Armenian Committees

 

Hinchak

The Hinchak (Ring of Bell) Committee was established in 1886 in Switzerland by Avedis Nazarbelg, a Caucasian Armenian and a citizen of Russia, his wife Maro and other Caucasian students. In order to disseminate the idea of the committee, a newspaper called Hinchak was published. The heads and most of the members of this committee were Russian Armenians. This committee chose Eastern Anatolia as the area of operation. After some period of time, the headquarters of the committee was moved from Switzerland to London.

The program of the Hinchak Committee was Socialist, Marxist and Centralist. The principles of Karl Marx were adopted as fundamental. Although the members of this committee were called themselves as social democrats their political program totally had the nature of the communist manifesto. The Committee had its headquarters primarily in Istanbul and opened branches in some states of the Ottoman country. In this way, it started its organised activities. The main political objective of this committee was to save the Armenians in Turkey from the Turks, Iranian Armenians from the Iranians and Russian Armenians from the Russians and after that, getting rid of the capitalists in these countries.

PROGRAM

"Labourers and productive class comprise great majority of humanity. This class shall be free from the exploitation of the wealthy, sovereign minority, which has the capital, thereby having all the power and means of production, land, plants, mines and means of transportation. The independence of the productive class means the freedom of humanity as a whole, general economic prosperity.

In order to attain this objective and put this into practice actually, the productive classes in all civilised countries ought to organise in ways peculiar to themselves and materialise the communist revolution in all countries through activating the general political opportunities under their rule. Therefore, the other classes will disappear and the productive class will establish a socialist order. In this establishment, people will enact their own laws and show their power.

 

Now, the Armenians are under the rule of the classes which are dependent on autocratic regimes. Their administration, taxation and financial systems are destructive for them. One hand capitalist production methods are applied in these countries and on the other hand the old economic and management methods are being annihilated continuously."

Considering all these conditions, the provision of a general and comprising socialist rule for the Armenian social democrats and all the Armenians was accepted as a long-term objective and because of that reason all the tendencies and struggles required a short-term objective. This short-term objective was the basis for the social democrat Armenian Revolutionary Hinchak Party. These objectives were as follows:

a. To revolt

b. To annihilate the sovereign classes of the autocratic regimes

c. To save the Armenians from the slavery

d. To support the Armenians for their intervention to the political affairs

e. To remove the obstacles that affect economic and cultural developments

f. To prepare an environment where the working class can voice its wishes and tendencies openly

g. To rearrange the heavy working conditions

h. To provide information for the class so that they can organise themselves as a political unit peculiar to them

i. To facilitate the activities of the people and assist them to attain the long-term objectives In accordance with this idea, the short-term objective of the Hinchak Committee was to struggle for the removal of autocratic regimes and its classes; and to replace them with constitutional regimes. Its main conditions were as follows:

a. For the representation of the people, a legislative assembly ought to be established through elections, in which all the sections can vote directly. This assembly ought to have the right to examine decide on all the political and economic affairs of the country.

b. Broad autonomy ought to be granted to the states

c. Complete freedom ought to be provided for the people

d. People ought to be able to select the government officials, all the people in public services security officials and the officials in the fields of education and justice

e. Without taking nationality and class differences into consideration, all major citizens ought to have the capacity to be elected both for states and autonomous administrations

f. All the citizens ought to be equal in the presence of law without taking nationality and religious differences into account

g. Complete freedom ought to be granted to press, expression, conscience, organisation, establishment of association and election procedures

h. All the citizens themselves and their homes ought to be protected against attacks

i. The churches ought to be separated from the government; all the religious organisations ought to survive with the help of the people themselves, who are frequenting these organisations

j. In peace, all the people ought to do its military service in militia forces

k. Secular and compulsory education system ought to be implemented; the government ought to aid poor people

Since the political rights mentioned above concern the improvement of the economic situation of the people, it is necessary to fulfil the conditions below:

a. The present tax system ought to be annulled and it ought to be replaced by a tax system, which is advanced and is in accordance with the power and the payment capacity of the people.

b. Indirect taxes ought to be abolished totally

c. The peasants ought exempt from all kinds of debts

d. Agricultural machines ought to be provided with the help of the people and the government. People should be thought how to use these machines and these ought to be delivered to the people

e. Agricultural corporations among the people ought to be established. The goals of these corporation ought to be the sale of the agricultural products, purchasing and management of some products like seeds, cereals etc.

f. All kind of transportation and contact means ought to be supplied

g. In order to hinder the exploitation of the working people, the government ought to procure help in this respect and ought to pass laws to protect them

The Turkish Armenians are the majority of the Armenians and the regions where they live, are the largest territories of our country. Thanks to the 61st article of the Berlin Agreement and the other international conditions, the struggle of most Armenians became a matter of rights and is recognised by the big European countries.

