delegates were hostile to Socialism and to the Russian-Armenian members of the Central Committee, considering them incapable of directing with ability the proposed insurrection in Turkish Armenia, while others sided with the Central Committee, and so the rupture within the Party became inevitable. Six years later, in 1902, a reconciliation was officially signed between the schismatics and the Hentchakist Party, only to be broken again in 1903; and this time the rupture was even more disastrous than the previous one, as it conduced to assassinations in the Caucasus, Switzerland, England, Egypt and in the United States… The moment does not appear opportune, nor is it profitable to dwell longer on these misfortunes which were, indeed, the darkest pages in the history of the Armenian Revolution and of the Hentchakist Party, a Party which had been formed for a noble purpose and had accomplished most heroic deeds.

*       *       *

In the Caucasus the Hentchakist Party has also played a prominent part, though it has never been so powerful there as the Dashnakists, because the entire attention of the Party had been absorbed in Turkish Armenia till 1896, and moreover its Socialistic programme was not palatable to the wealthy Armenians and bourgeon intellectuals in Russia, who were inclined to work in the Caucasus on nationalistic lines, which gave rise to enmities between Armenians and Georgians, between Armenians and Tartars; and the late Prince Galitzin amply profited by this state of affairs, and even encouraged it to the extent of its culminating in the Armeno-Tartar shocks of 1905-1906. The Hentchakist Party has not only shown its active participation in these as well as in all the revolutionary troubles of Russia, in agreement with the Russian Soc.-Dem. Labour Party, but has also combated the russification policy of Galitzin, going even to the extent of brute force, and so influencing to a great extent the; decision of the Russian Government to restore to the Armenian notion its ecclesiastical properties in the Caucasus which had been confiscated by order of the Czar on the advice of the Viceroy Galitzin. This is not, however, the right moment to speak more freely about these painful matters which belong, we trust, to the historic past.

In 1908, after the "Revolution" of the Young Turk, the Hentchakist Party was officially approved by the Government of Constantinople. The Party had abandoned its Separatist thesis from its programme, but sustained with greater energy the principle of nationalities, and combated furiously the Turkification policy of the Young Turks. On the other hand its programme was heavily charged with the demands of International Socialism, excessive even to some European Socialists, for a country where the struggle of the Nationalities puts into the shade the very feeble existence of class struggle. Nevertheless, the only member of the Hentchakist Party in the first Ottoman Parliament, Mourad, one of the heroes of Sassoun, rendered appreciable service to the newly-born labour organisations of the Armenians as well as of other nations in the Turkish Empire.

The Hentchakist Party was sincerely disposed to second the actions of the Young Turks towards the consolidation of the Constitutional regime in Turkey; but experience proved that in reality nothing had been changed in Turkish policy. The despotic tyranny of Abdul Hamid was replaced by the tyrannical oligarchy, of the Young Turk leaders. The massacres at Adana, on the morrow of the "New Regime," were the beat proof of it. Notwithstanding all these obstacles, the Party combated on legal grounds against the reactionary and assassin Government of Constantinople.

The Turco-Balkan War of 1912-1913 demonstrated the nullity of "Constitutional" efforts; and destroyed, besides, once for all the dogma of "territorial integrity" of the Turkish Empire, and proclaimed the rottenness of a "fictitious State." Then the Hentchakist Party, abandoning its legal grounds, took up its attitude of champion of Armenian exigencies and demanded the Autonomy of Armenia, a demand which was widely proclaimed and excellently defined in its memorable Appeal addressed to the Great Powers and to the people of Europe8. From that day the Young Turk Government redoubled its persecutions against Hentchakists, suppressing their newspapers in Constantinople, interdicting the access of Hentchak into Turkey, and in 1914, profiting by the declaration of the European War, arresting, imprisoning, torturing and even publicly hanging several of the distinguished members of the Party with the devilish intention of exterminating the most prominent and the most active of the Armenian Revolutionary Parties and the irreconcilable enemies of Sultanism, Pan-Islamism, and Young-or-Old Turkism.

*       *       *

In Persia, the action of the Hentchakist Party has been limited, as the Persian-Armenians have no national or insurrectional ambitions. They possessed positions of privilege there, and were enjoying even greater political freedom than the Russian-Armenians. The Party, however, by its alliance with the Persian Soc.-Dem. Party; and through the admirable conferences of Prof. Eghikian (former General Representative of the Central Committee, who had several audiences with the Regent of Persia) rendered appreciable services to Persian-Armenians, appeasing the chauvinistic spirit of certain maniacs and thus avoiding unnecessary friction with the Persians. At the reactionary period of the reign of Shah Mohammed Ali, the Hentchakist Party fulfilled its duty as a Revolutionary Party as best it could.

