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Armenian Terrorism

Cengiz KÜRŞAD*
OTTOMAN ARCHIVES YILDIZ COLLECTION THE ARMENIAN QUESTION I -TALORI INCIDENTS
 

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FOREWORD

 

 

 

Armenian terrorism throughout history has manifested aft the characteristics of an organized movement. This was also the case between 1973 and 1985, when the Turkish Republic and Turkish citizens were selected as the target of terrorist attacks in an attempt to influence public opinion not only in Turkey and the dispersed Armenian communities but also throughout the world. What are the real reasons lying behind the murders, attacks, bombings and massacres - the destruction of life and property which has continued up to the present and has been carried out mostly by one, sometimes by more than one Armenian organizations? What structure, what connections do these Armenian organizations have which compete with each other to claim responsibility for such actions, and which, by the very magnitude of their terrorist operations and the murders they commit, try to gain publicity not only for their organizations but also for the rivalry and power struggles among them? What are their aims, aspirations, policies and strategies? From where and from whom do they obtain support?

In order to find the true answer to these and similar questions and to reach unanimity of opinion, it is necessary first of aft to state clearly the essence of the Armenian problem in the years 1973 to 1985. The differences of opinion and approach in relation to the Armenian question or the “Armenian cause” - the “Hai Tahd” which was so important during the period just mentioned - have served to draw a veil over Armenian terrorism and to obscure from world opinion its true meaning as weft as the threat it presents, thus precluding any effective world reaction.

It is wrong to attribute the reasons for the failure to state the Armenian problem consistently and accurately to the attitudes and actions of the Armenian terrorist organizations and to hold them responsible for the obscurity surrounding their activities. On the contrary, these organizations have taken advantage of the state of confusion created by those, directly or indirectly involved, whose aspirations and interests lie in keeping the question alive under various pretexts. The ambiguities, arguments and conflicts have served to prolong their chances of survival. Especially during the period from 1973 to 1985, Armenian terrorism derived the greatest psychological and moral support from writers, politicians, the church and religious associations still clinging to the crusading spirit with regard to the Turkish people. They have aft sought to model the Armenian cause, as weft as the terrorist activities connected with it, on the various national liberation struggles that have arisen on account of developments in the world over the last fifty years. These terrorist activities are thus seen as part of a national liberation struggle, and the terrorist activists are acclaimed as heroes.



 

 

Propaganda and Psychological Pressure

 

The continual campaign of intensive and widespread propaganda and organized psychological pressure has had a tremendous effect in promoting the various contradictory view points on the Armenian question. It has become the practice, when interpreting and assessing particular historical events, to prejudge the issue under the psychological pressure of a “theme” or “themes” determined by a propaganda campaign. Such an approach, on the one hand, prevents the problems and issues from being viewed as a whole; on the other hand, it allows the conclusions reached to be turned into propaganda material for political ends on subjects already researched and documented, which in effect, fail within the scope of historical judgment There is actually nothing new in this. Thousands of pages of political history are filed with similar speculation. In the present day too, such a method is being sanctioned by states, under cover of organizations they have founded, supported and maintained to operate against countries which are or are likely to become their rivals.

In the new phase of Armenian terrorism from 1973 to 1985, the clearest example of the approach discussed above can be seen in the way the idea of “genocide” or “mass murder of the Armenians” has been promoted, manipulated and exploited. This campaign of propaganda and psychological pressure which sustains Armenian terrorism has succeeded in winning over active public support in many countries. From the standpoint of their aspirations and interests in the region within the borders of Turkey, some nations view Armenian terrorism as a means of threatening and undermining the stability of the country; others see it as a counterforce that will erode Turkey’s growing strength and development, which the consider an obstacle to future activities. Regardless of their stance, they aft zealously promote the manipulation and exploitation at every opportunity and at every level of the theme of “genocide”.

As a result, a claim which runs counter to historical fact has at the national level gained a place on the agenda of various parliamentary groups and associations and has at the international level become the subject of discussion and debate. Thus, the grounds used to justify terrorism have become the very instrument for legitimizing it. It is natural that the contradictions inherent in such an approach should render impossible any true understanding of the Armenian question and should lead to the chaos which in turn sustains terrorism. All the debates over whether “genocide” did or did not take place, closely bound up as they are with a vigorous campaign of psychological pressure and propaganda, have ensured the persistence of this state of chaos. In so far as fictive claims acquire the force of propaganda, they achieve more in the short and even medium term than honest and serious attempts to present the facts. Furthermore, when such claims are bound up with numerous vested interests and aspirations, scientific truth, historical fact and common sense are set aside, only to be superseded by vague promises of opportunities and conditions to be created by those who promote and sanction these claims. Expectations of material gain and power quickly breed lies and a thirst for blood and violence, as opposed to knowledge and common sense.

Towards the end of the Second World War, the theme of “Armenian genocide” again became topical. At the end of the war, it was exploited as the subject of political debates and demands among the victorious powers, especially during the period of dispute between the USA and USSR over the straits, the Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern question. Upon the failure to achieve any results, the theme was next taken up by the masterminds of psychological warfare and dealers in terrorism. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s, they exploited the issue, using lies, fictitious events, hearsay reports charged with violence and hatred, and false documents of all kinds. Through the press and publications, audio-visual media, monuments and memorial ceremonies, they touted their ideas first among the Armenian youth, then among politicians anxious to win votes, those seeking a new order in the world, proponents of human rights at the price of blood and violence and finally among academic circles in pursuit of self-interest as if it were scientific truth. As a result, the way was prepared for the new phase of Armenian terrorism during the period from 1983 to 1985 and for the situation exposed in this work (See IV, section ill).

The ensuing panorama of violence, which has included massacres, murders, attacks, raids and bombings, has served to blur the Armenian question even further, to obscure the reality of the situation and, from the point of view of the policies and courses of action they have pursued, to reduce states to the level of mere dealers in terrorism.



 

 

Political Means and Costs

 

Another reason for the contradictions surrounding the Armenian question is the mistaken view that the declared policies of states and their secret ambitions and goals are distinct from each other. In effect, states establish all their policies on the basis of their objectives, aspirations and goals. Careful never to lose sight of the main goal, they are led by opportunity and circumstance to pursue policies and courses of action, merely in order to attain interim goals. As they zigzag hither and thither within the political process, they can, therefore, appear to believe in causes they do not believe in, accept opinions and ideas they do not sanction and even sacrifice on the short term a part of their own interests. Just as important for states as these interests are the choice of the appropriate means to secure them and the price required to be paid; otherwise the specific goals of a policy cannot be achieved. In international relations, the means that rival states will use to gain political advantage and attain their national goals are diplomacy, psychological pressure and war. The cost will be determined and delimited by the extent of their national strength. Just as states do not have recourse to war, except in emergency situations, to achieve their medium and long-term goals, so too they do not deploy their entire resources or even a significant part of them for this purpose. On the contrary, they prefer the cost which must be paid to secure their own interests to be borne by weak states, torn by domestic problems and open to corruption, or by dependent states and their citizens. It is, in effect, through the sacrifice of the lives, property and value systems of the people of other states that nations attain their ends. They consider it natural to do so; thus, their declared policies stand in open contradiction to their activities behind the scenes. It is generally possible to determine time ambitions and goals of every state and political organization in the world, but confusion and secrecy are inherent in the means to be used, the resources to be deployed and the price to be paid in order to achieve these goals. In short, it is not always clear who will pay the price.

To conclude, the situation outlined above clearly lies at the root of the contradictions between, on the one hand, the declared stand and policies of nations with regard to the Armenian question and, on the other hand, the means they use and the price they will pay to attain their goals. The Armenians, however, have not understood, or appear not to have understood these contradictions. Even today can the Armenian terrorist organizations in particular accept the reality of the situation we have tried to explain? It is dufficult to say; they do not give much cause for hope.



 

 

Mistakes and Fallacies

 

In so far as can be ascertained from events in recent history and from the main causes of the resumption of Armenian terrorism during the period from 1973 to 1985, the principal terrorist activists and the leaders of Armenian terrorist movements have taken for granted that certain states, having taken a stand as defenders of the Armenian cause, can therefore use, as required, every means available through the international networks to support It. The activists have also taken for granted that these states will meet the cost of terrorism from their own national resources and strength. In every period, they have seen evidence of attitudes and actions to support these views. However, through out history and also in our own day, they have wrongly identified the real intentions and goals of the states backing Armenian terrorism. They have not taken into consideration that the activities of such states which support and actively encourage terrorism are only of value to these states in terms of their own national goals and that, as soon as these goals are attained, there will be no further interest either in an Armenian cause or in the Armenians. An even more important mistake on their part is their seeing a parallel between the issues concerning the Armenians and the national goals of those states actively encouraging and supporting terrorism. In general during the 1960’s, all Armenian writers and leaders maintained that European and American protection against the Soviet Union could be secured on condition that an Armenian state comprising time eastern and south-eastern regions of Anatolia were established. During the 1973-1985 phase of Armenian terrorism, one group of ideologists was stipulating this same condition for the security of the Soviet Union, while another group was doing the same for the future of the Middle East at the same time, yet another group of writers was repeating the old claims. The situation today does not appear to have changed much, Approaches such as the above only serve to obscure the Armenian question in the eyes of the world.


 

 

Models

 

One of the factors causing difficulty in defining the Armenian problem and one of the sources of the contradictions among the various public opinions on the question is the view that Armenian terrorism has used Zionist methods, with Zionism and the establishment of the state of Israel as its model. The link between Zionism and the Armenian cause began in the period of opposition against Abdül Hamid. Some time later the theoreticians and practitioners of Zionism offered their assistance to Abdül Hamid in the face of the Armenian rebellions and acts of terrorism. In exchange, they sought the Sultan’s help on the question of ”the establishment of a Jewish homeland”. The contacts and links which Zionism has forged for its own ends with the Armenian terrorist organizations figure among the major events of history.

What are the real reasons for the efforts to take historical events as the reference point in the search for new systems and models for Armenian terrorism and for the attempts to identify it with Zionism and the establishment of the state of Israel? The primary alum of the supporters of terrorism who suggest such views is to keep the theme of “genocide” constantly alive by associating it with “the genocide of the Jews”, which aroused revulsion throughout the whole world. They hope, secondly, to win Zionism over to the side of Armenian terrorism by taking the memories of historical events and distorting them to secure the support of Israel against the so-called common foe.

Within the framework of the search for this same new model and system, Armenian terrorism has united itself with the Palestinian liberation struggle, for which it has won support, and with the liberation struggles in the entire area, with which it has also established close links. Such views are evident from the declarations of the terrorist organizations and from the works of a number of writers. The theme of “Armenian-Greek-Bulgarian cooperation” has also been exploited as propaganda, depending on the state of Armenian-Greek and Turkish-Bulgarian relations as well as developments in Turkish-Greek relations. All these approaches to the issue, public statements and propaganda activities only serve to obscure the Armenian question even further and to increase the uncertainties surrounding it.



 

 

Geopolitics and Geopolitical Aspirations

 

Yet another reason for the increasing number of contradictions and unrealistic claims with regard to the Armenian question is the continually one-sided exploitation of the geopolitical aspects of the problem. Many Armenian writers touch on these aspects not only in their own writings which actively encourage and support terrorism, but also in reports and petitions prepared at various national and international levels.

The importance of such efforts, in terms of the Armenian question, lies in their attempt to balance the Armenian demands against the geopolitical aspirations of certain states by using geographical concepts and terms as propaganda material and a means of exerting psychological pressure. It is with the aim of linking the Armenians with a specific geographical area that efforts have been made to define as “the homeland of the Armenians” the area which comprises a large part of the eastern and south-eastern regions of Anatolia, sometimes referred to in the oldest historical documents as “the Highlands” and called “Armenia” by the Romans. These efforts, by adding a geographical dimension to the attempts to create an Armenian historical identity aimed first at convincing the Armenians themselves that they had always lived in the afore-mentioned areas, and, secondly, at persuading world opinion that the Armenians had been forced to abandon their homeland and the regions they inhabited. In the nineteen century, however, the term “Armenia” began to lose its geographical significance, becoming rather a political idea and expression. It was when it became clear that an Armenian majority had never lived as the sole Inhabitants of that particular region, that the efforts of Armenian writers came to serve the geopolitical aspirations of Russia and the European nations with regard to the region, rather than the interests of the Armenians, Years later, during the planning period of the 1973 - 1985 phase of Armenian terrorism, the subject of “Armenia” began to be repeated frequently. Even though many writers and historians may have wished to return to the same theme, they were no longer able to use term as propaganda, nor could they, under changing circumstances, infuse it with a new geopolitical significance that would serve their ends.

Notwithstanding, the “Armenian question” has never been adequately researched and assessed as a geopolitical one, independent of the problems of the Armenian people themselves, The reason is that the writers and organizations referred to, who have attempted to treat the problem in this way, have deliberately concealed the fact that the Armenians have been regarded at certain times in history as a threat in the region.



 

 

The Armenians as a Geopolitical Problem

 

An approach which takes into consideration, albeit superficially the geopolitical aspects of the Armenian question from the sixteenth century to the present day cannot pretend not to see these realities. Let us state at the outset that in the views expressed below the concept of “geopolitics” has been taken in its broadest sense, not just in relation to a piece of land or a geographical area, but as a whole, together with the concepts of “power” and “aggression”. It is thus hoped to present the Armenian problem in its true perspective.

1. By the conquest of Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire had already extended its domain into two continents, with aspirations of becoming a world power. One of the Christian minority groups within the Empire was the Armenians, who differed from the others in their religious beliefs and rituals, as well as customs. They did not recognize the authority of the Church of Rome, which was generally accepted by the Christians in Europe; they did not accept its decisions as valid, nor did they share the ideas and beliefs about Christ held by other Christian sects (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox). They had no interest in the Papacy and the Papal authorities, preserving as they did, their own religious faith, rituals and customs. The Armenians were also distinguishable from the other minority groups by their language and music, and other cultural activities. A large majority spoke Turkish, wrote it in their own script, appreciated and performed Turkish music, and shared with the Turks common customs and traditions.

The Armenians with their distinctive characteristics and faith referred to as Gregorian constituted a separate and powerful element within the Christian world. Under the protection of time Ottoman Empire, they enjoyed all kinds of social, cultural and economic rights and amenities. Within the Empire too, they were treated as being different from and superior to the other minorities. The highest positions of state in areas such as the civil service, the palace and state treasuries, the arts and commerce were open to them. They could aspire to positions in the Sultan’s Inner Service and even become his confidants, in the provinces too, the situation was no different. Finally, as the loyal and devoted citizens of the Empire, they were considered “the loyal nation”.

The position of the Armenians was attracting the attention of the Papacy and the other Christian states. This “loyal nation”, which within the predominantly Muslim Empire held the status of a Christian community, stood apart from the rest of the Christian world in their religious beliefs, ideas and practices. The system of justice on which the power of the Empire rested, its social order its laws and traditions which were conducive to peace and prosperity and precluded strife-none of these could be achieved by the Christian world, torn as it was by sectarian conflicts, as well as conflicts between church and state. To it, the Armenians presented a danger and a threat: a threat which became aft the more real with the Empire’s aspirations of becoming a world state and with the arrival of the Imperial forces at the gates of Vienna. The existence within such a powerful Empire of Christian communities of different sects and faiths could pose a great danger for the future, even though they were minority groups. The Ottoman Empire could use these sects, in addition to its own renowned power, to plunge the Christian world in the long run into a state of turmoil, perhaps without even having recourse to arms. It could bring about the collapse of the Papacy, ending its sovereignty over the Roman Catholic communities. This was the light in which the Papacy viewed the Ottoman Empire in the second half the sixteenth century. A second view focused on how Islam was perceived within the Empire. It was recognized that Europe had insufficient knowledge and understanding of Islam, its thought system and the power of the Islamic faith. It was therefore decided that a thorough understanding of these matters should be gained in order to undermine the structure of Ottoman society from within. The most important of the Papacy’s initial tasks was the establishment of a propaganda network. By this means, it was planned not only to undermine the faith and beliefs of the Muslim Turks, but to bring about the collapse of the Armenian Gregorian Church and the conversion of the Armenian communities to Catholicism. These plans began to be implemented during the sixteenth century.



 

 

France and the Armenians

 

In the same century, a new dimension was added to relations between France and the Ottoman Empire. While the Papacy hoped, through the conversion of the Armenians to Catholicism, to avert a potential danger from them, the main objective of France, on the other hand, was the formation of a minority group which would serve the interests of the Christian states within the Ottoman Empire and which at the same time would be constantly torn by internal Strife. With this in mind, France therefore started actively to encourage and support the conversion of the Armenians to the Catholic Church and, when necessary, to apply political pressure and give political aid. As a result of France’s attitudes and actions, the Gregorian Armenians, following the precedent of some of their priests, began for the first time in history to accept conversion to Catholicism. In actual fact, the power struggles among the Armenian clergy, as well as the antogonism felt towards certain Armenian families, expedited the campaign of propaganda and psychological pressure initiated by France. Even though the conversions were on a small scale at first, they soon began to spread to the provinces. In view of this situation, the Armenian community split into two groups, and violent conflicts and struggles became increasingly prolonged. The peace and tranquility which the Armenian community had formerly enjoyed was shattered by this division into two enemy camps, which led inevitably to state intervention.



 

 

England - Russia and the Armenians

 

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, England began actively to encourage and support the conversion of the Gregorian and even the Catholic Armenians to Protestantism. The Gregorian-Catholic conflict now turned into a conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The Armenian community was once more split, this time into three groups: the Gregorians, Catholics and Protestants. Tsarist Russia using pan-Slavism, which it had initiated in the Balkans, as a religious pretext to act as protector of the Orthodox, was gaining control over the Armenian community. The effect of this was first felt by the Armenians who had settled in the eastern, north-eastern and Caucasian regions of the Empire. Intensive Russian propaganda and oppression left the Armenians no choice but to join the Protestant church. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, no vestige of unity remained within the Armenian Church or community. Their internal disputes created considerable problems for the Ottoman. Empire; indeed, the sectarian strife and divisions profoundly affected the Empire’s foreign policies and relations.