The political, economic and financial disorders, the decrease, the exhaustion, the interior chaos and the disturbances in the Ottoman Empire made the collapse of the Ottoman government necessary and definite. The other European states influenced this situation as well. Some parts of the Ottoman territories in Europe were separated in a systematic way and was owned by other states. Because of this reason, the procurement of the points below became a historical necessity and requirement:

a. The Armenian committee members shall exert their efforts for the defence and finalisation of the Armenian struggle in accordance with the short-term objective.

b. In this context, the struggle area of the revolution shall be the region of Armenians, who are living in Turkey.

c. Since the future of the Armenians shall necessitate the separation from the Ottoman State, the primary condition of short-term objective is the Armenian independence.

The solutions to attain the short-term objective is to mess up and create chaos in the Armenian regions in Turkey by revolution namely by force; and to declare war against the Turkish government with a general revolt. The means of these activities are as follows:

a. To make propaganda through the press, books and speeches among the people, especially the workers, to disseminate the revolution idea of the Hinchak Party, to establish some revolutionary organisations among the people and to rebel

b. To punish Turkish autocrats, detectives, informers, traitors; to use terrorism as the means for the defence of the revolutionary organisations and as a shiled against the infamous and those, who oppress the people.

c. To posses an active armed force for the purpose of protecting the people against the attacks of the government soldiers or tribes, to form raider troops. These troops shall play a leading role in a general revolution in the future.

d. A general revolutionary organisation, which will comprise many regular interconnected groups ought to be established. This organisation will work for the common goal with unity and will apply same tactics given and directed from a single centre.

e. To prepare the incidents for the implementation of an organised rebellion

f. The most appropriate instant for the success of a general revolt is the time when a country has declared war against Turkey.

g. To make the other minorities, which shared same destiny with the Armenians, side with us in order to make war against the Turkish Government, our joint enemy. The most important objective of the Hinchak Committee is to be free of the slavery of the Ottoman State and to establish a federation as in Switzerland.

The Hinchak Committee worked according to a political program and made the Marxism propaganda, which was very attractive especially for the working class. The young people, religious leaders, adventurers and the unemployed were very eager to be a member of the committee and work with us to create chaos and revolt. The Committee executives wanted to create an Armenian Proletariat by working on the class concept. Within the context of the living standards in Turkey, these activities of the Committee could not go beyond the propaganda of socialism. A lot of people from many foreign countries especially Russia and who were familiar with these matters participated in many of the revolts organised by the Hinchak Committee.

The start of the Armenian activities caused many tragic and bloody incidents, which could not be compensated for. For the foundation of the organizations of the Hinchak Committee, ªimavonfrom Tblisi, S. Danielyan, Russian citizen Rupen Hanazat and H. Megavoryan came from Geneva, Iran, Trabzon and Batum respectively. After very long discussions, the Istanbul Hinchak Committee Center was established. The other revolutionary organisations, which were established before 1890 in Istanbul, joined it as well.

As we can see, the destiny of the Armenians in Turkey was left to the hands of many Russian Armenians. In the way, those, who did not enter the committee and who did not help financially were put under pressure or killed. The organisations also extended to many states in Anatolia in a rapidly.

ACTIVITIES

The rules and regulations, and the program of the Hinchak Association were published in 1909, in Istanbul. These rules and regulations were delivered to the Ministry of Interior in accordance with the law concerning the associations; and obtained the certificate no. 90, of February 8, 1909, of the Governor of Istanbul. The rules and regulations were composed of 5 sections.

Concerning the activities of the Armenian Hinchak Committee, it was written as follows in the decision books of the years 1910,1911,1912 and 1913:

a. To work for supply of arms, ammunition and explosives

b. Military Training of the arms (by Marufyan, Yavruyan, Candan)

c. To speed up propaganda

d. To establish contact with the Tashnak Committee

e. To establish contact with the unionists

f. Formation and the management of guerrillas in Van (These guerrillas are; Orsfan, Cang, Goçnak,Juraçak, Pencak, Badami, Tejohenk, Maro and Paros)

On 24 July 1914, Hinchak Committee held its Third Congress in Turkey. This congress was opened under the chairmanship of Cangülyan and under the Secretaryship of Tancutyan with 28 delegates from 51 divisions and these decisions were adopted:

"Taking the serious responsibility, that is required by our activities and objectives and the danger emanating from them into account, we have to avoid adventures and irresponsible behaviour in order to prove, that we are civilised people. The balanced influences and means, which are planned meticulously, are the only solutions to achieve our goals and our operations"

Upon this, the Hinchak committee members started to leave Turkey in 1896. Disagreement occurred among the members of this committee and they were divided into two sections. Some of them were called the original Hinchaks (the supporters of Nazarbeg) and the others were called Reformed Hinchaks (Veragazmiyal Hinchak). A man, called Arpiyaryan started to lead this second group.