*       *       *

During the present war, when the Entente Powers posed as the champions of small nations, the Hentchakist Party, forgetting its grievances against the Russian Government for persecuting them as Socialists and for outlining a Russification policy, under the leaderships of Artemus and afterwards of Sunik and Tashir formed an important corps of Hentchakist Volunteers (a group of these appeared in Ararat of last April), who are fighting bravely today on the historic battlefields and the lofty mountains of Armenia, spreading terror in the ranks of Turkish soldiers. It is an Homeric spectacle and worthy of all praise to see a nation martyrised for six centuries and bereft of all hope from Europe under the most tragic of circumstances, preparing to sacrifice itself for the cause of civilisation, which is the cause also of the Allies by force of circumstances. It is sublime indeed!

*       *       *

The European War has facilitated the execution of the criminal designs of file Young Turk oligarchy - the extermination of Armenians to solve the Armenian Question. The Armenian nation and its political parties have paid heavily for their love of the Entente Powers. The Hentchakist Party, by its Appeal of June 7th, l915, solicited the intervention of the civilised world, but neither the great nor the small neutral nations have made even the faintest, movement to stay the red hands of the assassins. Tills has proved once again that Armenians can expect merely sympathetic words from "Christian" and "civilized" Europe, and nothing else. Suffering Armenia is mourning today her beloved sons and daughters, who have been mercilessly butchered, violated, crucified by anthropomorphous monsters…

But from these sufferings, from the depths of her ruins will rise the Sacred Legions to avenge her. They are already doing it, whether under the Hentchakist or the Dashnakist flag. From the issue of this horrible war, therefore, and on the magnitude of our national efforts will depend not only the kind of Europe that will emerge, but also the status of the Armenian nation-Avant-guard of civilisation and the Standard-bearer of Socialism in the Near East.

The Armenian political parties are doing their sacred duty to the uttermost - by shedding their precious blood for the liberation of Armenia, as they have done consistently for more than a quarter of a century, with the Hentchakist Party in the forefront. Now a sacred trust lies on Armenian neutrals who, by their acts alone, should prove that they too are the worthy sons of noble and worthy progenitors.

Hagop Turabian
Paris, 1916

Notes

1. There were in actuality seven official founders; Avetis Nazarbekian, Mariam Vardanian/Nazarbekian (Maro), Gevorg Gharadjian, Ruben Khan-Azat, Christopher Ohanian, Gabriel Kafian and Manuel Manuelian, (SDHP - Australian Leadership)

2. The Earl of Kimberley, telegraphing to Sir. P. Currie, the British Ambassador, says:-
Foreign Office, March 28th, 1895.
Rustem Pasha asked me upon what grounds we based our right to interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey. I expressed some astonishment at this enquiry, as I said I thought he must be aware that, as regards the Armenians, we had the most plain and undoubted right, based upon the Treaty of Berlin and the Cyprus Convention of 1878; and not only had we, in common with other Powers, a right to interfere, but those Treaties laid upon us most serious obligations that we could not neglect.
Blue Book, Turkey, No. 1 (1896), pg.12.
The italics are ours. (H.T.)

3. The italics are ours (H.T.)

4. The italics are ours (SDHP - Australian Leadership)

5. Speech of Mr. James Bryce, British Ambassador at Wahington, at Wandom Hall, Boston, Mass., in December, 1904.

6. Sir. F. Lascelles to the Earl of Kimberley dated,
St. Petersburg,
June 13th, 1895
"…Russia would, his Excellency (Prince Lobanoff) said, gladly see reforms applied to all the subjects of the Sultan, but she could not consent to the creation of a territory in proximity to her frontier where the Armenians should posses exceptional privileges - to the creation, in fact, in Asia Minor of another Bulgaria."
Blue Book, Turkey, No.1 (1896), pg.83.

7. Sir E. Malet to the Earl of Kimberley, dated,
Berlin, May 18th, 1895.
"…His Majesty (the Sultan) had applied to the Emperor for his good offices to moderate the action of the three Powers, and Baron Von Marshall said that a prompt answer had been sent to the effect that the Sultan had much better give way to their demands, and that Germany could not intervene."
Blue Book, Turkey, No, 1 (1896), pg.66.

8. "Appel Aux Grandes Puissances et Aux Peuples Europeens," par le Comite' Central Hentchakiste, Paris, le 30 Janvier 1913. Imprimerie du "Hentchak."

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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