 

 

Organized Propaganda and the Armenians

 

Throughout the period from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire formed the target of an organized, long-term propaganda campaign conducted from many centres outside the Empire and having, though very diversified, a clear plan and programme. The situation presented above was the direct outcome of this propaganda, initiated by the Papacy and continued by the European states and Russia. During this period, these states not only created factions among the Armenian minority groups who had been granted significant privileges within the Ottoman Empire, but attempted to use each faction for their own geopolitical ends. It was not just through their policies of placing the Gregorian Armenians, seen as a threat to the Christian world, under the protection of France as Catholics, under the protection of England as Protestants and under the protection of Russia as converts to the Orthodox church and through their campaign of psychological pressure aimed directly at the minorities that they sought to prepare the ground for the realization of their aspirations and hopes; they also extended their activities to those geographical areas where the churches and the religious centres of the various sects were situated. One of the most noteworthy features of this same period is the use of entirely “religious themes” in the campaign of propaganda and psychological pressure. Indeed, a definition of the Armenian question at this time could be approached through an examination of the sectarian divisions and conflicts from the standpoint of both the Armenian community and the effect on the established system of law and order.

In terms of the Armenian question, the nineteenth century has gone down in history as a century marked by political conflicts and interests rather than sectarian divisions, when political themes superseded religious themes, now used rarely or not at all. It was, furthermore, a century which witnessed not only the rebellion of the Armenian minority groups against the states under whose protection they had lived in peace, security and prosperity, but also the beginnings of organized terrorism during its closing years.

In the nineteenth century, the Armenian question, as far as the Ottoman Empire was concerned, had always been considered in two ways and solutions had been sought accordingly.

In the eyes of the Ottoman state, the vast majority of Armenian minority groups were not to blame either for the sectarian strife and conflicts of interest among themselves or for the rebellions and acts of terrorism. These events were seen as the work of a small minority, stemming from church rivalries, of church leaders eager to gain advantage for themselves, a large number also acting as if they were the secret agents of foreign powers, and finally of insurrectionists and terrorists who had infiltrated Ottoman territory. Perhaps too, a number of ignorant and helpless Armenian subjects unable to withstand the pressures put on them became involved in the rebellions and joined the terrorist organizations. In any case, this was not a sufficient reason for blaming all those Armenians who continued to show their loyalty to the Ottoman state. They too suffered as a result of these events; they too desired an immediate end to the state of unrest. The most urgent measure to be taken in this situation was the reform of the laws governing minorities. It was, therefore, decided that Catholic and Protestant Armenians should enjoy the rights of the Armenian community, or to put it another way, that they should henceforth be considered as belonging to it. In 1830 time “Regulation concerning the Armenian community” was put into effect. It dealt with the-religious, social and cultural rights of the Armenians, extending even to autonomy in certain areas. The granting of minority rights and representative powers was an important factor in the renewal in 1861 of discussions on the Ottoman state system and in the eventual changeover to a constitutional regime. Though many of the legal reforms, such as the constitution proclaimed in 1876, were carried out for the benefit of Ottoman society as a whole, they were based on the view that the minorities formed an integral part of the society.

The Ottoman Empire was well aware that the conflicts among the Armenians, as well as the uprisings and acts of terrorism against the state, were in reality the outcome of the geopolitical goals and aspirations of Russia and the other European states with regard to the Empire. Sufficient information and documentation exist, conforming that Armenian secret agents actively encouraged and supported by the above mentioned states and mostly trained outside the Empire, were responsible for the work of the terrorist organizations they had created.

The Armenian question began to acquire a political character bringing the Ottoman Empire into direct confrontation with Russia, as a result of the following factors:

a. The intensive propaganda campaign conducted among the Armenian minority living in the eastern and southern regions of Anatolia immediately after the Russian occupation of the lands to the east of Anatolia at the beginning of the nineteenth century;

b. the attitudes and actions of the Armenian Patriarchate, church leaders and a group of Armenian intellectuals in the vanguard of a movement which advocated joining Russia

c. new developments aimed at the secession or preparations for secession of the European lands still under Ottoman rule, and finally,

d. the hostile policies of the European states during the 1877- 1878 war, the occupation of important strategic positions in eastern Anatolia by Russian forces, as well as the psychological pressures on the minorities.

This situation naturally affected the way the Ottoman Empire viewed the Armenian question. The finding of a solution in keeping with its political character now made consideration at the political level imperative.



 

 

Transition From Religious To Political Themes

 

In the new period following the Treaty of San Stefano, all the themes relating to the Armenian question were of a political nature. These “political themes” now formed the basis of the propaganda and psychological warfare which up to then had generally made use of religious themes to exploit the internal problems of the Armenian minority groups.

By the Treaty of Paris in 1856, the Ottoman Empire was granted the status of a European power, its sovereignty completely protected by the European states, but it did not possess the strength necessary to solve the Armenian problem through direct confrontation with Russia. It had therefore up to that point attempted to find solutions, or rather to postpone them, by active encouragement and support from behind the scenes, as well as by the involvement of the European powers. Thus, the question of the Armenian minorities became in one respect the subject of international disagreements and conflicting geopolitical expectations among states with regard to Ottoman territory and those areas under Ottoman suzerainty; in another respect, it became direcly tied up with the question of the Empire’s very existence.

Along with the political events arising from this situation and policies aimed at even further weakening of the Ottoman Empire, the end of the nineteenth century saw the founding of the first Armenian terrorist organizations.

The Armenakan Party was founded in Van in 1885, the Hunchak Party in Switzerland in 1887, and the Dashnaktsutiun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) in Tiflis in 1890. The first-mentioned party had at the very most five founding members, and the last two had three. An examination of the official documents and declarations related to the founding of these three parties and of their initial activities reveals their common characteristics; to put It more precisely, it is possible to see their points of agreement in the “Political Programme Section IV” of the Hunchak terrorist organization, and to trace them in the main programmes of action of the Dashnak organization.

The fourth section of the political programme of the Hunchak terrorist organization contains the following passage:

The way for Armenians to achieve the immediate goal-revolution-is by subversion, in other words, by destroying and changing by force the general structure of the Armenian regions in Turkey, by causing a widespread insurrection and by declaring war on the Turkish government The struggle will be continued through the punishment of Turkish intelligence agents, secret agents, informants and traitors and through the use of terrorism in defence of the revolutionary organizations and as a means of protecting the people against oppressors and traitors.

In his work, The History of the Dashnaktsutiun, the Armenian writer M. Varandian summarized the main characteristics of the Dashnak Armenian terrorist organization as follows:

The watchword of the Dashnaktsutiun committee is to shoot and Mil the Turk, no matter where, no matter what the circumstance; to take revenge on and annihilate reactionaries, renegades and Armenian informants.

In one of the first declarations of the Dashnak terrorist organization, it is stated that
Europe today sees the Armenians as defending human rights. At times like this, selfish interests should be set aside; there should be unity. For this reason, the Armenian revolutionary associations call upon all Armenians to unite under one flag and take up the cause of political and economic independence for the Armenians in Turkey. They have promised that the Armenians would wage war against the Ottoman government and shed their last drop of blood for freedom. Therefore, we call upon the young, the rich, the Armenian women and the clergy to unite.

The Dashnak terrorist organization, taking its programme from the Russian revolutionary group, Narodnaya Volya, announced in its Tiflis manifesto that “it had declared war on the Turkish authorities.” At the first general council meeting held in 1892, it agreed on a strategy proposing “the training and indoctrination of combatant units, the arming of the people, the formation of revolutionary committees and the use of terrorism against government officials, spies, traitors, deserters, pressure groups, in short, against every one.”



 

 

The “Fedayeen” Movement

 

At the general council meeting of the Dashnaks held in Tiflis in 1982, the first “Fedayeen Movement” recorded in recent history was formed. Considered by many writers as the forerunners of the terrorists in the Arab world in the twentieth century, this terrorist organization was made up of teams engaging in various terrorist activities. They Infiltrated the Ottoman Empire from its borders, carrying out raids, murders and massacres. The ringleaders of many rebellions were members of these teams or trained in them. It was also terrorists trained in the “Fedayeen” organization who carried on the struggle against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.



 

 

The “NEMSES” Group

 

At the Ninth Dashnak World Congress held at Erevan in 1919, the same terrorist organization was given the task of tracking down and killing those Ottomans, now in exile, who had formerly held positions of power. To this end, a “reprisal campaign” was organized under the code name of “Nemses” and directed by an Armenian-born American called Sahan Natali. As a result of this campaign, Talat Pasha was murdered in Berlin on March 15th, 1921, as was Said Halim Pasha in Rome on December 5th, 1921; Bahaddin ?akir and Cemal Azmi met their fate in Berlin on April 17th, 1922, along with Cemal Pasha in Tiflis on July 25th, 1922. Many Armenian secret agents took part in the “Nemses” campaign. Hrant Papazian, who was living abroad with the Turks in Berlin, was also a member of the Dashnak organization.



 

 

Hostility Against Turkey and The Turks-Awakening of an Armenian Consciousness

 

The Armenian terrorist organizations founded during this period were united in their hostility against Turkey and had the common goal of weakening, undermining, eroding and completely destroying the power of the Muslim Turk, the cornerstone and sustaining force of the Ottoman Empire.

The hostility against Turkey and the Turks was the outcome of centuries of organized propaganda. It can also be attributed to the geopolitically oriented psychological warfare waged by Russia and the European states, which led to an increase in violence reflecting political developments at the time. The church played a leading role in fostering this hostility in the minds of succeeding generations, using it as a basis for instilling in them through every level of education a “consciousness of being Armenian.”

“Hostility against Turks - hostility against Moslems”: these were the two themes which ran unchanged from the seventeenth century through all the teaching given in the Armenian schools, in the churches linked with the various sects and in Etchmiadzin, Antilias, Istanbul and other religious centres. The same themes were also exploited by organs of propaganda such as environmental protection agencies and voluntary organizations operating under various names.

The minorities inhabiting the European territories of the Ottoman Empire also tried to create and develop their own national identity. However, the great majority of them, united under the Orthodox Church, had already come under the influence of Slavism and the new ideas spreading in Europe.
 
The Armenians, on the other hand, could not display any such unity in the Balkans, divided as they were into four sects. Moreover, the attitudes and policies discussed above, which the Ottoman Empire adopted regarding the Armenians, hindered the growth of a national consciousness to the extent they desired. The outcome was that the accumulation of hatred for the Turk and Muslim erupted into violence and bloodshed for the Armenian cause, which continued on a scale much more bitter more cruel and more intense than that among the peoples in the Balkans and other regions of the Ottoman Empire. Another important point is that in no area of Anatolia, in no community, did the Armenian minority groups form a majority.

Moreover, the fact that a large section of this minority was made up of villagers, artisans, in short, provincial people with no interest in the above-mentioned struggles, affected the situation in many other ways. The question of an “Armenian consciousness” would continue to have particular features right up to the present.



 

 

States and Terrorist Organizations

 

The weakening, undermining, erosion and destruction of Ottoman and especially Turkish Moslem power continued as conditions and opportunities permitted the various states to fulfill their geopolitical aspirations with regard to Ottoman territories, sovereignty rights and resources. It was carried out sometimes violently and intensely, using every international means, sometimes very gradually, using only limited means. Every minority group within the Ottoman Empire afforded an opportunity and means for these states to achieve their goals. The important thing was to win these groups over against the Ottoman state by offering them certain opportunities and hopes for the future; to ensure that they engaged in terrorist activities and to instigate rebellions and revolutions. As a result, the Ottoman state would be preoccupied with internal crises; its power would gradually be eroded; and the geopolitical aspirations of various states would be realized. The provisions of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin were to be exploited to this end. The reform bills were to serve this purpose. The political expedients mentioned above were to be used to provide opportunities for intervention. Insofar as Ottoman power was weakened and the state was occupied with internal problems, the appropriate conditions could have come about The Armenian terrorist organizations were used as a weapon serving these ends. However, just as sectarian divisions were seen above as an obstacle to the creation of an Armenian consciousness, now, in another form, the divisions, indeed the conflicts, in international relations and in the geopolitical aspirations of each state were the inevitable outcome. The geopolitical aspirations of Russia rested, on the one hand, on the realization of its ambition to occupy the land to the south of the region in Eastern Anatolia touching its borders, and thus to reach the Mediterranean Sea from the south; on the other hand, they depended on the possibility of the European states, England in particular, gaining control and possession of the routes to India, as well as to the Middle and Far East. However, the geopolitical aspirations of the European states, especially England and France, conflicted with those of Russia. They saw Russia’s penetration to the south as a great danger in terms of their own interests. They sought to establish their supremacy and sovereignty from the centre outwards, directly or indirectly, over the nearest geographical areas. The geopolitical aims of this “new colonization” centred not only upon those strategic geographical areas of the Ottoman Empire from which constant surveillance of the Mediterranean could be maintained, but also on Anatolia as a market for goods mass-produced by their developing industry and as a source of raw material for the production of these goods. Thus, the North African coast, in the eastern Mediterranean Cyprus and Syria, the Basra Gulf, and Anatolia the areas to the south of the Izmir-Iskenderun line and to the south and east of the Iskenderun-Erzurum line-all came within the compass of the geopolitical goals of England, France and later Germany and Italy.

The expectations and goals of Russia and the European states had a great effect upon the Armenian terrorist organizations. Since they had received active encouragement, direction and support in accordance with these expectations, they created, or were seen as the implementers of propaganda themes on behalf of the side which at the time seemed to carry the greatest weight. One such theme was the “annexation theme”, according to which all those geographical areas generally inhabited by the Armenian minority groups within the Ottoman Empire would be incorporated into Russia. Another was the “reform theme”, which talked of making improvements and reforms in these areas and granting greater privileges to these groups. From these two themes the “autonomy theme” developed autonomy within the Ottoman state or Russia, or one or more than one European state.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Armenian question’, which was lending Armenian affairs a stronger political character, came to be synonynous with:

a)The implementation of political, economic, social and cultural reforms in those southern and eastern areas of Anatolia inhabited by the Armenian minorities and the granting to them of new privileges, in some respects greater than those enjoyed by the Turks.

b) The annexation of these areas by Russia and the establishment by revolution of a socialist state of Armenia, comprising the Armenians of Iran, Russia and Turkey.



 

 

Terrorism and Public Opinion

 

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Armenian terrorist organizations adopted new methods, with the aim of influencing public opinion, especially in Europe. These new modes were to be used almost a century later during the 1973-1985 phase of terrorism, when murders and massacres were carried out in similar fashion, this time to influence world public opinion.
Important targets with European links were selected for bombings and attacks by terrorist groups and for the taking of hostages. The attack carried out on the Ottoman Bank in 1896, the plans for massacres, murders and bombings, as well as the declarations made by the Armenian terrorist organizations in the same year, were all aimed at giving publicity, especially to the overall weakness of the Ottoman state, and its inability to protect either the minorities or European capital-hence, the announcement of plans by these organizations to attack Babiali, the Armenian Patriarchate, the Credit Lyonais Bank and the Greek church of Agia Triada. Further developments during the closing years of the nineteenth century were the arming of the Armenian people, the beginning of guerrilla activities, which were to become of great importance in this century, and clashes with the government forces.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the ‘Armenian question’, a part from creating a problem of public security, constituted an intrinsic threat to the territorial integration of the Empire. This was a matter of great importance from the point of view of the state, international relations and finally the expectations and goals of the European states and Russia.
 
American interest in the ‘Armenian question’ also dates from the end of the nineteenth century. Information about the relations which had been established with the Armenians through American consulates, educational institutions and, in particular, Protestant missionaries was being communicated primarily to the American official authorities and the public through the press. The Armenians came to be identified in their minds with the old slave system. As American public sympathy was aroused, efforts were continued to obtain financial and military aid.



 

 

Armenians Terrorism in The Twentieth Century

 

In the twentieth century, the ‘Armenian question’ has passed through various phases and taken on different meanings. The changing conditions in international relations through out the first quarter of the century led to the most cruel phase of Armenian terrorist activity in history, culminating in war. Attacks, murders and massacres were carried out against Turkish society and Turkish armies; Turkish soldiers, defending the homeland and fighting for its very existence, were murdered in cold blood by terrorists working hand in hand with the enemy powers; supply routes were cut, and, finally, vast areas of Anatolia were taken over as if by an occupation force. At peace conferences and treaty discussions, the activists unsuccessfully sought in return the fulfillment of their expectations.

During the second quarter of the century following the Lausanne Conference and Peace Treaty, the activists sought to build up the strength of the Armenian terrorist organizations, which had been rendered ineffectual and, at the same time, to keep the ‘Armenian question’ alive in Europe and especially in the U.S.A. They supported, regardless of their point of origin, any anti-Turkish activities which would place the Republic in a compromising situation in the future. Finally, the outbreak of the Second World War presented the opportunity to intensify pressure on the warring sides to realize their geopolitical aspirations with regard to Turkey and Turkish territory. Later, siding with the victorious powers engaged in the reorganization of the post-war world, the activists put pressure on them to grant their old demands. They pinned their hopes on the unfounded imperialistic claims of the Soviet Union with regard to the Turkish Republic. When these came to naught, the activists this time approached various international institutions in the hope of influencing world opinion and proving that the ‘Armenian question’ was still very much alive. New propaganda themes began to be created. Thus, the end of the second quarter of the twentieth century was marked by increasing demands upon Turkey and the unchanging hostility towards Turks.

In the third quarter of the twentieth century, Armenian terrorism manifested itself again following a long period of active encouragement, support and preparation. Between 1973 and 1985, countless examples were recorded of cruelty and inhumanity both in terms of the methods used and the innocent people selected as targets. What were the main features of each of the three periods mentioned? What significance did the ‘Armenian question’ have? What problems was it concerned with? What themes were used in the campaign of propaganda and psychological pressure?



 

 

The First Period 1900- 1923

 

The first quarter of the century, which marks the first stage of the ‘Armenian question’, may be treated in three phases corresponding to developments at the time. The first phase is from the beginning of the century up to the end of the Balkan Wars; the second, from the outbreak of the First World War to the signing of the Mudros Armistice; and the third, from the Turkish national struggle and War of Independence following the Mudros Armistice up to the Lausanne Treaty.



