Armenian national liberation movement
|Armenian national liberation movement|
clockwise: Battle of Arakelots, Armenian volunteers at the Caucasus Campaign, Van Resistance of 1915, Khanasor Expedition
|Armenian irregulars and volunteers (until 1918, 1921)
Armenian regular army (1918-20)
| Ottoman Empire
| Russian Empire (until 1914)
|Commanders and leaders|
||Abdul Hamid II
| Nicholas II
The Armenian national liberation movement (Armenian: Հայ ազգային-ազատագրական շարժում) was the Armenian socio-political and militant movement from the late 1880s to early 1920s to re-establish an Armenian state in the Armenian Highland, controlled at the time by the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire.
The Armenian national movement developed with the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire; however the factors contributing to the emergence made the movement far more similar to that of the Greeks than those of other ethnic groups of the region. Aside from the individual heroes who sacrificed their lives for national liberation, the movement was principally led by three political parties: Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar Party, originally known as the Armenakan) and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), the largest and most influential of the three. The involvement of the European powers in the Armenian Question provided a powerful impetus to the previously suppressed aspiration for national liberation and led to the development of a national liberation ideology and a fundamental transformation in Armenian national identity.
Tanzimât period emerged from the minds of reformist sultans like Mahmud II and Abdülmecid I as well as prominent reformers who were European-educated bureaucrats. Tanzimat included the policy of Ottomanism, which was meant to unite all of the different peoples living in Ottoman territories, "Muslim and non-Muslim, Turkish and Greek, Armenian and Jewish, Kurd and Arab". For this purpose, Islamic law was put aside in favour of secular law. This policy officially began with the Imperial Rescript of the Rose Chamber of 1839, declaring equality before the law for both Muslim and non-Muslim Ottomans.
Continuation of the Tanzimat reforms, the Armenian National Constitution defined the condition of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, but also it had regulations defining the authority of the Patriarch. The constitution of the Armenian National Assembly was seen as a milestone by progressive Armenians. Besides these improvements a second development was the introduction by Protestant missionaries of elementary education, colleges and other institutions of learning. Communications improved with the starting of Armenian newspapers. Books about Armenian history enabled a comparison of the past with current conditions and expanded readers' horizons. This was part of an evolution in Armenian political consciousness from purely cultural romanticism to a programme for action.
National awakening 
During the late 19th century, along with the other national movements, a nascent Armenian intelligentsia promoted the use of new concepts in society with a particularly Armenian import. These concepts were developed by an intelligentsia which had studied in Western Europe under the influence of the legacy of the French Revolution of 1789. They were highly educated (doctors, academics, etc.) who espoused a democratic-liberal ideology and the concept of the rights of man. The second wave come with the emergence of Russian revolutionary thought. At the end of 19th century a movement was based on a socialist ideology, specifically in its Marxist variant, see Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
There was a major problem, in that materialism and class struggle did not directly apply to the realities (Socioeconomics) of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as much as to those in the Russian Armenia.
Nonpartisan conflicts, 1862 
The Armenians of Zeitun had historically enjoyed a period of high autonomy in the Ottoman Empire until the nineteenth century. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the central government decided to bring this region of the empire under tighter control. This strategy ultimately proved ineffective and in the summer of 1862 the Ottomans sent a military contingent of 12,000 men to Zeitun to reassert government control. The force, however, was held at bay by the Armenians and, through French mediation, the first Zeitun resistance was brought to a close.
Organizing into Political parties, 1880s 
In 1885, the Armenakan was established in Van by Mëkërtich Portukalian, who later went into exile in Marseilles but kept in touch with local leaders, and published a journal of political and social enlightenment titled L'Armenie. The Armenians of Van continued to develop the political principles behind Armenian nationalism, in secret. The party's aim soon become to 'win for the Armenians the right to rule themselves, through revolution'. Their view on how to liberate Armenia from the Ottoman Empire was that it should be through the press, national awakening and unarmed resistance.