Both committees acted in accordance with the opinions and attitude of the directors, not according to their principles and program. They gave top priority to their personal interests and they defended this point of view. This disagreement among them turned into street fights and some of them were beaten and some were killed.

The Armenian people, who understood that Hinchak members were Marxist, refused the views of the members of bands. The struggles increased in 1902 and many members of the committees from both sides were killed in streets fights in Britain, Russia, Egypt, Bulgaria, the Caucasus and Iran. Although some small guerrillas were renamed as Hinchaks after the Revolt in Van, they were deprived as sufficient power. Some of the Hinchak leaders understood the disguised goal of the Russians and they derailed the way that they pursued and this played a major role in the dissolution of the Hinchak Committee.

REFERENCE: Sakarya, Emg. Tümg. Ihsan, Belgelerle Ermeni Sorunu, Genelkurmay Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etüt Baskanligi Askeri Tarih Yayinlari, Genelkurmay Basimevi, Ankara, 1984, 2. Edition, pp. 76-87

The Tashnak Terrorist Organization

The "Armenian Revolutionary Federation" or "Tashnak Organization" is also known as the "Tashnak Party." In fact, after the communist takeover of the Armenian Republic, the Tashnak 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 terrorist 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 highest 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 established in places where there is a sizeable 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 there are local organizations and their organs. These have different names which usually refer to various "Armenian Themes" The most important ones are: 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 Tashnak terrorist 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 Sévres Treaty and the enforcement of payment of compensation by Turkey in return for the crimes said to have been committed against the Armenians. Tashnak publications express to this objective in the following 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 Tashnaks are summarised as the recognition of the right of the Armenians to live in their own lands and to govern themselves. More commonly, the final aims of the Tashnaks can be summarised as "Four T Plan": a) propaganda b) the recognition of the Armenian claim that genocide was committed, c) the payment of a compensation by Turkey, d) resettlement in the Armenian homelands.

3. Strategies and Policies

Although the Tashnakshave 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 Tashnaks 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 Tashnaks who decided upon and planned the assassinations and bomb assaults carried out by this group.

These activities suffice to show that the Tashnak organization never abandoned the terrorist tendencies it possessed at its inception. Nonetheless, there is a significant difference between the strategies employed by the Tashnaksand those by ASALA. ASALA makes no distinction between the Turks and other nationalities, all of whom can figure indiscriminately as their targets, whereas the Tashnak 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 Tashnaksand ASALA may be explained by observing the historical development of the two organizations. As we have seen, the Tashnakstook a pro-Western stance in the 19th Century and the first two decades of the 20th Century and aimed at influencing public opinion in the West, whereas the Hinchaks 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 Tashnaksfinds 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 Tashnakhistorian Varandjian described the characteristics of the Tashnakterrorist 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

On December 27, 1981 the following resolutions were taken in the twenty-second TashnakCongress 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.

c) 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.

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

a) New campaigns must be launched to publicise 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 Congresses are of interest in facilitating the identification of the themes that were to be used as means of propaganda by the Tashnak terrorist organization.

5. Support and Connections

The Tashnakterrorist organization derived its support largely from the United States and Europe. It operated on the basic 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

Up to the 1970's the "liberation and independence of Soviet Armenia" formed the basis of the policies determined and implemented by the Tashnakterrorist organization. For this reason, the Tashnaksgave 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 Tashnaksuicide-killer. The reason given was the Archbishop's approval of the situation in Soviet Armenia.

After the 1970's, the break-up, 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 Tashnak terrorist movements led to significant changes in the Tashnak 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 Tashnaks, were put into action as a result of the policy changes mentioned above. The Aztag Shapatoriag, the propaganda organ of the Tashnak sand 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."

Despite all the propaganda efforts by the Tashnak terrorist organization, the Lisbon operation was seen as a complete failure. The attempts to present 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 Tashnak murderers, proved a great setback to Tashnak policies. The Tashnaks lost the support of American-born Armenians. According to the Armenian Reporter, the Tashnak Party had been taken over by Lebanese Armenians from abroad, and was powerless in the face of a large 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 Tashnak Party. Two important external factors helped to create this situation within the Tashnakterrorist organization. The first was the revelation that the Tashnak 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 Tashnak leaders as "parasites who were sucking the blood of Armenians dry." As a matter of fact, these developments within the Tashnak terrorist organization were not new. Whenever such conflicts and divisions arose in the past, the Tashnaks always re-emerged sometime later. In the World Armenian Congresses, the Tashnaks have always been, and will continue to be, a force to reckon with. As for the policy changes, they may be construed as being to temporary conflicts in leaderships.

7. The Media

Within the Armenian terrorist organizations, the Tashnak 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 policy through 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 Tashnaks with special support in this area. Among the most important Tashnak publications were Hairenik and Asbarez, both published in Armenian in the United States, together with the Armenian Weekly, which was published in English.

The Tashnaks 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