 

 

Phase l: 1903-1913

 

The first phase of the ‘Armenian question’ revolved around three main developments. From 1900 to 1913, the Armenian terrorist organizations continued to commit acts of terrorism without swerving from their basic goals. As these intensified, importance was given to the arming of the Armenian minorities on an individual basis house by house and to make preparations for an armed rebellion and revolution. Most of the weapons were procured from Russia and other nations, smuggled into the Ottoman state by various means, stocked and distributed. These activities maybe considered as the first main development. The second concerns the central government of the Ottoman Empire with Abdül Hamid II at its head. The terrorist leaders saw him as their archenemy. As long as he was alive, Armenian expectations and the goals of Armenian terrorism would remain unfulfilled. Thus, the activists allied themselves with political organizations, Turkish revolutionaries and aft Turks opposed to the Ottoman state system, and especially to the oppressive measures adopted by the Sultan. The Y?ld?z assassination attempt in 1905 was the work of Armenian terrorists. Especially in the provinces and country districts, the terrorist organizations increased’ their strength and effectiveness. The third main development centred on the proclamation of the Second Constitution. The deposition of Abdül Hamid II the restoration of the constitution and the election of Armenian deputies to Parliament were the most important events of this period. There was a reduction in the number of acts of terrorism. Nevertheless, parallel to the events of March 31st, the effects of terrorism were still felt in Anatolia and the arming of the people continued. Since they had played a role in the establishing of the new regime, the leaders of the Armenian terrorist organizations chose silence, putting pressure instead on the Armenian deputies. A start was made on a new reform programme related to the Armenians. The debates and conflicts continued on the question of whether surveillance of the reforms in six provinces should be carried out by the European states or by Russia. Meanwhile, the Ottoman government was, on the one hand, hopeful of success in its efforts to establish and stabilize the new regime, using the army solely for political ends; on the other hand, it was striving along with the European states and Russia to solve the reform question. The Balkan War exposed the degree of strength of the once mighty Ottoman Empire. It suffered a crushing defeat, showing that the time had come for the realization of the geopolitical aspirations of Russia and the European states.

It was under these conditions that Etchmiadzin started to come into the picture after the meeting of the Armenian terrorist organizations which was convened in Tiflis in 1912. At the conclusion of the meeting held at Etchmiadzin, Boghos Nubar Pasha and Patriarch Ormanian were appointed by the Catholicos as representatives of Etchmiadzin and the Armenian demands. In 1913, they were sent to Europe to attend the London Conference, which had been summoned to establish peace in the Balkans. This was the first instance of the Armenians’ desire to participate in a conference in no way related to their own problems. Though they were refused permission to attend the London Conference, they were able to lay the groundwork for intensive propaganda in an attempt to influence European public opinion. At the same time, they held discussions on the ‘Armenian question’ with the Russian, English and French, as well as the Turkish, authorities. At these discussions they once again put forward demands ranging from annexation to Russia to autonomy and from autonomy to the enactment of a reform programme under the Ottoman state. The Armenians desired to have a share in the partitioning of the Empire. The nature and extent of this whether complete or partial autonomy, was not of great importance. With regard to the reform programme, supervision by Europe or Russia or by both powers was considered adequate.



 

 

Propaganda Themes

 

Between 1900 and 1913, during the campaign of propaganda and psyhologiacal pressure which was aimed at influencing European public opinion on the ‘Armenian question’, the “themes” used were still political in nature, concerned predominantly with the Ottoman regime and its central government. Such were the ‘Reform’ themes, which had become the subject of intensive propaganda in the 1880’s, and the themes of ‘Freedom’, ‘Justice” and ‘Brotherhood’. Another was the theme of the ‘Red Sultan’, introduced by Armenian terrorist propaganda against the Sultan personally. This theme came to influnce public opinion in the entire Ottoman state, as much as in Europe. It is still used even today with reference to Abdül Hamid II. All the above propaganda themes were continually directed at the European states in the hope of intensifying their activities as well as the rivalries among them. Moreover they were exploited by opponents of Abdül Hamid II and the Ottoman regime by revolutionaries and by political parties, sometimes together, sometimes separately.

Another point worth noting is that during this period the Ottoman state was the one most discussed and written about abroad. These writings and publications all dealt with the above mentioned themes, stressing the need for the Empire, which still had territories in Europe, to base its regime on concepts such as ‘Freedom-Justice-Brotherhood’. Otherwise, its relations with Europe would have to be broken off; in fact, the Ottoman state would have to be expelled from Europe.

A new factor during this period was to raise the expectations of the various powers with regard to Ottoman territory and natural resources, at the same time increasing the rivalry among them. This was oil. The discovery of oil in the Kerkuk-Basra regions, its partial production in Iran, together with its exploitation now as a source of power quite a part from its industrial applications-these developments broadened the scope of geopolitical aspirations, most of all on the part of England and brought a greater sense of urgency to their realization.

The disintegration and continuing decline of the Ottoman Empire, especially after the Balkan Wars, presented the opportunity for the European states and Russia to realize their aspirations without delay. As a result, it was decided that the time had come to discuss the partitioning of the Empire.



 

 

Phase II: 1914 - 1918

 

During World War I, important developments took place with regard to the ‘Armenian question’, which were to have long reaching effects even up to the present day. In the four years from the beginning of preparations for war and the mobilization of Ottoman forces to the signing of the Mudros Armistice, the war spread to all the frontiers and domains of the Empire. As a result of the continual exploitation, under various pretexts, of the events which occured during the war years, the Armenians had recourse to terrorism once again, hundreds of innocent people becoming the victims of its brutality during the 1973-1985 period.



 

 

From Terrorism To War

 

During the First World War, the ‘Armenian question’ transcended the bounds of terrorism, taking on the dimensions of open warfare. For years, the geopolitical aspirations and expectations of various states had been directed towards Ottoman territories and domains and above all the lands belonging to the churches and the Catholicosates. These states, together with missionaries and missionary organizations, had both openly and in secret encouraged and supported the Armenian terrorist organizations in the propaganda and psychological pressure which they used to incite the Armenian minority groups. Such activities were now yielding results. These groups and the Armenians who created them had now formed gangs armed with guns, bombs and daggers and sworn to hatred, revenge and murder. They were spewing terror and death upon the Turks and Moslems with whom they had lived for centuries, sharing their joys and sorrows. They considered it their right to instigate rebellions within the states under whose protection they had enjoyed peace, security and prosperity for, centuries. They believed that the more Turks they raped and murdered and the more Moslem towns and villages they burned and reduced to ruins, the greater the likelihood of their hopes being realized and the promises of abstract slogans which they did not even understand being fulfilled. This situation would confirm yet again that historically the basic principle in Armenian terrorism was hostility against the Turks; the same attitude was to continue up to the present period.



 

 

Terrorism and Warfare On Two Different Fronts

 

Between 1914 and 1918, the Armenian terrorist organizations and, under pressure from them, the Armenian minority groups continued their activities, which were generally systematic, well-planned and directed from centres abroad. These activities were carried out in two different areas and in two different ways. The first area of prolonged activity was on Turkish soil, concentrated especially in South and East Anatolia and the neighbouring regions. Demarcation lines may be drawn through the following points: Adapazar?-Bursa-Izmir; Izmir-Adana; Adana-Bitlis-Siirt-Van; Van-Erzurum; Erzurum-Trabzon; and a line running south from a point north of the Tokat-Sivas region, which extends to the Black Seacoast west of Trabzon.

With the mobilization of the Ottoman forces in 1914, operations commenced along the above lines continuing into the heart of Anatolia and outwards towards the frontiers of the Empire. They were carried out by groups of Armenian soldiers and staff enlisted in the Turkish armed forces or drafted as a result of mobilization, and by deserters who had obtained supplies of weapons and military equipment. Their activities may be summarized as follows. Operating in gangs, they intercepted the supply routes of the Turkish armies, cut their communications and instigated rebellions starting at Zeitun and moving southwards towards the points listed above; they set up road blocks, massacred the Moslem inhabitants and carried out surprise attacks on Turkish villages and towns, committing mass murder and rape, and looting, burning and completely destroying them; furthermore, they engaged in spying and aft kinds of provocative activity.

The second area of activity was the battle zone. The Armenian battalions which volunteered for services in the Tsar’s army were formed by Armenians fleeing from Turkey. To give an example, Karakin Pastirmadjian, the Erzurum deputy in the Ottoman Parliament, gathered around him various members of the Armenian gangs, escaped from Turkey to join the Tsar’s army and engaged in vanguard operations to prepare the way for the main Russian offensive.

The hideous massacres of the Moslem people, perpetrated by murderous gangs, were personally witnessed by horrified Russian captains and generals and recorded in their memoirs, as well as in the orders of the day issued in the operation zone.

These volunteer Armenian battalions offered their services to the Tsar’s forces, reconnoitring, leading the way and gathering intelligence; they worked hand in hand with the advance assault forces, burning and destroying Turkish and Moslem villages and settlements, especially those situated in the operation zone of the Russian forces. They carried out massacres on a scale several times greater than those in central Anatolia.



 

 

Terrorism and States

 

Russia was responsible for the coordination of all these activities, with the fundamental aim of undermining the Ottoman Empire in the areas mentioned and of bringing about its disintegration and collapse through pressure applied internally and externally. The Armenian activities in the central areas of Anatolia took place at the same tine as the Tsar’s military operations in the Caucasus and Iran. Besides aid from the Russians, the Armenian terrorist organizations also received support from the Allied Powers in the form of weapons and military equipment. Most important, by winning over public sympathy in Europe through their propaganda efforts and by continually providing aid, the Aimed Powers kept Armenian terrorism alive. It was only with the help of the terrorists that in the battles to come against the Russians, they would be able to secure the necessary bridgeheads in the areas mentioned. Meanwhile, throughout these struggles within the Ottoman State, the United States did not stand on the sidelines as a mere spectator. Not only were the Armenian churches in America and the Armenians living there active in their propaganda efforts, but the American foreign missions were also taking a close interest in the Armenian minorities, providing them with every kind of assistance and support. Another point worth noting, yet always neglected, is that Britain, France, Russia and Germany all had geopolitical aspirations and expectations with regard to the territories and domains of the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, the conditions for realizing these ambitions already existed, namely, the necessary connections, economic investments and the presence of various minority groups who had been propagandized for years to this end. Furthermore, these European powers took advantage of every sign of vulnerability on the part of the Ottoman Empire, which they regarded as a European state. Through political treaties with the Empire, they enjoyed various privileges under the capitulations. The United States, on the other hand, had no such relations in this geographical area. The limited trade relations into which she entered in the 1820’s did not give her the power to cherish geopolitical ambitions with regard to Ottoman territory and domains. It was only through the minority groups, who felt a special affinity towards the United States that she was able to forge links in the areas mentioned. The fact that this need was felt by the Armenian churches along with the Armenians living in America, and those who had just recently emigrated there helped to make a solution to the problem somewhat easier. The Armenian minorities began to be used not only as a valuable asset in securing political votes and advantages within the United States, but also as a jumping-off board in this country’s own struggles against Europe and Russia in Anatolia and the areas near the oil-fields. Thus, the American foreign missions, both private and official, and their educational and charitable associations considered it necessary to maintain close contact with the Armenian minority groups, as well as with the Greeks of Byzantine origin who cherished ambitions, regarding the Pontus region in the Black Sea area. However, the Greeks were only using the American missions and organizations, who found it difficult to understand Greek aims. They could, on the other hand, easily understand the demands of the Armenians, who appeared cultured in comparison with the Greeks and had ties with America. Thus, America began to establish close relations with the Armenian minorities within the Ottoman state and to express an interest in their claims and demands. Furthermore, as a result of propaganda in the United States, active public opinion there began to identify “what was being done to the Armenians”, as reported by eye-witness and in the daily news, with what was once done to the blacks. In this country, which was condidered to be the defender of human rights and the protector of democracy, they were beginning by means of this identification to live their own lives and campaign for an end to the injustices. The primary duty of every American foreign mission in Anatolia was at the earliest opportunity to send Armenian children and young people to the United States, where they would receive an education. After being trained there as American citizens, they would then be sent back to Turkey. The scale of these activities began to increase dramatically during the war years. The Armenian movements thus indirectly received moral support from the United States. Furthermore, in their relations with the area, the terms “official America” and “unofficial America” appeared for the first time. The former referred to the American administration, the latter to American public opinion. Congress fell into this second category. In the future, support for pro-American policies within the Ottoman state would be sought from the unofficial representatives of America. Alternatively, if the expectations of those who had connections with the official representatives of the United States in Turkey were not met, it would be claimed that ‘unofficial America’ was again acting perversely. With regard to the ‘Armenian question’, both these situations were to continue to arise both during and after the First World War.



 

 

April, 1915: The Situation

 

It is generally known that April 15 and sometimes April 24, 1915 are commemorated as the days when the Armenian “genocide” took place. The nature of this ‘theme’ of widespread propaganda and psychological warfare was discussed briefly above. Further examination of the situation is required, this time from the standpoint of events during the period under discussion.

Up to the present day, the events in April, 1915 have been exploited by the Armenian churches, Armenian terrorist organizations, Mends of the Armenian churches, Armenian terrorist organizations, friends of the Armenians and various other groups. They have been used constantly as a theme in the campaign of propaganda and psychological warfare. Activists have also sought to make these events the basis for the new phase of Armenian terrorism from 1973 in 1985. What was the reality of the events in April, 1915? In matters like this, world public opinion is being constantly pressurized. How can this pressure be lifted? How can world public opinion be enlightened? At a meeting of the United Nations Commission, Uruguay took the side of the Armenians, demanding that the ‘Armenian genocide’ be commemorated internationally. What arc the reasons lying behind this? Uruguay has never had geographical or historical finks with Turkey; moreover, very few of its people in all probability could even point Turkey out on a map. How can the above-mentioned propaganda themes further the political aspirations and expectations of various states in relation to Turkey and its territory? Questions such as these have not been adequately or frankly discussed, nor has world public opinion been adequately informed.

Before the truth can be presented regarding the historical misconceptions related to the ‘Armenian question’ and the events which are still being exploited, It is imperative that an outline be given firstly of “the situation within the Ottoman state in April, 1915”, and secondly of the development, within the context of this situation, of Armenian activities. These activities, It was pointed out above, had already begun during the months of war preparations. Finally, in searching for the truth, it would be worthwhile examining why those Armenians who resettled after the massacres that are said to have taken place returned to their lands three or four years later and what they did and encountered on their return.

1915 was a year of great significance for the Ottoman Empire. The events throughout that year were to have a profound effect on the future history of the Ottoman state and perhaps to mark the beginning of the end of the Empire.



 

The Western Front

 

A show of strength in manoeuvres carried out by the British fleet at the entrance to the Dardanelles in January, 1915 was followed in March by the most important and the heaviest attack in history one the Straits by the Allied naval forces. This attack had several aims. One of the most important was to enable the Tsar’s army, which was in retreat against the Germans on the eastern front, to reinforce its supplies of ammunition and equipment and in return to ship supplies of grain to England and France via the Straits. Another goal, which could only be achieved by seizing the Straits, was the occupation of Istanbul and the exclusion of the Empire from the war. Yet another reason for the attack on the Straits was to induce the Balkan states to enter tine war on tine side of the Allies. Perhaps the most important reason was the scheme to hand the area around Istanbul and the Straits over to Russia; this decision was the outcome of secret discussions, which had started in 1913, on the partitioning of the Empire and Turkey in particular.

It should be pointed out that during the allied naval battle for tine Straits, Russia did not engage in any naval attack Taking advantage of the fact that the battleship Yavuz had been crippled, she instead made a vain attempt to bombard the Bosphorus.

At the beginning of 1915, the Russians had three main targets in the Black Sea region. The first was the Batum-Artvin-Trabzon line; the second was the coal-mining area around Zonguldak the third was Istanbul. Taking advantage of the Allied battles for Çanakkale and Gelibolu (Gallipoli), they were planning to capture the capital. However, The Russian naval strength was inadequate for a naval assault on the Straits, nor did the Russians have the capabilities or facilities to capture the other targets in- battle against the Turkish fleet. On the other hand, behind the Aimed troop landings at Çanakkale and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) lay a very important goal, which the British and French were keeping secret. If tine Gelibolu landings were successful and the Dardanalles fell into their hands, the de facto occupation of Istanbul could be carried out. They would thus have been able to re-examine the pact to hand over Istanbul and the surrounding region to Russia as part of the agreement, initiated in 1913, to partition the Empire. The de facto situation was more important than solem agreements which remained only on paper. Just as they would protect their bargaining powers in this area, so they would gain a new advantage over the Russians, whose activities continued in the southern and south-eastern regions of Anatolia. In fact, the aid which they had given to the Armenian terrorist organizations was directed towards this goal.

However, the Allied fleets unexpectedly suffered a crushing defeat off Çanakkale on March 18, 1915 and were forced to retreat. Although this gave rise to important arguments over the above-mentioned goals, the decision was taken to land troops on the Gelibolu peninsula and continue the battle using the Allied land forces. In this way, it was planned to capture the Straits and Istanbul. As a result of preparations made during the first two weeks of April, first the harbour and fortifications of Izmir were bombed on April 19th; this was followed on April 25th by the successful landing of British, French and Anzac troops on the Gelibolu peninsula with the help of their fleets. This led to very bloody fighting during the following months. Thus, the strongest units of the Ottoman army were engaged on the western front at Gelibolu.



 

The Eastern Front

 

On the eastern front, 1915 was the year which witnessed all the development resulting from the defeat of the Turkish army at Sar?kam??. Armenian rebellions broke out along the fines mentioned above, as well as in the southern and south-eastern regions. The rebels intensified their activities especially in the Bitlis-Van area. Meanwhile, the Russian forces were concentrated along a fine extending through Arhavi, Oltu, Horasan, Karaköse, Diyadin, Kotar, Dilman and Tabriz. The strength of the Russian army in terms of soldiers, weapons and equipment had doubled since the Sar?kam?? operation. The Turkish forces, on the other hand, had suffered tremendous losses; moreover, they did not have time to recoup these losses. The Russian aim was to surround the Ottoman forces from the south and south-east, and thus annihilate them. Their greatest support in accomplishing this came from Armenian uprisings and activities along the ‘Inner lines’.