In 1885, the Armenian Patriotic Society of Europe was established in Chesilton Road, Fulham, with its headquarters there. Its goal was that the Armenian Diaspora should help those in their native land, both financially and raise Armenian political consciousness about its subject condition.
In 1887, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (Hentchak, was the first Socialist party in the Ottoman Empire and in Persia by Avetis Nazarbekian, Mariam Vardanian, Gevorg Gharadjian, Ruben Khan-Azat, Christopher Ohanian, Gabriel Kafian and Manuel Manuelian, a group of college students who met in Geneva, Switzerland, with the goal to gain Armenia's independence from the Ottoman Empire. Hunchak means "Bell" in English, and was taken by party members to represent "awakening, enlightenment, and freedom."
In 1889 the Young Armenia Society was founded by Kristapor Mikayelian in Tbilisi. The Young Armenia Society organised Fedayee campaigns into Ottoman territory. The Russian Empire attacked Ottoman Armenia in Gugunian Expedition. Its aims were the carrying out reprisals against Kurds believed to be guilty of persecuting Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The society believed that the Russians would assist in the creation of an autonomous Armenian province under Russian rule.
In 1890 the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) was founded in Tiflis. Its members armed themselves into fedayee groups to defend Armenian villages from widespread oppression, attacks and persecution of the Armenians, its initial aim was to guarantee reforms in the Armenian provinces and to gain eventual autonomy, it being seen as the only solution to save the people from Ottoman oppression and massacres.
Significant European and American movements began with the Armenian diaspora in France and in the U.S. as early as in the 1890s. The previous migrations were minor or and had not been statistically significant. Various political parties and benevolent unions, such as branches for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF or Dashnaktsutiun), the Social-Democrat Henchagian party (Hunchak), and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) which was initially founded in Constantinople, were established wherever there was a considerable number of Armenians.
Ottoman Empire 
Abdul Hamid II, 1890-1908 
The Kum Kapu demonstration occurred in the Kumkapı district of Constantinople on July 27, 1890. The cause of the demonstrations were "..to awaken the maltreated Armenians and to make the Sublime Porte fully aware of the miseries of the Armenians." The Hunchaks had came to a conclusion that the demonstrations at Kum Kapu were unsuccessful. Similar demonstration on a lesser scale followed throughout most of the 1890s.
The 1896 Ottoman Bank Takeover was the seizing of the Ottoman Bank in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, on 26 August 1896, by members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnak Party). In an effort to raise further awareness and action by the major European powers, 28 armed men and women led primarily by Papken Siuni and Armen Karo took over the bank which largely employed European personnel from Great Britain and France. Stirred largely due to the inaction of the European powers in regards to pogroms and massacres instigated by the Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation members saw its seizure as their best attempt to bring full attention to the massacres.
Van/Bitlis Vilayets (Lake Van Region) 
Bashkale Resistance was the bloody encounter of three revolutionaries of Armenakan on May 1889. Bashkale was a town in the Van Province. The comrades Karapet Koulaksizian, Hovhannes Agripasian, and Vardan Goloshian were stopped and demanded that they disarm. On them were two documents addressed to Koulaksizian, one from Avetis Patiguian of London and the other from Mëkërtich Portukalian, in Marseille. Ottoman's believed that the men were members of a large revolutionary apparatus and the discussion was reflected on newspapers, (Eastern Express, Oriental Advertiser, Saadet, and Tarik) and the responses were on the Armenian papers. In some Armenian circles, this event was considered as a martyrdom and brought other armed conflicts.
The Defense of Van was the Armenian population in Van defense against the Ottoman Empire in June, 1896.
The Khanasor Expedition (Armenian: Խանասորի Արշաւանքը) was the Armenian militia's response on July 25, 1897 to the Defense of Van, where Mazrik tribe ambushed a squad of Armenian defenders and mercilessly slaughtered them.