In the meantime, the Ottoman armies were completely occupied on the Iraqi-Palestinian fronts. Their operations against the British were not producing the desired results. With their defeat of the Ottoman forces at Schwayyibe on the Iraqi front, their fortunes began to change.

To sum up the situation, the Empire was fighting for its very survival, enveloped as it was by two major threats; in the west from the Allied Gelibolu campaign and naval blockade, in the east and south-east from the Russian operations aimed at encircling the Ottoman forces. From within, it was faced with the Armenian rebellions, in particular along the “inner lines” already indicated.

The uprisings and local revolts which broke out in the Van-Bitlis-Mu? regions at the beginning of April 1915 escalated into a full-scale rebellion in the ?atak district of the province of Van during the night of April 3rd. It began to spread throughout the entire province, reaching the city of Van on April 15th. Van, it could be said, was occupied by the Armenians. Thousands of Turks were killed in the fighting. Almost thirty thousand Turks began to flee from the city and the region to other places. On April 18th, the rebellion spread to Bitlis, encompassing the entire region.

Following the rebellion and take-over of Van, as if it were enemy territory, the Armenians continued their occupation of the area, carrying out massacres and causing tremendous destruction. The Russian forces immediately took advantage of this situation. Within a month, they themselves occupied first Van, then Malazgirt and later Bitlis. As a result of the Armenian rebellions and the support of the Armenian gangs, every Russian military operation achieved its goal. In short, the regions mentioned came under Russian occupation as a result of Armenian cooperation. The Russians now turned their attention to Azerbaijan.

These are the events which have been referred to as ‘the Armenian genocide’ and used as propaganda. In such a situation, what action could a state have taken against those who had instigated uprisings and rebellions, had carried out massacres and finally, in collaboration with the enemy forces, had occupied the country of their fellow-citizens? Surrounded as it was by enemies, its territories having become a veritable battlefield, what action could astute in this position have taken against its minority groups who were engaged in rebellions and massacres and were intercepting the army’s rear auxiliary forces, thus impeding its defence system? These minorities were not even aware of “whose benefit they were working for”. What state could have surrendered itself to these treacherous and murderous gangs?



 

Countermeasures

 

The Armenian rebellions in the regions of Bitlis, Van, Mu?, Erzurum, Beyaz?t, Zeitun and Sivas, and their collaboration with the Russian forces compelled the Ottoman government to take certain countermeasures. The basic idea underlying these measures was related entirely to the “self-defence” and “survival” of a state. Taking into consideration reports and information received from various sources, the plight of the military detachments, and, finally, events such as the rebellions, massacres and collaboration with the enemy, the government issued a decree which went into effect on April 24, 1915. The following measures were taken

a) Armenians between the ages of sixteen and fifty-five were forbidden to enter or leave the country.
b) Armenians would henceforth conduct all correspondence in Turkish
e) Armenian children would attend state schools; no new Armenian schools could be opened.
D) Local newspapers printed in the Armenian language would be closed down.

Taking note of the developing situation, the threat to the security of the armed forces, as well as the integrity of the country, the supreme military command issued a proposal to the Ministry of the Interior on May 26, 1915. It stated that “Armenians should be moved from the districts they inhabited in eastern Anatolia, from Zeitun and the other places in which they were grouped and should be resttled to the south of Diyarbak?r, in the Euphrates valley and in areas around Urfa and Süleymaniye.” This compulsory resettlement was implemented out of necessity. Had it not taken place, the uprisings, rebellions and massacres which were spreading into central Anatolia would have severely taxed the resources of the armies on the front, involving them in the country’s internal problems and would have allowed the enemy almost complete freedom of movement.

Resettlement was not a new occurrence in Ottoman history. Indeed, all nations may for various reasons enforce resttlement upon their own subjects as weft as on others living within their borders, and they may at any time take the necessary legal action. Resettlement was a practice introduced in the Byzantine period. In 1828 during the war with Russia, the Ottoman Empire also had recourse to such a measure to prevent Catholic and Orthodox Armenians in the border areas from continually crossing to Russia and assisting the Russians by spying and other activities. One group of these Armenians was resettled in the central areas of Anatolia; another group was deported when the Armenian Patriarch refused to act as guarantor On their behalf. Deportation was not out of the question at that time. Some time later, the Sultan issued a pardon, allowing the deportees to return to their former homes.

The proposal issued by the commander-in-chief of the armed forces passed into law. (The text of this law and other changes may be found in the relevant sections of this book.) It should be pointed out that this legislative measure, both in its scope and implementation, bears no relation to what even today is referred to as the ‘deportation law’. Not a single Armenian was deported. Deportation means the expulsion for various reasons from within the borders of a country of a person who has resided there for a length of time, whether he be a citizen of that country or not. It was not the Armenians who introduced the term ‘deportation’. It first appeared in 1918 in the course of an extraordinary parliamentary investigation and in a special court of justice set up at the end of the occupation of Istanbul with the purpose of humiliating the Union and Progress Party (Ittihat ve Terrakki Party) in the eyes of the world and the Turkish people, denouncing its members as traitors and throwing the blame on them for dragging Turkey into the war. In short, the term ‘deportation’ was introduced and applied by the enemies of the Union and Progress Party and by government sunder British influence after the occupation of Istanbul. For the Armenians, the term became a propaganda theme; unfortunatley even today it is still used by almost everyone in reference to the Armenians.

The propaganda related to the ‘Armenian question’ followed a new track on account of the compulsory resettlement of the Armenians and the subsequent claims of killings or deaths from various causes. Taking these in conjunction with the ‘genocide’ theme in particular, the propagandists initially quoted a death toil of 500,000. Today this figure has risen to two million. Who knows what the figure will be in the future?



 

Armenian Propaganda Through Statistics

 

In the propaganda related to the ‘Armenian question’ and especially during the years 1955 to 1985, when the theme of ‘Armenian genocide’, was constantly being-bandied about everywhere in a campaign of psychological pressure, a second theme appeared, which was aimed at making the claims of ‘genocide’ more realistic and acceptable. This was the theme of ‘the number of Armenians killed as a result of genocide’. Both themes complement each other, one constituting a source of evidence for the other. For years, they have been exploited in this way, and today they are still being exploited.

Actually, it was only after world public opinion showed strong reaction and aversion towards the genocide of the Jews after the Second World War that the ‘genocide’ theme was suggested in relation to the ‘Armenian question’. Prior to that, it had been used only in isolation under various pretexts; gradually the propagandists tried to make the terms ‘racialism’ and ‘genocide’ synonymous. The reason for the increase in the figures quoted every year up to the present stems from the view that propaganda supported by statistics is more convincing.

One of our leading statesman, Kâmuran Gürün, makes the point adequately clear in the section quoted below from his important, well-researched book, The Armenian File which was published in 1983. On pages 223 to 227, Gürün discusses the subject, giving evidence. It should be pointed out that the expression ‘moving of population’ (‘göç ettirme’), which Gürün uses in his discussion, must be taken as meaning ‘resettlement’ (‘iskân ettirme’), as explained above. This is essential in the light of the legal significance, the Ottoman state system, and the boundaries of the state at that date. There was no question of deporting people. Gürün takes basically the same approach; he used the expression ‘moving of population’, we believe, in order to make comprehensible the linguistic and conceptual changes which the Turkish language has undergone. Gürün also uses the expression ‘resettlement’ (‘yer de?i?tirme’), but he never uses the term ‘deportation’ (‘tehcir’). Gürün states that a subject constantly exploited as anti-Turkish propaganda is the massacre of as many as 2,000,000 Armenians during the resettlement. The death toll was initially given in 1915 as 300,000; with each passing year, this figure increased until in the 1980’s it had reached two million. With the passing years it may be normal for the population of a society to increase; however, but for people who died at a particular date to multiply with the passing years is a phenomenon unique to this situation.

We are not going to dwell on who said what or gave what figure on which date. During the resettlement, people died of various causes. Some died as a result of epidemics, some as a result of the climatic conditions and some as a result of the hardships suffered during the journey. Others died because of attacks, inadequate protection by the guards or the illegal actions of certain officials. Furthermore, large numbers died while fighting against the Turks as volunteers in the Russian army. Many also died during the gang attacks and uprisings which began in 1914 even before the war and continued after the resettlement decision throughout 1916.

Who among those who died can be pointed to as “having been murdered”? Certainly not the ones who were killed while fighting nor those who died of malnutrition, or of typhus, typhoid fever, cholera and smallpox, which were widespread at the time in Turkey. It cannot be claimed that they would not have died if they had stayed in their homes, because the epidemics had spread to the areas they lived in, taking hundreds and thousands of lives. The number of people who died in Turkey at the fronts during the First World War is 550-600,000. The rest, more than 2,000,000 people, died of epidemics and malnutrition, or in the attacks of Armenian and Greek gangs, even though they were not soldiers. Therefore, this group must also be excluded.

Should we include in this group those who died because of the climatic conditions and the hardships of the journey during the resettlement? We do not think so. Again, it will be claimed that they would not have died if they had stayed in their homes. That is true, but there is a point which should be remembered. Among the nations Turkey fought during the First World War were Armenians. And these were Armenians living in Turkey, Armenians who were Turkish citizens, as were the Arabs after May, l9l6. Certainly it cannot be denied that Turkey was at war with the Armenians of Turkey.

The meaning of the telegram sent after the fall of Van on May 18, 1915 by the Russian Tsar to the Russian Army Command of the region of Beyazit is quite clear. It reads: “I would like to thank the inhabitants of Van for the sacrifices they have made.” The article published on August 13, 1915 in the newspaper Le Temps in Paris about Aram Manukian is in similar vein: “At the beginning of this war, Aram left behind a comfortable life and business and once again took up arms as leader of the rebels in Van. Russia, who now controls this province, appointed Aram as governor to please the Armenians p who had played their part so brilliantly in the war against Turkey.”

An article published on February 9, 1916 in the Soleil du Midi stated: “According to detailed information we are receiving, especially the declarations issued by M.Sazanoff at the Duma, around 10,000 Armenians, under the leadership of Aram Manukian have resisted the Turkish troops in Van for a month and have succeeded in putting them to flight before the arrival of the Russian armies.... In the mountains of Sassun, 30,000 Armenian revolutionaries have been fighting hopelessly for nine months, while waiting for the arrival of the Russian armies as well as of the troops of Armenian volunteers... In Cilicia, in the mountains of Kessab, thousands Of Armenians are also awaiting the arrival of the French and the British...” Sazanoff had made the following statement in the Duma: “In this war the Armenians are fighting with the Russians against the Ottoman Empire.”

The details we have given in this chapter leave no doubt that during the war the Armenians of Turkey joined the enemy in lighting against their own country. As a matter of fact, they themselves stated as much during the Sévres talks.

General Bronsart, who was Chief of Staff to the Ottoman Commander-in-Chief, wrote as follows in an article in the July 24,1921 issue of the newspaper Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung:

As demonstrated by the innumerable declarations, provocative pamphlets, weapons, ammunition, explosives, etc., found in areas inhabited by the Armenians, the rebellion had been prepared over a longtime, organized, strengthened and financed by Russia. Information was received on time in Istanbul about an high-ranking state officials and officers.

Since all the Moslems capable of bearing arms were in the Turkish Army, it was easy to organize a terrible massacre by the Armenians against defenceless people, because the Armenians were not only attacking the sides and rear of the Eastern Army paralyzed at the front by the Russians, but were attacking the Moslem folk in the region as well. The Armenian atrocities which I have witnessed were far worse than the so-called Turkish brutality.

Let us quote now a few statements from an anti-Turkish book Hassan Arfa writes:
When the Russian armies invaded Turkey after the Sar?kam?? disaster of 1914, their columns were preceded by battalions of irregular Armenian volunteers, both from the Caucasus and from Turkey. One of these was commanded by a certain Antranik, a blood thirsty adventurer... These Armenian volunteers, in order to avenge their compatriots who had been massacred by the Kurds, committed all kinds of excesses, killing more than 600,000 Kurds between 1915 and 1918 in the eastern provinces of Turkey.

The Armenians were resettled because they had joined the ranks of the enemy. The fact that they were civilians does not change the situation. Those who were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War were civilians. Those who were killed during the First World War in France, Belgium and Holland were also civilians, as were those who died in London during the raids over London. We have cited above some examples of how the civilians were killed. Turkey did not kill them, but relocated them. As it was impossible to provide them with better conditions under the circumstances, it cannot be accepted that those who died because they were unable to withstand the hardships of the journey were killed by the Turks.

Let us give a similar example. During the struggle for independence, the French evacuated Mara?, and 5,000 Armenians left Mara? with the French. The date was February 10,1920. The journey lasted until February 14. “The result: 200 dead, among whom were seven officers including Major Marty, 200 wounded and eleven seriously wounded were abandoned in Mara?; 150 people had their legs frozen; 2-3000 Armenians died during the retreat.”

Did the French massacre those Armenians?
There remain only those who were killed en route, defenceless. The responsibility lies here with the government because it was unable to protect these individuals or because officials condoned the killings. The government arrested those who were responsible for this, as far as it was able to determine the culprits and sent them to the martial law court. Quite a few of them were executed.

How many defenceless individuals were killed? At that time it was extremely difficult to establish the numbers; today it is completely impossible.

The statistics given as the death toil today are invariably the total of individuals who died for all the reasons stated above, from the declaration of war until the armistice. Today’s figure, which has been increased to 2,000,000 is this total. In his blue book, Toynbee writes that the number of Armenians who died might be 600,000. He calculated this number by subtracting the number of Armenians who were alive after the resettlement from the Armenian population before the war. Today we are able to do this calculation more easily, by a comparison with the documents existing then.

Dr. F.Nansen’s report states that according to the League of Nations Emigrants’ Committee, the number of Armenians who emigrated during the First World War from Turkey to Russia was between 400,000 and 420,000. This figure is the number of Armenians who emigrated from Turkey and who were living in Russia at the end of the war. It is apparent that these emigrants went to Russia before March 16, 1921, when the Moscow Treaty with Russia was signed and the Eastern Front was closed.

In 1921, the Istanbul Patriarch, in the statistics gave to the British, showed the number of Armenians living within the Ottoman borders before the Treaty of Sévres, including those who returned after they had been resettled, as 625,000. If those who emigrated to Russia are included, the figure totals 1,045,000. As the Armenian population in Turkey in 1914 was approximately 1,300,000, the total number of Armenians who died during the war cannot be more than 300,000.

Another method of calculation is possible. In Toynbee’s calculation in the document mentioned above, it is stated that on April 5, 1916 the number of settlers who had survived and were clustered in the regions of Zor, Damascus and Aleppo was 500,000. It is natural that this figure should have increased considerably by the end of 1916, because the resettlement process continued until October, 1916 and because not all those who had been resettled were sent to these three regions.

We stated that the number of those who were resettled was 702,900. Even the settlers still alive on April 5, 1916 were from these three regions, and even if all those who were resettled after this date died, the number of those who died during resettlement would be 20,000. As verification of this hypothesis, since it is not possible that all the people resettle in places other than the Damascus, Aleppo and Zor areas o April 5, 1916 and all those that were to be resettled after that date could have died, it is apparent that, based on this calculation, the number of deaths during resettlement was well below 100,000. This would also indicate that most of the casualties occurred during armed confrontations unconnected with resettlement process.

A third method of calculation could be based on the Armenian population within the Republic of Turkey, which, according to the first census held in 1927 was 123,602.

In the 1931 census in France, it was established that there were 29,227 Armenians who were foreign nationals and 5,114 born in Turkey, but French citizens. In other words, there were in aft approximately 35,000 Armenians. It is obvious that aft of them had come from Turkey.

The Canadian records show that 1,244 Armenians had come from Turkey between 1912 and 1914 (Imre Ferenczi, International Migration, Vol. I, New York, 1929, p. 891).

In the same period 34,136 Armenians emigrated to the United States, all of them from Turkey (Robert Mirak, Armenian Emigration, to the U.S. to 1915).

In 1928 the number of Armenians who emigrated to Greece was 42,000 (League of Nations, A. 33.1927).

The Bulgarian statistics record that in 1920 there were 10,848 Gregorian Armenians, and that in 1926 the figure was 25,402 (Annuaire Statistique du Royaume de Bulgarie, 1931, p. 35.)It would appear that the increase of 15,000 Armenians was caused by those who had come from Turkey.

Again according to the statistics of the League of Nations, 2,500 Armenians went to Cyprus.
Hovannisian gives the number of Armenians who emigrated to the Arab countries and Iran in the following list in ‘The Ebb and Flow of the Armenian Minority in the Arab Middle East’, Middle East Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Winter 1974), p. 20).
                
Armenian Minorities in the Arab Middle East
Country Population
Syria  100,000
Lebanon 50,000
Jordan 10,000
Egypt 40,000
Iraq 25,000
Iran 50,000

When we add to these figures the 420,000 Armenians who emigrated to Russia, we arrive at 824,560 or 825,000 if we round it off. If we count those who went to other European countries, together with the missing and the forgotten as 50,000, the figure comes to 875,000. If we add to this the Armenian population in Turkey in 1927 of 123,000, the figure becomes 998,000. When we subtract this number from 1,300,000 which was the Armenian population in 1914, we obtain the figure of 302,000.

Therefore, no matter which method of calculation is used, the number of casualties (we use this term because this is a society at war) among the Armenians of Turkey, for whatever reason, does not exceed 300,000. It is obvious that among these casualties, the number of deaths which, for all the reasons discussed, occurred during the resettlement will be less than this figure, and the number of people who can be considered as having been murdered will be much less.

A murderer is a murderer, no excuse can be given. Just as we do not condone the fact that Armenians massacred Turks, we do not condone the fact that Turks massacred Armenians. However, it was not on the orders of the government that these Armenian were massacred. As stated above, the culprits who could be arrested were sent to court, were given sentences, including the death sentence, and these sentences were carried out.
 
We would have wished that the Armenians who massacred the Turks had also been punished, but, they are portrayed in Armenian books as national heroes. Tehlirian, who assassinated Talat Pasha, has been described in some books as great a man as Hachaturian the world-famous composer. We regret this, at least on Hachaturian’s account What he thinks, of course, we have no way of knowing.

One more point deserves mention before this subject is concluded. The British led the way in spreading rumours of Armenian massacres throughout the world in shaping public opinion during the First World Later, Toynbee made great efforts to substantiate the information sent to him, but was unable to do so.

Another person who dealt extensively with this subject is Dr. Johannes Lepsius. Today the Armenians attach even more importance to Lepsius’ work, since they are aware that the account in the Blue Book could be distrusted on account of its propagandist aims.

We think it important to examine Lepsius’ background and aims. For this reason, we shaft refer to Frank O. Weber:

Lest other Armenians of the Ottoman Empire attempt to imitate the insurrectionaries of Van, Enver decided to suppress all Armenian schools and newspapers. Wangenheim regretted these orders as both morally and materially deleterious to Germany’s cause ... Nevertheless, the Ambassador instructed his consuls to collect any kind of information that would show that the Germans had tried to alleviate the lot of the Armenians. These notices were to be published in a White Book in the hope of impressing Entente and German public opinion (German Archives Band 37, No. A  20525).

The last found a powerful voice in Dr. Johannes Lepsius. The son of a famous archaelogist and himself a noted traveller and writer on the Near East, Lepsius was delegated by various Protestant Evangelical societies to enter Armenia and verify the atrocity stories at first hand. Wangenheim did not want the professor to come. He was as certain that the Turks would charge the Germans some sort of retribution for causing them this embarrassment as that not a single Armenian life would be spared because of Lepsius’ endeavours. But Lepsius convinced the Wilhelmstrasse that his intention was not to put pressure on the Turks but instead to argue the patriarchal entourage into greater loyalty toward the Ottoman regime. Alleging this as his reason, he got as far as Constantinople, where the Armenian Patriarch acclaimed him, but Talat refused him permission to travel into the interior lie had badgered Wangenheim unmercifully with letters, and the Ambassador described his reaction to Lepsius’ proposals as something between amusement and contempt. Yet Lepsius emphasized an argument to which the Ambassador was always open: the liquidation of the Armenians would seriously and perhaps irreparably diminish the prospects of ascendancy in Turkey after the war.

When Lepsius returned to Germany, he devoted himself to keeping the German public unsparingly informed about the Armenian massacres. Though the German newspapers were not as chary of this news as might have seemed desirable in the interest of the Turkish alliance, the professor still preferred to make his disclosures in the journals of Basel and Zürich. What he wrote was not always up to date or unbiased. Much of it came from Armenian informants in the Turkish capital and a large source, reworked with many variations, was given him by Ambassador Morgenthau at the time of his visit to Constantinople in July, 1915. Morgenthau showed him a collection of American consular reports detailing the atrocities and suggested that the Armenians be removed from the Ottoman Empire and resettled in the American West Lepsius took up that idea enthusiastically...

Lepsius pointed out to the Chancellor that if Germany made herself popular in Turkish Armenia, the Russian Armenians would be more likely to put themselves under German protection after the war.

Lepsius had not set foot in Anatolia, nor had he talked to one single Armenian there. All the information he gathered consisted of what the learned from the Patriarchate and to some extent the reports which the American Ambassador Morgenthau showed him. It is necessary to put Dr. Lepsius in the same category as the Protestant missionaries and to evaluate his writings in this light.



 

Russian Occupation and The Armenians

 

In 1915 Russia, with the eastern and south-eastern regions of Anatolia as. Its first goal, occupied the area encompassing Kars, Sar?kam??, Van, Bitlis and Mu?. In September of the same year, the Tsar became Commander in Chief of the Russian forces and appointed Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich as regent in the Caucasus as well as commander of the Caucasian front The Grand Duke was charged with the task of carrying through the Russian occupation of the Caucasus, Iran and Anatolia, thus fulfilling Russian geopolitical aspirations in these areas. The 300,000 troops under the command of the Grand-Duke brought the total Russian strength towards the end of 1915 up to 800,000. In contrast, the Turkish Armed Forces fighting to defend Anatolia were only 60,000 strong. Following the victory of Gelibolu, only one of the three Ottoman armies available could be deployed in the East, but it failed to arrive in time to prevent the almost entire occupation of the area.

Between January and the end of July, 1916, the Russians succeeded in occupying first Köprüköy, Hasankale and Erzurum, then Rize, Sürmene and Trabzon, and, finally, Mamahatun, Bayburt, Gümü?hane and Erzincan, thus realizing for the most part their geopolitical goals in these regions. They also gained control over the other strategic areas of Iskenderun and Adana. Furthermore, they were making preparations to extend their control at the earliest opportunity farther south to the Baghdat-Basra-Mosul fine. The Russians had also occupied important areas in Iran and had established complete ascendancy in the Caucasus.

In an assessment of the situation from the standpoint of the Armenian question, one important historical fact cannot be ignored: It is no coincidence that the lives along which the Armenian terrorist organizations embarked even at the beginning of the war on mutiny, rebellion and terror ran parallel to or were even identical with the Russian fines of expansion.

What the Armenians for years had wished for, hoped for, struggled and fought for had at last been accomplished the moment of liberation had come. Russia had occupied ‘Armenia’, as She called it and had established her sovereignty over it The areas within both Russian and Iranian territory, which were referred to as ‘Armenia’, were not under the sovereignty of a single state. Tsarist Russia would now open up to the Armenians all those areas which she had struggled for and occupied; she would bestow upon them ‘freedom’ which they had not previously experienced under the Ottoman Empire, and she would grant them ‘independence’. Two documents, the text of which we will present in full, show very clearly what significance these hopes and expectations had for Russia and also how Russia viewed the ‘Armenian question’ in general.
 
Document 1
No. 450 27 June, 1916

From: Sazanoff, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs
To: Nicholas Nicholaievich, the Tsar’s regent in the Caucasus.

The almost entire occupation of Armenia Major by our military forces and the imminent annexation of the region by the Russian Empire raise the question of its administration. Granted, it may be considered premature for the actual direction of our future domestic policies in the conquered areas to be determined before the war has ended. However, it seems to me important that even at this juncture we should outline in broad terms certain basic principles with regard to this matter, since “Interim Regulations Regarding the Administration of the Occupied Ottoman Regions in Accordance with Military Law” will be drawn up and shortly put into effect.

The most difficult and complex part of our task in time near future lies in bringing about a solution to the Armenian question. The reason is that while previously, during the period of Ottoman administration, Russia had the most important part to play in international efforts to the Armenian reforms; how, at the present time, part of Armenia (mainly these parts included in Armenia minor) have come under the protection of other states, with the result that this problem, transcends the bounds of Russian domestic politics. When establishing in the near future the administrative systems for the Armenian provinces which are now within our borders, we must constantly bear in mind these two important points I therefore venture to present to Your Excellence the following matters:

As you know, there are two trends of thought in Russia with regard to the solution of the Armenian problem. The first is to grant the Armenians complete autonomy under Russian protection, in the manner proposed to us in 1913. The second, in opposition to this is to reduce to zero the political importance of the Armenians and to replace them by Moslems.

It seems to me that neither of these solutions would serve Russian interests as regards either our domestic or foreign policies.

When considering the view that broad autonomy be granted to the Armenians, it must be borne in mind that the Armenians in Armenia Major, now in Russian hands, have never been in the majority. Previously they formed one quarter of the total population in the region; based on evidence given by the Armenians themselves, I can personally say that this ratio has become even smaller, following their harsh treatment at the hands of the Turks during the war. Under these conditions, the establishment of an autonomous Armenia would lead to injustice in the form of minority rule.

On the other hand, it would also be unacceptable for the Armenians to be sacrificed to the Moslem inhabitants of the region and for government forces to take the side of the Moslems in the clashes which would certainly break out between the two communities. Such a policy would place the Armenians in a much worse plight than when under Ottoman rule; and would result in then looking with envy at their fellow-Armenians beyond their borders. Such a solution, furthermore, would put Russia in a weak and awkward situation, for previously of all the countries that had demanded reforms in Armenia, it was Russia that made the greatest and most determined effort.

Consequently, it is my belief that the surest and most advantageous policy for us is, above all, the strict enforcement of law and justice during the reorganization of the territory seized from the Ottoman state and equal treatment of aft the people in the region, irrespective of race or creed; we should do nothing to incite one group against the other, nor should we show discrimination in giving one group benefits to the detriment of the other. Thus, within a definite framework, the Armenians can be granted freedom of worship and education, the right to use their own language and to have proportional representation in local government.

The same principles should also be applied to the non-Christian communities, as far as local conditions and their level of culture and civilization permit. As a matter offset, the interim regulations referred to above corroborate and support this view by allotting non-Christians a quota of seats on the village councils and administrative committees to represent their communities.

In matters concerning local land, property and colonization, the legal and judicial codes should be applied and enforced in similar manner.

It is my profound belief that the implementation of these principles will create among the people of the region love and respect for local government, will free them from the plague of domestic or foreign provocation, and will bring about new living conditions that will remove all painful memories of the former Ottoman administration.
 
Document 2
No. 2083 – Letter           16 July, 1916
 
From: Nicholas Nicholaievich, the Tsar’s regent in the Caucasus.
To: Sazanoff, Minister of foreign Affairs.

Sergey Dimitrievich;
I write in reply to your letter, no. 450, dated 27 June, 1916.1 share your view that it is most desirable that we determine at this point the principles which will serve as a basis for solving the problem of annexation of the Ottoman territories which we have occupied in accordance with military law. I also fully support your statement regarding the difficulties and complexities inherent in solving the Armenian question.

It is my profound belief that within the borders of present day Russia, no Armenian question exists. It is inappropriate even to think of such a thing, because the Armenians who are under Russian rule are regarded, exactly like the Muslims or Gregorians as having the same rights as Russian citizens.

The government in the Caucasus, which has been placed under my authority, is of the belief that the freedom of local communities to enjoy equal rights must be vigorously defended. I also will not conceal the fact that the increasingly uncompromising nature of the conflicting claims put forward by the people of this region is largely attributable to the way local government officials have acted up to now, albeit unwittingly, I do, on the other hand, believe that the violence which has been kindled by the intercommunal friction and clashes that have continued for centuries will completely die down and such conflicts cease if local governments can ensure that the Caucasian people enjoy the same equal rights as the Russian nation and that like it, they have close relations with the Tsar.

Therefore, if you definetely want to find an Armenian problem, you must look for it beyond the pre-World War borders of the Russian Empire in the regions seized from the Ottoman state.

Coming now to the opinions you have expressed regarding these matters, I am happy to observe that my views and ideas are entirelly in accord with yours.

In the establishment of order in the regions captured in Anatolia there can be no doubt the need to act in accordance with the law, sternly and decisively, and to remain absolutely impartial towards the ethnic groups inhabiting the regions.

Of course, discussion of the question of the establishment of an autonomous Armenia would be injudicious at present It would, in my opinion, interfere with the peaceful solution of other problems that have been created by the World War. However, I am in agreement with you on the following points: the need to grant the Armenians independence in matters of religion and education, freedom to manage church property, together with freedom to use their own language, with the proviso that Russian be used in aft official institutions.

I am also in favour of granting freedom to elect a certain percentage of representatives to town, village and city councils. The same principles should apply also to the non-Christian communities, in accordance with local conditions and their cultural level.

The legal and impartial procedures that you propose for dealing with the question of land, property and colonization are also, in my opinion, appropriate. As proof that I share your views on this matter, I am enclosing a copy of decree no. 131, issued by me on 19 March, 1916, forbidding every kind of illegal action, such as the independent seizure of land or dwellings in the regions taken over from the Ottoman state.

In conclusion, I must tell you the necessity of taking preventive measures from now on against the serious threat of food scarcities both in the army and the Caucasus region and against the dangers these will create in the future obliges me to consider sending back all Armenian deserters and refugees. These deserters and refugees will thus, by settling in their former home areas, be given the opportunity of becoming productive, while at the same time the Caucasus will be relieved of the burden of feeding them. Moreover, the problem of feeding the army here will also by alleviated by their returning to Turkish Armenia and starting a productive life there.

I remain, Yours very respectfully, Nicholas

Related to Russia’s geopolitical goals and expectations in Anatolia, another of her great aims was to produce and develop a “Slav race” in that area. This clearly meant the settling of Russians in the occupied regions. Some of the land had been allocated to the Cossacks. “The annexation of new territories, new countries where Russians could be settled” was one of the Russian Empire’s basic aims. For this reason, it was basically impossible for the cherished hopes of the Armenians to be realized. Immediately after their armies had occupied Erzurum, the Russians, in a decree issued by the Supreme Military Command, declared that “the Armenians had no right to settle in Erzurum.”

The following excerpt is taken from the August, 1916 issue of the newspaper Rec, published in Petrograd.

“In the occupied areas (to the south and southeast) of Turkey, which were recently discusses at the Duma, the settlement of Russian immigrants is being vigorously carried out. This problem has been the cause of heated arguments between the directorate of immigration and the military authorities. Investigations are being conducted with regard to the settling of Russians, not just in the border areas but in more distant plains, in particular the fertile plain of Mu?... There was also another project for settlement of the Cossacks, since good results had been achieved in the north of the Causasus. Those proposing this project wished to establish a rather broad and fertile area, which would be settled by Russians and by Russian and Turkish Armenians.

The Armenian refugees were slowly returning and beginning to cultivate their fields. Since their own towns had been completely destroyed, they are generally settled in towns which had been less badly damaged. To prevent trouble, Archduke Nicholas issued a strong, categorical statement demanding that the Armenians who had returned, should leave area as soon as Russian administration was established.”

This is just one of thousands of documents that reveal the real contradictions with regard to geopolitical expectations and the Armenian question, and making it quite clear for whose purposes the Armenians had been made an instrument.



Bolsheviks and Armenians

 

In 1917 the Bolshevik revolution succeeded in overthrowing the Tsar. A new regime and a new order were in the process of being established. The Bolsheviks were promising the Russian people and the world “First peace, then bread and freedom.” Immediately after seizing power, they started armistice talks to arrange for peace with Germany and the Ottoman Empire and a ceasefire. As the Brest-Litovsk peace negotiations continued, the Russians began to withdraw from the occupied areas in Anatolia. On 13 January, 1917, the famous declaration known as “Decree No. 13 and bearing the signatures of Lenin and Stalin was published. This declaration was to form the basis of Bolshevik policies from 1917 until the Turco-Soviet agreement and other agreements defining the eastern borders. In addition, it gave proof that Soviet geopolitical expectations had not changed. The main points of “Decree No. 13” were:

“The Government of the Workers and the Peasants supports the right of the Armenians in Turkey and Russia to determine their destiny as they wish until independence. The Council of Commissars is convinced that this right can be fulfilled only by ensuring first of all the conditions necessary for a referendum. These conditions are as follows:

(1) The withdrawal of armed forces from the borders of Turkish Armenia and the formation of an Armenian militia to protect life and property there.
(2) The return of Armenian emigrants who have taken refuge in nearby areas.
(3) The return of Armenians who have been exiled by the Turkish government since the begining of the war.
(4) The establishment of a temporary National Armenian Government formed by deputies elected in accordance with democratic principles (the conditions of this government will be put forward during the peace talks with Turkey.)
(5) The assistance of the Armenians in the realization of these goals by Shahumian, Commissar for Caucasian Affairs.
(6) The formation of a joint committee in order that Armenian lands can be evacuated by foreign troops.”

The Bolshevik revolution had a great effect on the Russian armies at the fronts. A great majority of the Russian troops fled or dispersed. In some units, the system of rank was turned upside down, corporals and sergeants leading some of the units. These armies were speedily withdrawing from the front and were evacuating the occupied areas. At the same time they were abandoning their positions in the occupied territories to Armenian gangs, fully armed and equipped, and to the Armenian battalions that still remained. A sizeable number of the leaders of these gangs were Russians, or Russian officers were acting as chief-of-staff and unit commanders of the militia forces. It was in these circumtanstances that the declaration was published. Its alms were clear: to handle the situation using the Armenian militia until such time as the dispersed Russian armies could be replaced by new Bolshevik forces, to fill the evacuated areas in the Caucasus region and to win over the Armenians again.

Up to the armistice period, the eastern borders of Turkey were not clearly defined. Two Armenian army corps were holding Kars and Sar?kam?? under military occupation and were continually perpetrating massacres of the Turks, both in the central regions of Anatolia with the help of the terrorist organizations and in the Caucasus and regions where Turks were in the majority with the help of the Armenian gangs.

The situation in the East, where Armenian acts of terrorism, large-scale fighting, massacres and atrocities were being perpetrated, was one of the most important factors leading to the start of the National Struggle movement.

The Dashnaks, who had established an Armenian government in the land known today as the Soviet Armenian Republic, were in conflict with the Bolsheviks. Some of the other Armenian terrorist organizations were working hand in hand with the Bolsheviks for the establishment of a new regime in Russia; some were continuing their acts of terrorism in Anatolia. As was apparent from the declaration of January 13, 1918, from Soviet demands years later and from the schemes devised at every opportunity against the Turkish Republic, the geopolitical expectations of Russia, whether Tsarist or Bolshevik, had in no way changed as far as Anatolia was concerned. As regards the subject under discussion perhaps one of the most important facts was that there could be no question of a change with regard to the Armenians. The Russians could never see the ‘Armenian question’ in terms of anything other than a war. This is what the Armenians did not grasp.



Change in British Attitude

 

The British attitude towards the Ottoman Empire underwent an important change in the face of a number of developments of great importance for the future of the world. The regime in Russia had changed. The Bolsheviks had repudiated all agreements made; in short, one of the partners in the scheme for the partitioning of Turkey had withdrawn. The United States had joined the War and played a significant part in developments in Europe. Despite the dismal situation, Turkish power had not collapsed; in fact, the Turks had not suffered a decisive defeat in any area. Germany was largely resigned to defeat.

On January 5, 1918, Lloyd George expressed the following views regarding Turkey:
We are not fighting to deprive Turkey of its richest lands in Thrace, or in Anatolia, where the Turks predominate numerically and where they have governmental control. We are not opposed to internationalizing or neutralizing the transit routes between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, nor are we against measures to protect Istanbul, the seat of Ottoman government, and to protect the heartland of the Empire, the land the Turks regard as their home. We support the Arabs, the Armenians, the Iraqis, the Syrians and the Palestinians in their demands for recognition of their independent national status.”
 
Taking the view that debate about the method of establishing national sovereignty in their own territories was unnecessary, he went on to say that “no obstacle now remained to Aimed discussions on the agreements previously reached, since Russia’s collapse has changed the whole situation.”