The Battle of Holy Apostles Monastery was an armed conflict of the Armenian militia in Holy Apostles Monastery near Mush, in November 1901. Andranik Ozanian's intentions were to attract the attention of the foreign consuls at Mush to the plight of the Armenian peasants and to provide a glimmer of hope for the oppressed Armenians of the eastern provinces.
Diyarbekir/Aleppo Vilayets 
The Zeitun Rebellion took place in 1895, during the Hamidian massacres.
The Sassoun Uprising was the resistance of the Armenian militia in the Sassoun region. Mourat together with his companion, Sepouh, had fought at Sasoun, in 1904, and had taken part in the Armenian and Tartar clashes of 1905 and 1906 in the Caucasus.
Second Constitutional Era, 1908-1914 
The Armenians supported the Young Turk Revolution, as it was just natural that these concepts (tendencies, attitudes and feelings) were present in varying proportions among Armenians with the turn of 20th century ARF, in the early 20th century was socialists, and marxist which can be seen from the party's first program. After the revolution, the Ottoman Empire in the second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire) was struggling to keep its territories and promoting the Ottomanism among its citizens. During the same time the Armenian Revolutionary Federation was moving out of this context and developing, what was just a normal extension of its national freedom concept, the concept of the "Independent Armenian State". With this national transformation Armenian Revolutionary Federation's activities become a national cause.
Russian Empire 
Edict on Armenian church property 1903-1904 
The tsar's Russification programme reached its peak with the decree of June 12, 1903 confiscating the property of the Armenian Church. Mkrtich Khrimian (Catholicos of Armenia) revolted against the tsar. When the tsar refused to back down the Armenians turned to the Dashnaks. The Armenian clergy had previously been very wary of the Dashnaks, condemning their socialism as anti-clerical. However, ARF acquired significant support and sympathy in Russian administration. Mainly because of the ARF's attitude to the Ottoman Empire, the party enjoyed the support of the central Russian administration, as tsarist and ARF foreign policy had the same alignment until 1903. The edict on Armenian church property was faced by strong ARF opposition, because it perceived a tsarist threat to Armenian national existence. In 1904, the Dashnak congress specifically extended their programme to support the rights of Armenians in the Russian Empire as well as Ottoman Turkey.
As a result, the ARF leadership decided to actively defend Armenian churches. The ARF formed a Central Committee for Self-Defence in the Caucasus and organised a series of protests. At Gandzak the Russian army responded by firing into the crowd, killing ten, and further demonstrations were met with more bloodshed. The Dashnaks and Hunchaks began a campaign of assassination against tsarist officials in Transcaucasia and they succeeded in wounding Prince Golitsin. The events convinced Tsar Nicholas that he must reverse his policies. He replaced Golitsin with the Armenophile governor Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov and returned the property of the Armenian Church. Gradually order was restored and the Armenian bourgeoisie once more began to distance itself from the revolutionary nationalists.
Armenian-Azeri massacres 1904-1905 
Unrest in Transcaucasia, which also included major strikes, reached a climax with the widespread uprisings throughout the Russian Empire known as the 1905 Revolution. 1905 saw a wave of mutinies, strikes and peasant uprisings across imperial Russia and events in Transcaucasia were particularly violent. In Baku, the centre of the Russian oil industry, class tensions mixed with ethnic rivalries. The city was almost wholly composed of Azeris and Armenians, but the Armenian middle-class tended to have a greater share in the ownership of the oil companies and Armenian workers generally had better salaries and working conditions than the Azeris. In December 1904, after a major strike was declared in Baku, the two communities began fighting each other on the streets and the violence spread to the countryside.