It was evident that the British wanted to fill the gap caused by Russia’s withdrawal. The ‘Armenian question’ was now likely topic of discussion among the allies, as was the question of a Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Naturally, it was a legitimate subject in terms of British aspirations.

In general, these views determined Britain’s approach hand policies in the areas where British interests conflicted with those of France and Italy. This situation was to continue until the Treaty of Lausanne. Meanwhile, the Armenians, realizing that they could achieve nothing by seeking Bolshevik support, turned once again to the West and to Britain for assistance.



The Mudros Armistice

 

The truce marked the end of the First World War; never again would the Ottoman state resort to force of arms. The Allied Powers immediately adopted a course of action which would violate all Ottoman rights of sovereignty. Istanbul was under de facto occupation. The Turkish armed forced had been demobilized, and the Turkish fleet was held under close surveillance. Communication systems and transit routes were in the hands of the Allies; they were also trying to gain complete control of Turkey’s financial and economic resources. The lifting of the blockade, which had continued since the beginning of time War, could be implemented only at the discretion of the allies. Greek demands during the War were also beginning to be met Apart from these developments, the Allies also seized the opportunity to occupy strategic points in those areas of Turkey which were of importance in terms of the geopolitical aspirations of the Allies, and which they had been granted in accordance with the terms of the secret partition agreements made earlier.

During the period immediately following the truce, there were three main lines of development with regard to the ‘Armenian question’. First of all, in east and northeast Anatolia and the southern part of the Caucasus, the Armenian armed forces were at war with the Turkish forces, as evidenced by the massacres of Turks and Moslems, by their forced resttlement and by the destruction of the villages and towns in which they had resettled. The outcome of the war was a victory for the Turks, the defining of Turkey’s eastern borders and the founding of the Republic of Armenia within the U.S.S.R. During this period, the atrocities and murders perpetrated in the above mentioned regions by the Armenian guerrilla bands constituted a full scale ‘massacre” and ‘genocide’ of the Turks and Moslems.

The second development was the intensifying of Armenian propaganda directed at Europe in general, and at British and French politicians and publich opinion, in particular. No politician in Europe went uncontacted by the representatives of the Armenian terrorist organizations, posing as representatives of the Armenian Republic as if they were state representatives. During this period, all the European states had adopted a stance of aloofness towards the Armenian terrorist organizations. The United States, on the other hand, was in every way warmly supportive of the Armenian cause; they wanted independent relations to be established under their personal supervision, along the fines of the general policies outlined above. This policy was to continue unchanged to our own day.

The third development was taking place in south and southeast Anatolia. During the movement of French forces from Syria to the south of Anatolia, the Armenians who lived there, or who had been settled in these parts while they were still within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, were advancing ahead of the French towards Adana, Mara? and Urfa. Taking advantage of the support of the forces following them, they continued their acts of terrorism in these areas, this time with the help of the French. Moreover, the circumstances in which these events occured are worthy of note and will serve as an example in world history. Some time before the Armenians who left Mara? and Adana to be resettled moved into their new areas of settlement with the French forces behind them. By applying to the courts, they were able to reclaim the lands and property they had sold on departure. Every Armenian application was examined; if their title deeds, existed, were returned to them; if they had proprietary rights over a property on which they had lived, the bill of sale was declared null and void and their rights of ownership were restored. Despite these measures, time Armenians tried to punish the Moslem people in the most violent manner, attacking, raping and killing them.

In the Mudros Armistice, the Alfred Powers failed to take into account one important factor: the strength of Turkish nationalism. Before long, this had developed into the National Struggle and the Turkish War of Independence. Prime factors giving rise to this movement were the massacres and other atrocities carried out by the Armenians in the east and southeast of Anatolia. The enemies were driven out of the country at the end of the War of Independence. Following the victories in the east, the borders of Turkey were redefined, and the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. During this period the Armenian activists made great efforts to win public sympathy in Europe and the United States, but they were unsuccessful in the face of the newly asserted strength of the Turkish nation. In time, the Americans came to understand that their geopolitical aspirations with regard to Anatolia could not be realized by occupation of the area, in accordance with the desires of the Armenians and those who wanted to use them to secure various advantages for themselves. Aware that the cost of any operation in Anatolia would be extremely high, they proposed to try to realize their ambitions in other ways.

The developments during the first twenty-three years of the century were by no means gratifying to the Armenian terrorist organizations. They still regarded as valid the Treaty of Sévres and with it the complete disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, for throughout history time exploitation of the opportunities secured for them by other people had in a way become a constant feature of time policies of the Armenian terrorist organizations. They were never able to accept the abrogation of the Treaty of Sèvres, which followed the Turkish National Struggle and War of Independence. However, as always, one point escaped their notice. As can be observed by anyone studying the history of Anatolia, it has never been possible for any power to gain possession of Anatolia by treaties and agreement. Nor has it ever been possible, to seize Anatolia by thrusting aside those who had shed their blood and sweat for these lands, in order to serve the ambitions of other powers.

The most striking characteristic of this period was the extensiveness and intensity of the propaganda activities, the variety and elasticity of the psychological pressure applied by states, and the fundamental part this played in almost all the means employed ranging from diplomacy to war. The ‘war’ theme has not changed. The Armenian representatives announced that they had always fought on the side of the Allies against the Ottoman Empire. That is why they wanted to benefit from the treaty at the end of the War. At Lausanne, the theme of an ‘Armenian homeland’ began to be examined. The British were again the main architects and propagators of this theme. The documents appearing in the first section of this Introduction are an attempt to appraise and to present the situation in this period and in the years up to 1973.

The basic characteristic and role of geopolitics in the ‘Armenian question’ become evident in a study of the treatment of the ‘question’ throughout the whole of the period that stretches from 1923 to 1973. During the 1973-1985 period too, one of the most powerful realities was also the expectations of various states with regard to Turkey. Those who presented and exploited these as a ‘threat’ were just as prevalent as the states that tried to control the situation.



THE MEANING OF THE ‘ARMENIAN QUESTION’

 

There have been many attempts at defining the ‘Armenian question’. A great proportion of these definitions repeat the stock themes used in propaganda campaigns and psychological warfare. Some others are the results of the efforts of terrorist organizations to impress the view points to the public at large, and as such their primary function is to reflect the political ideologies of those organizations. Religious organizations approach the question from the point of view of their own aspirations and beliefs. The various states handle the issue with an interest which varies in proportion to the advantages they hope to gain from its exploitation in the pursuit of their geopolitical objectives. In accordance with this policy they produce definitions that can be used to further their international contacts. With the same aim, whenever expedient, they bring these definitions up for discussion at international forums.

Whatever the accepted definition maybe, there is no doubt that political implications carry great weight The target is always Turkey and the Turkish nation, and, even though it may not be openly expressed on every occasion, the Turks are denigrated as people and subjected to calumny and hostile attacks. Any attempts at defining the ‘Armenian question’ are bound to face three important problems which make it excessively difficult, if not impossible, to come to an agreement over its meaning. The principle problem is created by the fact that the Armenians themselves, whose common aspirations and needs are believed to lie at the root of the ‘question’, are far from constituting a homogeneous and identifiable group. The Armenians of our day are people who were born and settled in different countries, entitled to all the rights and benefits of citizenship and with occupations in both the private and the public sectors. Hence, they all have different points of view, different attitudes and reactions. An English Armenian cannot be expected to see eye to eye with a French, Lebanese, Syrian or American Armenian. His expectations, hopes and aims would be unlike those of the others. Even if the Armenians of these countries could share similar views and emotions with, for example, a citizen of Soviet Armenia, this similarity would be limited. The second problem is that, most of the definitions proposed have been the consequences of political agitations and therefore their political significance outweighs their objective value. And, finally, as a third difficulty, we must mention the identification of the Armenian issue with Armenian terrorism. While this identification has provided terrorism with a powerful weapon of propaganda, it has deprived the concept of credibility and has reduced it to a formula for concealing reality. Definitions made to interpret the ‘Armenian question’ in terms of the historical developments related to the issue also face this obstacle.
 
Below are the main definitions that have been proposed up to the present time.

1. According to the definition given in the Constitutional Regulation of the World Armenian Congress, the ‘Armenian Question’, or the Armenian issue, is the outcome of a movement of national liberation, and as such it cannot be viewed in isolation from other nationalist movements pursued by the peoples of the same region. As has been noted above this definition reflects the search of Armenian terrorism for a formula that can supply it with a coherent meaning or structure. Its aim is to legitimize terrorism through the use fallacious analogies. This definition fails to reflect the truth and serves no practical purpose, since the states, the support of which the activists wish to enlist by defining their operations as a movement of liberation, become involved in the Armenian issue only when it serves their own interests and in so far as it can be exploited for their own advantages. Hence, this definition can only be used as a theme of propaganda promoted in cooperation with these states.

2. The ‘Armenian question’ has also been interpreted as being part of a large scale plan to weaken and undermine Turkey by powers with vested interests in the region and who do not want Turkey to become too strong, in case their future interests are imperilled. Consequently, they aim at keeping the issue constantly on the agenda. Although this definition has historical
foundations and is not at variance with reality, yet it is not adequate as an interpretation of the problem since it avoids the Armenian dimension.

3. The ‘Armenian question’ is merely Armenian terorism, which, in turn, is a small scale manifestation of the general phenomenon of terrorism that prevails in the world. While this definition fits in with the explanation of the behaviour and attitudes of the Armenian terrorist organizations and of their relations with one another, yet it too is incomplete because it attributes the problem solely to terrorism.

4. The ‘Armenian question’ is a façade used by international crime organizations, such as those dealing in narcotics. These organizations which engage in activities that threaten to destroy humanity for the sake of gain, aim at concealing their true objectives by diverting the attention of the public to Armenian terrorism. This definition may throw some light on the contacts of Armenian terrorist groups, however, it can neither explain the question nor provide a historical perspective for understanding the events and situations related to the issue. Moreover, it confuses the meaning of the question further by narrowing the scope of the
problem and confining it within the limits of a very special situation and a short time span.

5. The ‘Armenian question’ is used as an excuse for perpetuating blood feuds and revenge. According to this definition Armenian terrorism is a means of exacting retribution and revenge for the so-called atrocities to which the Armenians were subjected in the past. This definition is also untenable, because it fails to reflect the views of the majority of the Armenian people, in whose names those acts are committed though they themselves are uninvolved in terrorism. On the contrary, these people also suffer from the pressure exerted on them by such organizations.

6. The ‘Armenian question’ is the expression of the Armenian aspirations and claims for land from Turkey in order to set up a national home. This definition has some validity in that it gives expression to a psychological and emotional reality that lies behind the problem. However, it is impratical, for the Armenians today possess neither the national unity nor the power to realize this aspiration which many Armenians even today would find difficult to reject. At the same time, it cannot be supposed that a great number of the Armenians who now live as the citizens of the countries where they have settled would give up their homes to seek a new place of settlement. Despite being infeasible, this interpretation of the Armenian question’ may serve to explain some of the motives that lie behind Armenian terrorism. But, even then, it cannot explain how terroristic activities might be expected to achieve such an end. For, states are not known to capitulate with terrorism on issues that relate to their sovereignty. It is even more unrealistic to assume that a country of the stature of Turkey, the strength of whose national forces comes top among a number of states likewise renowned for their military power, would bow down before terrorism. If this were to happen we would have to look for other causes.

7. The ‘Armenian question’ can also be defined in historical perspective, according to its manifestation in different periods. We have attempted earlier to give a historical outline of the different attitudes to this question from the sixteenth through the twentieth century. However, the historical approach is not adequate for an understanding of the meaning of Armenian terrorism in the period between 1973 and 1985. The reason for this clearly lies in the drastic changes of our time, from political circumstances to everyday conditions. The Armenian terror organizations fail to comprehend the dynamics of these changes. This is also the mistake of those who expect to reap advantages from terrorist activities.

8. Finally, the ‘Armenian question’ is best understood by seeing it from another angle as the question of the Armenian people themselves, whose sense of national identity, which arose in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as an awareness sharpened by the promotion of hostility against Turkey, is fast disappearing today. Armenians as individuals living in different societies, inhabiting different geographical regions, belonging to different churches, speaking different languages, sharing the same aspirations and anxieties with different people, are no longer united by the consciousness of being ‘Armenian’. Moreover, many of them disapprove of the only legitimate Armenian state, that is, Soviet Armenia and refuse to recognize it as the representative of the Armenian nation. For this reason, the primary question faced by the minority organization which began their activities in the sixties was how to revitalize the concept of the Armenian national identity. It was with this end in view that in the period 1973-1985 the theme of hostility against Turkey and the Turks was resumed. Consequently, Armenian terrorism was reactivated with the help of a number of states, organizations and interest groups. In fact, the question for time Armenians today is how to revive and keep their sense of identity, how to prevent themselves from becoming second class citizens and, how to assert, instead, their unity as people having a language and religion of their own. It has become manifest that terrorism was unable to resolve this question. In short, the ‘Armenian question’ or the Armenian issue may be defined as the question of keeping the Armenians’ sense of identity alive. The necessity for the Armenians to unite around a single aim or ideal constitutes another aspect of the question. It is to meet this need that the most recent ‘Constitution’ of the Armenian people has been prepared.



B. ARMENIAN TERROR ORGANIZATIONS

Common Features:

 

I. The survey of the aims and strategies of the Armenian minority organizations from a historical perspective during the phase of New Armenian Terrorism (1973-85) shows that they had all assumed the character, aims and functions of terrorist organization. Their activities were directed towards the objectives of inciting and perpetrating revolts, revolutions ad acts of terrorism.

It has already been noted above that the Dashnaks who had become organized in time 1890’s, had adopted a programme based on terroristic strategies, such as forming gangs, demoralizing the target Ottoman population, killing the Turks and undermining their sovereignty, arming the Armenian minority groups in preparation for uprisings, revolts and terrorism, forming revolutionary committees and murder squads, and destroying governmental institutions. After seizing power and establishing an Armenian Republic (1918-1920) within a year of the Russian Revolution, in the region where Soviet Armenians situated today, the Dashnaks engaged in diplomatic activities and tried to assert themselves as a legitimate power, nevertheless, the fundamental terroristic philosophy never disappeared and resurfaced years later in 1972 with the formation of an subsidiary group named the Justice Commandos for Armenian Genocide. The operations of this group are well-known to everyone, not least to the non-involved Armenians on whom they exert constant pressure.

Similarly, the Marxist Hunchak organization has shown that it too endorses terrorism by the protection and support it gives to ASALA, the principal terrorist organization of the period 1973-1985. It is noteworthy that the Hunchaks provided the inspiration and intellectual impetus for the creation of this group.

For terrorist organizations, the Armenian cause, or the Armenian issue no matter what interpretations may be placed upon it has been identified with terrorism whilst the ideals or aspirations of the Armenian people have been reduced to hostility against the Turks and Turkey, to be pursued through vindictive acts and bloodshed.

II. The Armenian terrorist organizations are, as a rule, formed by a small number of activists, who control the central administration. The operations agreed upon by the central administration are carried out by a number of teams, each entrusted with specific duties. When required for propagandist purposes, these teams are made public under a variety of names, which serves the purpose of creating an impression of large numbers and wide-spread activity.

III. Terrorist organizations need not be situated in one specific physical or geographical location. They could be dispersed in several countries, or scattered over the same country. Although this situation on the surface gives an impression of a more democratic and open structure, yet, in reality, such organizations observe a strict discipline imposed by a central organization.
 
IV. Another characteristic of the terrorist organization is their tendency to split into a number of smaller groups both because of their differing functions and also as a result of rivalries between their members and their leaders. One outcome of this phenomenon is that each group that breaks away forms its own affiliate organization. Hence, there is an apparent mushrooming which once again produces the impression of proliferation.

V. Secrecy forms one of the basic tenets of these organizations. However, at times, particularly through the instrumentality of the subsidiary team, disclosures are made in order to publicize the activities performed as an occasion for propaganda. This policy also serves the aim of concealing the main centre from detection, which can thus continue its activities in security. For the same reasons, the teams make announcements both before and after committing crimes and take responsibility for them.

VI. In all Armenian terrorist activities, terrorism goes hand in hand with psychological coercion. In fact, the former is a phase in the process of applying the latter. Terrorism can be used as a means of propaganda, as well as an instrument of oppression, intimidation and retribution. The second use of terrorism is reserved for those who oppose the activist organizations or disobey its commands. The majority of non-involved Armenians are subjected to such pressures.

VII. These organizations possess an immense store of expertise and experience in the fields of public relations, communications and the media. Moreover, they have close contacts with the institutions and the people who disseminate information and influence public opinion. Such expertise and contacts provide the organizations with opportunities for survival and gradual expansion.

VIII. The terrorist organizations enjoy the open or secret support of one or more states. These may use them either as an instrument to further their own interests, or as a means of covering up their secret organizations or propaganda units.

IX. Hostility against Turkey and the Turks provides the terrorist organizations with a motive for their existence and survival, as well as serving to rationalize their claims and demands. However, in countries which have close relations with Turkey, the hostile reactions apparently provoked by these organizations tend to be short-lived. Indeed, in such cases, particularly when terrorism takes as its target not only Turkey but also the country where it operates and its citizens, it has to be assumed that the activists are aiming at intimidating their opponents, rather than carrying out hostile operations against the host country.

X. In retrospect, Armenian terrorism appears to have three main objectives: 1) to compel the Armenians to join the ranks of the activists by exerting pressure on them, thus securing their support, 2) to influence world public opinion by convincing it of the might and scope of Armenian terrorism, and 3) to prepare the ground for hostility against Turkey in case of future conflicts of interests and political confrontations on the international scene.

The nineteenth century myth of an enslaved and impoverished minority deprived of its rights, and the twentieth century theme of a nation subjected to massacres and genocide have both been used in order to have access to sources of power in international relations. These sources will probably be enlisted in the service of nations who are Turkey’s rivals or even by international institutions for specific ends. What, in fact, is not known among the aims of the terrorist organizations is the to which the opportunities, that arise by instigating international conflicts, will ultimately be put. This is no other than the attainment of the goal or ideal, which they expect to be realized through its own momentum in the course of a historical process outside their immediate sphere of influence.



Terrorist Organizations (1973-1985)

 

In the era of New Armenian Terrorism, Dashnak and Hunchak organizations function as the main centres which encourage, promote and train terrorist groups so that they can develop and expand over new areas and increase the scope of their targets. Their leadership extends to the formation of new terrorist groups and teams, providing man-power, intellectual and moral support for the newly founded organizations, and the preparation of the ground for their activities through the establishment of contacts and relations. Apart from these, ASALA, short for the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia constitutes another major terrorist organization. It has succeeded in having its name mentioned more than that of any other group, and as such has become almost synonymous with Armenian terrorism. Together with the traditional organization and their offshoots, ASALA, too, is the initiator of the new era of terrorism. As has been noted above, despite its seemingly independent status, ASALA is affiliated to the Hunchaks, deriving its moral and Intellectual strength from them, as well as making use of their established contacts and relations.

Seen from this angle, it may indeed be claimed that terrorism as we see it in our day is a continuation of the earlier tradition of terroristic activities, which was revived under the favourable circumstances of the sixties, and, making use of the opportunities that were created anew, once again embarked upon its mission of hostility against the Turks, engaging in criminal acts of the greatest inhumanity and cruelty.

One of the attempts at rationalizing terrorism is provided by Michael M. Gunter in his study on “Armenian National Liberation”, where he claims that the peoples of many different countries in our day support the struggles of the terrorists and believe in the validity of the reasons for which they take action. Similarly, Gerard J. Libaridjian, the editior of the Armenian Review and director of the Zorian Institute for Contemporary Armenian Studies situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, explains the reasons that lie behind Armenian terrorism as follows: “The reluctance of Turkey and the major world powers to recognize the exasperation of the Armenians, even after sixty years spent in attempts at establishing peace, has resulted in bringing about a new era of terrorism.” Agop Agopian, the ASALA leader, on the other hand, argues that Armenian terrorist activities emerged “after it became evident that the policies pursued by the traditional parties had failed.”

In the light of these statements it becomes clear that those who share such views present the situation as if it were one that entails a choice between peaceful or violent methods of pursuing the Armenian cause; they ignore the phenomenon of Armenian terrorism as a continuing historical process. Moreover, they fail to explain from what source they derive the right to launch such violent attacks against Turkey and to instigate revolutions, revolts and warfare with the aim of destroying its unity, nor do they tell us who invests them with this right or authorizes the exercise of such acts. The terrorists claim a right to perform acts of violence-the right to cherish animosity, seek revenge and commit assasinations-and to execise this right freely. They pretend not to be aware of the fact that the Armenian activist organizations were engaged in terroristic operations right from the start. For the new era of terrorism is clearly a revival of the older and traditional phase of terrorism, reactivated as a result of preparations made in the sixties through propaganda campaigns and demonstrations, as a means of manipulating the aspirations of certain countries and peoples over Turkey and taking advantage of the attitudes of rivals exploiting her political and economic difficulties. One need not doubt, however, that the era of New Armenian Terrorism will come to the same end as the former. Yet, in the meantime, the Armenian people themselves are undergoing the humiliation and anguish of being branded as terrorists in the eyes of the world and observe with anxiety the course taken by the events. This is an aspect of the situation which the terrorist organizations do not wish to see, or perhaps, one which their mentors refuse to see. In this way, regardless of the harm caused, propaganda and psyhological coercion campaigns continue to be waged on a large scale.



The Dashnak Terrorist Organization

 

The ‘Armenian Revolutionary Federation’ or “Dashnak Organization” is also known as the “Dashnak Party.” In fact, after the communist take over of the Armenian Republic, the Dashnak organization continued its existence as a party in exile, mainly in Lebanon, Iran, France, Greece and the United States. This organization has remained active up to the present day and has performed a significant role in planning and promoting the new era of Armenian terrorism, as well as forming teams and groups for carrying out terroristic operations. A move was made, later in its career, to have its name changed from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation to the Armenian National Committee. The intention behind this was to achieve greater effectiveness in its propagandist activities by the removal of a name that could offend Western sensibility.



1. The Structure of The Organization

 

a. ‘Bureau’: This is the most important organ of the organization and takes the decisions that determine its administrative policies. In appearance the bureau represents collective leadership. It consists of eight members, one each from California, France and Iran and five from Lebanon the members elect a chairman. The bureau, which was based in Lebanon until the outbreak of the Civil War, was moved from there to the United States and then to Greece and France. The regulations of the bureau and its decisions are kept secret it is known that a person named Hrair Marukian, Persian by birth and domiciled in France, was its chairman until 1985.

b. “The Central Committee”: It is the highest-level executive organ. It establishes the link between the bureau and the local groups and organizations. It is instituted in places where there is a sizable Armenian population. Lebanon and France have one central committee each, whilst the United States has two, one on the eastern and the other one on western coasts. Under the pyramid-shaped structure the local organizations and their organs take place. These are known by the names of a variety of Armenian associations and clubs, such as the Federation of Armenian Youth, the Youth Organization, the Armenian Boy and Girl Scouts Club, organizations for sport and cultural activities.

c. There are also various offices operating under the central committees, such as those in charge of propagandist activities and publicity, as well as legal, financial, military and educational matters. These offices offer purely technical service or advice. As an example of an office rendering a specific service, we can mention the Committee for Supervising Armenian Immigration.



2. Aims
 
The Dashnak terrorists organization defines the meaning of the Armenian cause or the Hay Taht as the establishment of an independent and non-communist Armenia within the boundaries designated by the abrogated Sèvres Treaty and the enforcement of the payment of compensation by Turkey in return for the crimes said to have been committed against the Armenians. Dashnak publications give expression to this objective in the words, “We will continue to insist on the implementation of the Sévres Treaty, as being one of the milestones in the pursuit of our cause.” In another publication, the aims of the Dashnaks are summarized as the recognition of the right of the Armenians to live in their own lands and to govern themselves. More commonly, the aims of the Dashnaks are presented as centering around three specific demands:

 

a) the recognition of the Armenian claim that genocide was committed,
b) the payment of a compensation by Turkey,
c) resetllement in the Armenian homelands.



3. Strategies and Policies

 

Although the Dashnaks have publicly declared that their strategies are directed towards the realization of their aims through peaceful means, neither the events of the past nor their activities in the new era of Armenian terrorism have proved this to be true. This ‘party’ which has all the characteristics of a terrorist organization, can assume, when needed, a peaceful guise and mislead the public by using propagandist tactics perfected through long years of experience. In fact, as has been said above, it was the Dashnaks who were responsible for the establishment of the Justice Commandos for Armenian Genocide whose name was later changed to the Armenian Revolutionary Army. It is, indeed, the Dashnaks who decided upon and planned the assassinations and bomb assaults carried out by this group. These activities suffice to show that the Dashnak organization never abandoned the terroristic tendencies it possessed at its inception. Nonetheless, there is a significant difference between the strategies employed by the Dashnaks and those by ASALA. ASALA makes no distinction between the Turks and other nationalities, all of who can figure indiscriminately as their targets, whereas the Dashnak organization and its affiliates take Turkish citizens or official representatives of Turkey as the sole targets of their deadly operations.

After the killing of the Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles in 1972, the Justice Commandos announced that their targets were “only Turkish diplomats and Turkish institutions.” The same declaration of intention was made in connection with the assault carried out by the Armenian Revolutionary Army against the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon in 1983. The difference that exists between the strategies of the Dashnaks and ASALA may be explained by observing the historical development of the two organizations. As we have seen, the Dashnaks took a pro-Western stance in the nineteenth and the first two decades of the twentieth century and aimed at influencing public opinion in the West, whereas the Hunchaks turned towards Russia for protection and support it is significant that, during the years 1973-1985, terrorism made use of both camps.

The strategy adopted by the Dashnaks finds its clearest expression in the announcement made in the wake of the Lisbon attack According to this, “a national liberation movement has to go through two phases in order to attain its end: firstly, the phase of internal propaganda, when bases of support are secured; secondly, the phase of external publicity directed towards gaining the sympathy of the world and attracting attention for the cause: hence the necessity for organizing activities that serve as demonstrations.” For the Dashnaks, Armenian terrorism was but a form of demonstration conducted as part of their strategy. In other words, the assaults bombings and raids that were carried out and the people who were injured, killed or trampled to death in the course of these incidents, were all considered to be the necessary elements of a scenario that made up the ‘demonstration’.

The Dashnak historian Varandjian described the characteristics of the Dashnak terrorist organization in the words: “Perhaps no other revolutionary party, not even the Russian Narodovoletz (Narodnaya Volya) or the Charbonari of the Italians, adepts though they were at terrorism and undaunted by anything that came in their way, could breed terrorists as reckless and impassioned as the Dashnaks. Hundreds of men carrying guns, daggers and bombs are up in arms.” It is sobering to reflect that during the period we have studied the mission of these “reckless and impassioned” terrorists was to attack Turkish Institutions and the Turks.



4. The Congresses of Vienna and Munich

 

1. On December 27, 1981 the following resolutions were taken in the twenty-second Dashnak Congress held in Vienna:

a) The Party’s goal is to secure the establishment of a united and independent Armenia.
b) Pressure should be exerted on other Armenian organizations by the political committees to induce them to join the ranks of the Dashnaks.
e) Complete agreement with the West must be secured.
d) Close relations have to be established with the Soviet Union, and Armenian Immigration must be stopped.

2. In the Munich Congress held at the end of 1984 with the participation of representatives from fifteen countries, the following resolutions were passed:

a) New campaigns must be launched to publicize the Armenian cause.
b) An attempt must be made to resolve the ‘Armenian question’ through legal and other peaceful measures, for example, a campaign must be conducted to bring the issue of genocide before the United States Congress and the United Nations Committee for Human Rights so as to secure its recognition.

In the declaration made at the end of the Congress, the delegates made the following announcement: “We are to continue our struggle for the recognition of the legal rights of the Armenian people and of the genocide committed by the Turks; as well as the payment of a compensation for the human, cultural and economic losses endured by our nation and the restitution of the Armenian national home which has belonged to us for thousands of years.”

The resolutions taken at both the Congresses are of interest in facilitating the identification of the themes that were to be used as means of propaganda by the Dashnak terrorist organization.



5. Support and Connections

 

The Dashnak terrorist organization derived its support largely from the United States and Europe. It operated on the bask principle of avoiding, as far as possible, contact with the other terrorist organizations. Instead it had links with various organizations in the states mentioned, its primary source of support being the Church and the Union of Churches, as well as the Armenian lobbies and research centres. 



6. Political Developments

 

1) Up to the 1970’s the “liberation and independence of Soviet Armenia” formed the basis of the policies determined and Implemented by the Dashnak terrorist organization. For this reason, the Dashnaks gave priority to hostilities against the U.S.S.R. and engaged in a merciless struggle against those who supported and controlled Soviet Armenia. During Christmas worship, the Archbishop of the Holy Cross Armenian Church in New York was assassinated by a Dashnak suicide-killer. The reason given was the Archbishop’s approval of the situation in Soviet Armenia.

2) After the 1970’s, the breakup, due to death and other factors, of the ruling party in the Armenian Republic and the comparisons being drawn between the Third World liberation movements and the Dashnak terrorist movements led to significant changes in the Dashnak policies. Their hostility was now directed against Turkey and the Turks. “Fascist Turkey” had become the real enemy; Turkey’s ally, the United States, was also counted among their enemies. The “Justice Commandos for Armenian Genocide” (JCAG), a terrorist group established in 1972 and organized by the Dashnaks, were put into action as a result of the policy changes mentioned above. The Aztag Shapatoriag, the propaganda organ of the Dashnaks and especially of the JCAG, issued a warning of ”terror” when they announced that “terrorism is the last hope and the only path to follow in the liberation struggles of today.”

3) Despite all the propaganda efforts by the Dashnak terrorist organization, the Lisbon operation was seen as a complete failure. The attempts to represent the attack on the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, as a turning point in terror did not win general acceptance. Following this, they were obliged to change the name of the JCAG to “Armenian Revolutionary Army”; even so, this did not produce the desired results. In particular, the arrest and conviction in 1984 of Sasunian, one of the Dashnak murderers, proved a great setback to Dashnak policies. The Dashnaks lost the support of American-born Armenians. According to the Armenian Reporter, the Dashnak Party had been taken over by Lebanese Armenians from abroad, and was powerless hi the face of a lagre majority who did not support terrorism. The weakening of the terrorist wing of the party led to increasing clashes of opinion at the highest level of the Executive Council and Central Committees. The highest officials in the party were split into two groups. Powerful members of the Executive Council, representatives of the Lebanese Central Committee and leading members of the party administration were murdered in Beirut or disappeared without trace. By the end of 1985, it was impossible to speak of a united Dashnak Party. Two important external factors helped to create this situation within the Dashnak terrorist organization. The first was the revelation that the Dashnak leaders had had connections with secret service organizations in certain countries and that these were trying to establish control over the Armenian churches. The second was the struggle between ASALA and the Dashnaks. ASALA described the Dashnak leaders ad “parasites who were sucking the blood of Armenians dry.” As a matter of fact, these developments within the Dashnak terrorist organization were not new. Whenever such conflicts and divisions arose in the past, the Dashnaks always re-emerged sometime later. In the World Armenian Congresses, the Dashnaks have always been, and will continue to be, a force to reckon with. As for the policy changes, they may be construed as being due to temporary conflicts in leadership.



7. The Media

 

Within the Armenian terrorist organizations, the Dashnak terrorist organization was experimenting in the field of propaganda and was giving support to that extent. They had acquired the means of constantly informing world opinion of their goals, their activities and their policies thorugh the press and broadcasting media; for example, through various serials and feature films, through radio programmes which they had purchased, thorough private radios, television and video films. Quite a few countries showed interest and provided the Dashnaks with special support in this area. Among the most important Dashnak publications were Hayrenik and Asbarez, both published in Armenian in the United States, together with the Armenian Weekly, which was published in English.

The Dashnaks also organized twenty-two world conferences in places such as Paris, Bucharest, Erevan and Munich, although the number of participants was limited. This was a tremendous propaganda and publicity effort on their part.



The Asala Terrorist Organization

 

During the new phase of Armenian terrorism from 1973 to 1985, the terrorist organization most frequently mentioned was ASALA (the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia). No information has yet been published on its establishment, structure and activities. With regard to ASALA, various Armenian sources and publications provide information about certain individuals, and the results of terrorist activity, mostly obtained from publications issued by the organization or terrorist group. This is Information which the terrorist group wishes to publish or does not object to having published. With regard to the founding of ASALA, some publications link it with the events in Lebanon; they take the view that it was established under the inspiration of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, within which it had been active. Others claim that it was founded by a small group of Armenians, who, within a short time, carried out the most sensational and effective acts of terrorism of the period. All this is very far from providing a complete explanation of how ASALA was founded. Until the conditions under which ASALA first appeared as an organization are better known and the gap it filled is more satisfactorily elucidated, present doubts will continue for a long time to come.

It is generally known that the first Armenian terrorist activities of the new period were in accordance with the policies and targets of the Dashnak terrorist organization. Throughout the course of history as well as in the period under discussion, the Dashnaks were completely pro-Western. They adopted a policy of limited terrorist activity which was directed basically against Turkish targets, and, as revealed by various sources of evidence, they obtained help and support from the Western states; in fact, they collaborated with them. Basically, their principles and historical development did not allow them to adopt a different approach. In this situation, one sphere of activity still remained. Namely that relating to the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, which appealed to the younger Marxist Revolutionary generations and, particularly, to the “New Armenian Resistance Organizations”, in France. In fact, this area had long since been filled by the Hunchaks. Since 1960, they, with their various points of view, had also been preparing for a new period of terror. However, the Hunchaks were not in evidence, and a terrorist organization, wishing to be regarded as completely new, appeared on the scene in the guise of ASALA. When the factors leading to the new period of Armenian terrorism are taken into consideration and their aims and policies, especially as a Hunchak terrorist organization, are examined, the conclusion can be reached that ASALA is a terrorist offshoot of the Hunchaks. It was, above all the conditions and new developments in Lebanon that lay behind the emergence of this group, as a new terrorist organization which because known for the various acts of terrorism for which it claimed responsibility. In fact, no significant change has taken place. The two Armenian terrorist organizations once again occupy the centre of the stage against the backdrop of history. The first is more in evidence, operating through its terrorist offshoots, whilst the second operates under cover, in the guise of a terrorist group to which it has given manpower and expertise, as well as moral support. This group in turn carries out terrorist activities through subsidiary groups and teams.



1. Foundation and Organizational Structure

 

ASALA was founded in 1975. The leader of this terror organization is known to have been Agop Agopian, one of the two most active members of the six or seven founding members. The second was Agop Tarakdjian, who was personally involved in terrorism and other criminal activity and who ensured the continued existence of the organization in the absence of Agop Agopian. The second of these two men died in 1981, whilst the first continued as leader throughout the whole of this period, apart from the time spent under treatment for wounds received. He was well known as a mujahid and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The organization was structured in accordance with the general practice of the Armenian terrorist groups. The Lebanon Central Committee was the supreme executive body. In 1980 this committee took on a very important form in the Lebanon and assumed the nature of a “bureau”. Subordinate to the Central Committee were bodies such as the Political Committee, the Finance Committee, the Propaganda and Information Committee, the intelligence Committee and the Military Committee. Subordinate to the Military Committee were a number of operational teams.



2. Aims and Objectives

ASALA revealed to the world its aims and objectives in a “political programme” published at the end of 1981. According to this, the aim of ASALA was “the foundation of a united Armenia under the leadership of a democratic, socialist, revolutionary government”. The identity of the government in question is quite clear from the definition. All aid was welcome from the USSR and other socialist countries, while at the same time Soviet Armenia was accepted as a base in “the long struggle of the Armenian people”.

In this political programme their enemies were divided into two groups. The first of these was the Dashnak Armenian terrorist group, and all the “regional reactionaries” who opposed, or at least failed to support ASALA. The second was “Turkish imperialism, aided and abetted by international imperialism”.

ASALA believed that ”the only way of liberating Armenian territory was through the use of violence”, and issued public announcements to this effect. According to their programme, ASALA was to support all those who rejected the domination of the ruling classes and who were willing to work towards the foundation and strengthening of coalitions within the international revolutionary movement. Violence and terror formed an essential element in this programme.
 