Tribune of People, 1912 
In January 1912, a total of 159 Armenians were charged with membership of an anti-"Revolutionary" organisation. During the revolution Armenian revolutionaries were split into "Old Dashnaks", allied with the Kadets and "Young Dashnaks" aligned with the SRs. To determine the position of Armenians all forms of Armenian national movement put into trial. The entire Armenian intelligentsia, including writers, physicians, lawyers, bankers, and even merchants" on trial. When the tribune finished its work, 64 charges were dropped and the rest were either imprisoned or exiled for varying periods
World War I 1914-1918 
Initial engagements 
The Russian Armenian Volunteer Corps was a military fighting unit within the Imperial Russian Army. Composed of several groups at battalion strength, its ranks were exclusively made up of Armenians from the Russian Empire, though there were also a number of Armenian from the Ottoman Empire. In August 1914, following Germany's declaration of war against Russia, Count Illarion Vorontsov-Dashkov, the Russian viceroy of the Caucasus, approached Armenian leaders in the Tiflis to broach the idea of a formation of a separate fighting corps. His offer was received warmly and within a few weeks Armenian volunteers began to enlist. Responsibility for its formation was given to a special committee created by the Armenian National Council, which coordinated its activities from Tiflis, Yerevan and Alexandrapol.
In November 1914, Drastamat Kanayan had the second battalion of the Armenian volunteers. At the Bergmann Offensive, the second battalion of the Armenian volunteers engaged in battle for the first time, near Bayazid. In the course of a bloody combat which lasted twenty-four hours, commander of the battalion, was seriously wounded. From that day to March of the following year, Drastamat Kanayan remained in critical condition.
The Battle of Sarikamish took place from December 22, 1914 to January 17, 1915 as part of the Caucasus Campaign. The Ottomans employed a strategy which demanded that their troops be highly mobile and to arrive at specified objectives at precise times. Along the Kars Oblast, the 3rd battalion commanded by Hamazasp (Srvandztian) and 4th battalion by Keri (Arshak Gavafian) operated on the front facing Erzurum between Sarıkamış and Oltu. 4th battalion of the Armenian volunteers engaged at Barduz Pass. The Ottoman army suffered a delay of 24 hours in the Barduz Pass, and 4th battalion of the Armenian volunteers lost 600 troops in a battle there.
The first year of the War 
Drastamat Kanayan though remained in critical condition, his battalion led into eleven battles in the neighborhood of Alashkert, Toutakh, and Malashkert, until Drastamat Kanayan recovered and returned to resume the command.
The Red Sunday the leaders of the Armenian community were arrested and moved to two holding centers near Ankara upon the order of the Minister of the Interior Mehmed Talaat Bey of April 24, 1915. Mehmed Talaat Bey gave the detention order on April 24, 1915, which commenced at 8 p.m. by Chief of Police of Constantinople Bedri Bey.
On May 6, 1915 Andranik was the commanding officer of the first Armenian volunteer detachment (about 1,200 soldiers), which helped lift the Siege of Van.  Theodore G. Chernozubov for the successes of Andranik in Ashnaka, Vrush-Khoran, Khanika, Kotur, Saray, Molla-Hasan, Belenjik and Garateli stated significantly associated with the fighting of the 1st Armenian volunteers, headed by Andranik. Chernozubov praised Andranik as a brave and experienced chief, who well understood the combat situation, described him as always at the head of militia, enjoying great prestige among the volunteers. 
The biggest achievement is the Armenian governing of the Administration for Western Armenia with the Aram Manukian and keeping the Ottomans out with the Armenian volunteer units within the Russian Caucasus Army, as well as Armenian militia.
On June 15, 1915, Hunchakian leaders, The Twenty Martyrs after spending two years in terrible conditions in Ottoman prisons, and undergoing lengthy mock trials, twenty prominent figures - Paramaz, Dr. Benne, Aram Ach'ekbashian, Vanig and others were sentenced to death by hanging. All twenty men were hanged in the central square of Constantinople, known as Sultan Bayazid Square. Paramaz's last words before his hanging were:
"You can only hang our bodies, but not our ideology. ...You will see tomorrow on the Eastern horizon a Socialist Armenia."—Paramaz
The second year of the War 
French-Armenian Agreement (1916) October 27, 1916, was the political and military accord regarding the support of the Armenian Resistance on the side of the allies in World War I. The aim of creating the Legion was to allow Armenians' contribution to the liberation of Cilicia region in Ottoman Empire and help them to realize their national aspirations of creating a state in that region.
The third year of the War 
The February Revolution of 1917 caused chaos among Russian soldiers in the Caucasus Front and by the end of that year most Russian soldiers left the front and returned to their homes. In July 1917 six Armenian regiments were created in the Caucasus Front with support of Armenian organizations in Petrograd and Tiflis. As of October 1917 two Armenian divisions were already created, with Tovmas Nazarbekian at their head. As of early 1918 only few thousand Armenian volunteers under the command of two hundred officers opposed the Turkish offenses.
On December 5, 1917, the armistice of Erzincan was signed between the Russians and Ottomans, ending armed conflicts between the two states. After the Bolshevik seizure of power, a multinational congress of Transcaucasian representatives met to create a provisional regional executive body known as Transcaucasian Seim.
Last year of the War 
In 1918, the Russian authorities made Andranik a Major General and decorated him six times for gallantry, the source stated as general Antranik as a command of the Armenian and Russian forces against those of the Turks; was in 59 engagements, several horses shot under him but kept fighting after the czar's army collapsed, 
The roots of the first national republic was achieved by the Armenians under the Russian control which devised a national congress at October 1917. The convention in Tiflis was concluded in September 1917 with delegates from former Romanov realm (203), which 103 belonged to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. On March 3, 1918, the Russians followed the armistice of Erzincan with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and left the war. It ceded territory From March 14 to April 1918, when a conference was held between the Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Seim. When the first Republic of Armenia (Democratic Republic of Armenia) was proclaimed in 1918, the ARF became the ruling party.
Between March and April 1918 Andranik was the governor of the Administration for Western Armenia. 
The original plan for the Armenian army was to consist of Tovmas Nazarbekian's 60,000 soldiers alongside with Andranik Pasha's 30,000 fedayees. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire had taken Alexandropol and were intent on eliminating the center of Armenian resistance based in Yerevan. After the formation of the Democratic Republic of Armenia in May 1918 Andranik fought alongside volunteer units to combat the Ottoman army. The Armenians were able to stave off total defeat and delivered crushing blows to the Turkish army in the battles of Sardarapat, Karakilisa and Abaran. The Democratic Republic of Armenia had to sign the Treaty of Batum, which was signed in Batum on June 4, 1918. It was the ADR's first treaty.
After the Ottoman Empire took vast swathes of territory and imposed harsh conditions, the new republic was left with 10,000 square kilometers. Andranik's military leadership was instrumental in allowing the Armenian population of Van to escape the Ottoman Army and flee to Eastern Armenia.
By July inter ethnic warfare had started in Zangezur. Armenian couriers dispatched to Yerevan pleaded for officers and materiel. The Republic couldn't support irregular forces fighting in the south. At the critical moment General Andranik arrived in Zangezur with an irregular division estimated with about 3 to 5 thousand men and 40,000 refugees and the occupied provinces of Russian Armenia. As the commander of Armenian forces in Nakhichivan Autonomous Republic, Andranik has declared that his army is determined to continue the war against Ottoman Empire. His activities were concentrated at the link between the Ottoman Empire and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic at Karabakh, Nakhchivan and Zangezur.
Andranik tried several times to seize Shusha, the most important city of Karabakh at the time. Just before the Armistice of Mudros was signed, Andranik was on the way from Zangezur to Shusha, to control the main city of Karabakh. In January 1919 Armenian troops advancing, the British general William M. Thomson ordered Andranik back to Zangezur, and gave him assurances that a favorable treaty would be reached at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.