In order to realize ASALA’s aims and objectives it was not essential that terrorist activities should be directed solely against Turks and the Mends of Turkey, or against people in positions of power or authority. “Terror is a phenomenon” and the important point is its scope and dimension. The actual targets maybe of secondary importance. Greatest stress it to be laid on murders and massacres that will arouse violent public reaction. Whether the targets are men, women or children, Turks or non Turks, is of little significance. Nevertheless, first importance was to be given to attacks on Turkey and the Turks. The importance of the attacks and massacres carried out in the airports of Paris and Istanbul, In the Istanbul Covered Market and the airport of Orly, lay entirely in the nature and violence of the reaction these were aimed at arousing.



3. Strategy, Attitudes and Behaviour

The essential aim of ASALA was to make the Lebanon the centre for all progressive Armenian movements through out the world and the point from which all operations would be directed. In short, all progressive Armenian groups were to unite in the Lebanon and for the basis for an “ASALA Popular Movement”. In this way, all progressive Armenians could enter into an official organization in which their individual strengths could be united.

An attempt was made in the summer of 1981 to put this section of ASALA strategy into effect by calling all progressive Armenians to a meeting in the Lebanon. By “progressive” was meant “Marxist Leninist”.

The second stage of this strategy began with the terrorist activities and open war undertaken by the organization thus founded with the help of certain socialist states. Armenian terror formed an integral part of the struggle for independence in the Middle East, uniting with other movements directed against the integrity of Turkish territory. This led inevitably to the union of ASALA and PKK.

ASALA was clearly terrorist in attitude and behaviour. In all ranks of the administration terror and the implementation of terror was regarded as an essential feature of the organization. The leaders murdered one another, liquidated those of whom they disapproved or had them done away with. Apart from this, each terrorist team was presented to world opinion as if it were a separate Armenian organization and all types of propaganda were carried on by this means. Responsibility for the crimes committed was assumed by various organizations whose names had never before been heard of. A list is to be found in an appendix at the end of this introduction showing how in 1981 and 1982 the murders, crimes, bombings and raids were carried out by a single organization but attributed to groups with a variety of different names. By examining this list the reader will find a number of operations claimed to have been carried out by a great many different Armenian groups but which actually all bear the mark of a single team and a single organization. All these so-called independent groups remained subordinate to and directed by ASALA itself.



4. Political developments

The first stage in the political development of ASALA, which is generally agreed to have been founded in 1975, was highly effective, and the organization was strengthened by new forces recruited during the Armenian Congress in Paris in 1979. It gained further strength in 1981. In 1983 it split in to two factions.

The first operation carried out by ASALA was the assassination by Agop Tarakdjian, one of the founders of the organization, of Oktay Cerit, First Secretary in the Turkish Embassy in Beyrut, on 16 February 1976. The period up to 1979 was marked by ASALA’s involvement in the conflicts between the various Palestinian groups, in the course of which Agopian, one of the leaders, was wounded. Links with the Armenian terrorists in France were established during the Armenian Congress meeting in Paris in 1979, which saw the organization strengthened by the addition of new elements and fresh blood. The most famous of the new members were Alex Yenikomshian and Monte Melkian. In 1981 a number of terrorist attacks carried out by ASALA on innocent groups or individuals having severely shaken its standing in world public opinion. Following the Israeli occupation of the Lebanon the ASALA leaders were forced to leave the Lebanon along with the Palestinians. A split in the organization took place in 1983.

• The Agop Agopian Group - This was centred in Greece and the Middle East. Its terror was directed indiscriminately against Turks and non-Turks, as well as against innocent women and children. It was this group that was responsible for the attack at Orly.
• In Western Europe the movement operated under the name of the “Asala Revolutionary Movement”. This followed a more moderate course of action and directed its terror solely against Turks. The leaders of this group were Monte Melkonian and Ara Toranian. Toranian was the leader of a group centred in Paris known as the “Armenian National Movement” which described the Orly attack as a purely Fascist operation.

Melkonian, who had been born in Iran, declared his intention of setting the Armenian struggle on a sound political footing. According to this the movement had two aims; to rouse the Armenians to action, and to make common cause with other groups in their struggle against Turkey. In this second stage, Melkonian was involved in establishing alliances with other groups while Agopian continued with his own type of activity.



5. Support and Alliances

ASALA received support from three main sources:

1. The Soviet Union, the Eastern block and other socialist countries.
2. Countries such as Greece and Syria whose geopolitical expectations depended on the destablization of Turkey from within and without.
3. Various communist parties, indirectly from the Hunchak Armenian terrorist organization and its sympathisers, and also from the Armenian church, in spite of its difference in outlook.

In ASALA’s links with other groups first priority was given to relations with non-Armenian terror groups which threatened Turkey directly or indirectly, and whose activities ran parallel to the strategy implemented by ASALA itself. In the period between 1976 and 1980 these consisted of groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, activist members of the various communist parties and the secret services belonging to certain states. In 1980 ASALA widened the scope of its activities following the agreement reached with PKK at a meeting in Sidon in the Lebanon, thus establishing unity of outlook and action between ASALA and PKK. As a matter of fact, these two organizations had already displayed a marked affinity in aims, structure and beliefs. From 1983 onwards ASALA relations began to develop along the lines of the strategy laid down by Monte Melkonian. First priority was given to terrorist activity within Turkey, and links were established with any group capable of furthering this strategy by either direct or indirect means. These groups were headed by PKK, the Turkish Communist Party and other communist organizations.



6. Publications and information media

• ASALA’s most important, official organ is Haiastan
• Other important publications include the periodicals Hai-Baikar, Armenia and Kaytzer, published in London.
• ASALA’s first radio broadcasts began in 1981 in Beyrut with a daily one-hour programme “The Voice of the Armenians in the Lebanon”. Apart from these facilities are provided by the public radio corporations and mass communication media belonging to countries with which it has established contacts.



C. ARMENIAN CONGRESSES

Throughout the period covered by the “Armenian Question” or “Armenian Problem” the Armenian terror groups have been given indirect encouragement by certain churches and states, while at the same time a number of Armenian congresses have been held at their request and invitation. Most of these congresses have been organized by the Dashnak or Hunchak terror groups and attended by their own members, together with other Armenians interested in the topic and representatives of the churches. Such congresses have normally been in the nature of forums at which topics such as the actual situation and conditions together with the activities and potential capabilities of the organization were discussed, and at which a number of decisions were taken. These decisions were, however, very rarely actually applied and most often served merely to foment faction and conflict.

In the period 1973-1985, during the New Armenian Terror, congresses under such titles as “The International Armenian Groups” were held in Paris in 1979, Lausanne in 1983 and Sevres in 1985. At these congresses attempts were made to address world public opinion, as well as the various Armenian communities and members of the Armenian terror groups. At the congress held in 1985 under the chairmanship of a priest, James Karnuzian, the text of an “Armenian Constitution” was accepted. The declared aims of the congresses held during this period were “to foster unity and co-operation among Armenians”, “to form a centre for the formulation of political demands and aspirations”, and “to combine the various Armenian terror groups in a single organization”. Priority was given to a massive propaganda and psychological campaign to inform international public opinion of their activities. Attempts were also made to interest Armenians in the work of the various groups and to involve them in terror or other operations. Another aim of these congresses was to ensure harmony and co-operation between the various separate Armenian terror groups. Thus all terror and other activities could be presented as the common policy of the international Armenian community, and the various elements brought together in a united front.

These congresses had a number of characteristics in common:
a) In all of them priority was given to discussions concerning armed struggle. Disagreements between those who supported armed struggle and those who opposed this strategy finally led to splits in the Armenian terror groups. ASALA refused, or was not allowed, to participate in any of the congresses held after the Paris Congress of 1979.

b) It was decided that the texts of all decisions taken at these congresses should be forwarded to the various international bodies and that these decisions should be considered and discussed at various levels in the international forums. Means were also discussed by which this decision could be put into effect.

c) One of the most important topics of discussion was the union of all Armenians in a single organization, but no agreement could ever be reached on how this aim was to be achieved. The text known as the “Constitution” accepted the idea of a preparatory period.

d) The number of participants at these congresses steadily diminished.

e) No effective measures were taken to remove the differences of opinion that were very clearly revealed at these congresses.



The Paris Congress of 1979

The “First international Congress of Armenian Groups” was held in Paris on 3-6 September 1979. ASALA was very strongly represented at this congress and played a very influential role. The congress exerted a very considerable influence on the progressive Armenian groups in France, particularly in persuading them to become involved in terrorist activity. The main aim of this congress was to gather the Armenians of the world around a single idea and a single flag, and to make territorial demands on the basis of a careful evaluation of the political environment.

The most important proposals put forward at this congress were the following:

a. An end should be put to party and sectarian squabbles and a “Central Committee” established.
b. Measures should be taken to prevent the assimilation of Armenians in the diaspora.
e. Military theoreticians and tacticians should be employed in their operations.

The decisions taken were as follows:

a. Extra impetus should be given to the Pan-Armenian movement. In the diaspora the concept of Armenianism should be politicized and importance given to the organization of an international “Armenian Front”.
b. An investigation should be made into the possibility of help for the Armenian cause by Armenians living in the USSR and measures should be taken to facilitate such assistance.
e. Territorial claims should be made directly to Turkey.
d. The Armenian Church should be given a national character.
e. Work should be begun on the foundation of an Armenian bank.
f. Central Bureaus should be established and publication and communication facilities developed.

The Paris Congress resulted in an increase in violence and terror. ASALA was strengthened by the introduction of fresh blood. Military training was increased in a number of centres.



The Lausanne Congress of 1983

The Lausanne Congress had been preceded by a number of very important developments. Terrorist activities had attained very serious dimensions, and world public opinion was becoming aroused in condemnation of Armenian terrorism. Some of thees terrorist activities, which were now taking the form of massacres, were beginning to constitute a matter of deep concern and anxiety, not only for impartial observers but even for Mends and allies of the Armenians and, above all, for the Armenians themselves. The Lausanne Congress met against this background with the aim of uniting Armenian political views and of directing all action towards a common goal. ASALA did not participate in this congress and those in favour of violence found themselves in a minority. The Congress ended with splits and factions appearing in both ASALA and: the Dashnak groups, and with vain attempts by the terrorist teams and groups to form new organizations. Most of them were expelled from the organization, arrested and condemned.

The following were the most important of the proposal put forward and the topics discussed:

a. A constitutional council should be established to decide upon basic politics, to determine and formulate views with regard to territorial claims, and to establish such claims on a sound basis.
b. A national liberation movement should be established on the basis of nationalism and democracy.
e. These congresses should be similar to the International Jewish Congresses and display a strongly democratic, parliamentarian character.

The following decisions were taken:

a. Measures should be taken to ensure that the congresses should possess a democratic, parliamentarian character, and that a “Constitution” should be drawn up.
b. The Constitution should be drawn up by a constitutional council, which should also be responsible for the preparation of a text presenting a synthesis of the various political views held.
c. The work of the council should be published and distributed to the international public.

This congress ended in disagreement and great confusion. The moderates proved dominant but were unable to achieve any notable proved dominant but were unable to achieve any notable results. The conflict continued after the close of the congress, and the factions and splits referred to above began to make their appearance.



The Sèvres Congress of 1985 and the Armenian Constitution

This congress met at Sèvres on 7-13 July 1985 under the title “The III. International Congress of Armenian groups”. Its aim was the discussion and acceptance of the “Armenian Constitution”. This waste lead to work on the establishment of a “Union” representing Armenians throughout the world.

The Armenian terrorist groups did not participate in this congress. The question of Dashnak representation gave rise to protracted disputes. ASALA was not represented at this congress and was exposed to violent criticism.

The following proposals were put forward:

a. The slogan “One Armenianism, one goal, one struggle and one voice” was proposed and accepted.
b. It was proposed that the Congress of Sèvres was to be accepted as valid and the Congress of Lausanne as invalid.
c. The proposal that no support should be given to ASALA was accepted.
d. It was proposed and accepted that the struggle against Turkey should be continued.
e. It was proposed and accepted that support should be given to the struggle being conducted by Greece and the Greek Cypriots against Turkish expansionist policy.
f. It was proposed that the Congress should bear a character similar to that of the “Palestine National Congress in Exile”, and this was accepted on the basis of observation of the required developments.



The Congress decisions

a. The Congress accepted the text of an “Armenian Constitution”.
b. The Congress accepted the application of a many-sided strategy for the achievement of their aims.
aa. It was decided that collaboration should be established between progressive and revolutionary movements in Turkey and the Armenian nationalist movement, as well as between the Armenians and the various other peoples engaged in the struggle against Turkish oppression and exploitation, and that recognition should be given to the inevitably close links between the struggle of the Armenian people and that of other oppressed peoples.
bb. The International Armenian Congress decided that although it was in no way connected with any state or power, it would accept aid and assistance from any country that respected and supported the Armenian cause.
e. It was decided to send a note to the United Nations, the USA, the USSR, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia, the Council of Europe, the unaligned states and all signatories of the Lausanne Agreement bringing to their attention the fact that the Armenians were the only people who had failed to profit from the abolition of colonialism.
d. The Congress, convinced that Turkey should be compelled to admit its involvement in the genocide of 1915 and that such an admission would open the way to the liberation of Armenian territory, decided to disseminate information on this question and to have recourse to the necessary quarters.

The USSR was praised for its recognition of the genocide of 1915 and for the publication of an article on this subject in Pravda in April 1985, while at the same time criticism was leveled at the American administration for having failed to ensure the passage through the US Congress of a genocide bill.



The Armenian Constitution

In his speech introducing the Armenian Constitution, accepted by Third International Armenian Congress, Mr. James Karnuzian declared that “the Armenians had been greatly handicapped by their lack of unity” and that the only means of removing this handicap and ensuring unity was to form “a unified group”. He went on to say that the text known as the “Constitution” conprised all the various views consonant with this aim.

Impartial observers announced that, in the event of this Constitution’s being put into effect, “all groups and organizations engaged in the struggle for the victory of the Armenian cause would be gathered together under the aegis of the Armenian Congress”.

The main alms of the Armenian Congress as reflected in the Armenian Constitution were as follows:

a. To unite the Armenians scattered throughout the world into a single body.
b. To disseminate information throughout the world concerning the work of the Congress.
c. To make use of all political and diplomatic means at their disposal to liberate Armenian territory now under Turkish occupation.
d. To organize the return of the Armenians to their homeland and to make the necessary preparations for this.

In order to realize these aims, the Congress would seek ways of ensuring the participation of other groups, without, however, sacrificing anything of their independence and autonomy. Every group of ethnic Armenians composed of over twenty members should have the right to representation in the Congress in accordance with democratic principles, thus accepting the principle of a wide popular base.

According to the Constitution the work of the Congress centre should be based in Switzerland.

Traditional bodies such as the “Armenian National Council” should be divided into organizations such as the “General Council” and “Executive Council”.



CONCLUSIONS

What is the truth concerning the “Armenian Problem” and the “Armenian Question” that lies behind the renewal of terrorist activity in the years between 1973 and 1985?

What are the lessons to be learned from this terrorist activity, which far surpasses in ruthlessness the work of any of the Armenian terrorist groups of the past?

What light can be shed on future developments by an evaluation of the events of that period?
As a conclusion to this comprehensive study, almost entirely based as it is on Armenian publications or on works deriving from sources sympathetic to the Armenian cause, we believe a satisfactory reply can be given to aft these questions.

1. The propaganda formerly used to exploit the various interests, aims and expectations of the Armenians living within the Ottoman Empire, and at converting these minority groups into a problem for the Ottoman State, is still being propagated under the guise of an “Armenian Cause” in various countries in the world, including the Armenian Republic, which now forms part of the USSR. It is now no longer a question of an “Armenian Problem” but of an “Armenian Cause”, a concept that is now being thrust upon world public opinion, international organizations, and various parliaments and senates. The new Armenian terrorism of 1973-1985 employs weapons, crimes, massacres and attacks as propaganda aimed at enforcing acceptance of the justice of this ”cause”. In other words, all these massacres, crimes and attacks have a single aim-to publicize the “Armenian Cause”, to emphasise its scope and dimensions, and so arouse fear and apprehension regarding the lengths to which this terror could well be taken.
 
2. There are certain lessons to be learned by humanity as a whole, as well as by the Armenians themselves, whose names have become associated with a terrorist activity in which they have been in no way involved, from the new wave of Armenian terrorism of 1973-1985. The use of terror as a means of propaganda and psychological pressure is a question of concern to all states, and it from this point of view that the 1973-1985 era must be evaluated. States founded on principles of law and order find their field of activity restricted or even rendered utterly powerless in the face of a terror that acknowledges no law and regards all means as legitimate. Even more important, some states sympathise with this terrorism and even support it on geopolitical grounds, failing to realize that one day the same weapon may be turned against themselves. From this point of view, the new wave of Armenian terrorism contains a number of very valuable lessons.

From another angle, the apparent differences, conflicts and even divisions betwen the various Armenian terrorist groups are purely superficial. As a means of propaganda for the propagation of the “Armenian cause”, whatever time method of application, range or scope, all these apparently discrete elements complement each other in their work towards the achievement of a common aim. And the expert in the use of psychology in political struggle is presented with clear evidence of terror as one aspect of psychological warfare.

3. Future developments will be determined by the attitudes adopted by states who see in the aceptance or rejection of the “Armenian Cause” the realization of the geopolitical expectations of international organizations, states, parliaments and senates in the field of international relations, and they will increase commensurately in importance.

The acceptance of the “Armenian Cause” in the form in which it is now presented, means the advance acceptance of an attitude that will not be content with sporadic massacres, crimes and attacks, but which will inevitably turn towards the waging of a regular war.

If the “Armenian Cause” is interpreted as being the preservation and development of the Armenian language, religion and culture, this will result in the complete rejection of terrorism, and will liberate the Armenian people from a situation which is causing them great anxiety and apprehension. Otherwise, they will finally become the victims of a steadily increasing anarchy and the incriminations of others.

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- OTTOMAN ARCHIVES YILDIZ COLLECTION THE ARMENIAN QUESTION I -TALORI INCIDENTS
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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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