On July 26, 1918 the Centrocaspian Dictatorship was a short-lived anti-Soviet client state proclaimed in Baku, forged by the Mensheviks and the Armenian Dashnaks, this unrecognized state replaced the Bolshevik Baku Commune in a bloodless coup d'état.
The Baku forces mainly commanded by Colonel Avetisov. Under his command were about 6,000 Centrocaspian Dictatorship troops of the Baku Army. The vast majority of the troops in this force were Armenians, though there were some Russians among them. Their artillery comprised some 40 field guns. Most of the Baku Soviet troops and practically all their officers were Armenians of Dashnak leanings, and often outright Dashnaks. One of the Red Army commanders was the notorious Amazasp, who had fought as a guerrilla leader against the Turks, and for whom any Muslim was an enemy simply because he was a Muslim. Centrocaspian Dictatorship fell on September 15, 1918, when the Ottoman-Azerbaijani forces took control of Baku.
Turkish War of Independence 1919 – 1922 
Republic of Armenia 
The Turkish Revolutionaries saw the partitioning of Anatolia to be unacceptable and revolted against the allies. Also due to some Turks inside DRA being mistreated and oppressed by Armenians brought more reason to start a military offensive. On September 20, 1920, the Turkish General Kazım Karabekir invaded the region of Sarikamish. In response, Armenia declared war on Turkey on September 24 and the Turkish–Armenian War began. In the regions of Oltu, Sarikamish, Kars, Alexandropol (Gyumri) Armenian forces clashed with those of Karabekir’s XV Corps. Mustafa Kemal Pasha had sent several delegations to Moscow in search of an alliance, where he had found a receptive response by the Soviet government, which started sending gold and weapons to the Turkish revolutionaries. This proved disastrous for the Armenians.
Armenia gave way to communist power in late 1920. In November 1920, the Turkish revolutionaries captured Alexandropol and were poised to move in on the capital. A cease fire was concluded on November 18. Negotiations were then carried out between Karabekir and a peace delegation led by Alexander Khatisian in Alexandropol; although Karabekir’s terms were extremely harsh the Armenian delegation had little recourse but to agree to them. The Treaty of Alexandropol was thus signed on December 2/3, 1920.
French Armenian Legion/Cilicia 
In January of 1920, Turkish National Movement advanced his troops into Marash where the Battle of Marash ensued against the French Armenian Legion. The battle resulted in a Turkish victory alongside the massacres of 5,000 – 12,000 Armenians spelling the end of the remaining Armenian population in the region.
Interwar period 
Sovietization of Republic of Armenia, February 1921 
However, despite ARF's tight grip on power Drastamat Kanayan (Ministry of Defense) and Aram Manukian (Ministry of Interior), the ARF was unable to stop the impending Communist invasion of "Democratic Republic of Armenia" from the north, which culminated with a Soviet takeover in 1920, although there was also a large movement of Armenian communists who aided the Soviet control. The 11th Red Army began its virtually unopposed advance into Armenia on November 29, 1920. The actual transfer of power took place on December 2 in Yerevan. The Armenian leadership approved an ultimatum, presented to it by the Soviet plenipotentiary Boris Legran. Armenia decided to join the Soviet sphere. The ARF was banned, its leaders exiled and many of its members dispersed to other parts of the world.
Republic of Mountainous Armenia, 1922 
On 18 February 1921, the Dashnaks led an anti-Soviet rebellion in Yerevan and seized power. The ARF controlled Yerevan and the surrounding regions for almost 42 days before being defeated by the numerically superior Red Army troops later in April 1921. The leaders of the rebellion then retreated into the Syunik region. On 26 April 1921, the 2nd Pan-Zangezurian congress, held in Tatev, announced the independence of the self-governing regions of Daralakyaz (Vayots Dzor), Zangezur, and Mountainous Artsakh, under the name of the Republic of Mountainous Armenia and later on 1 June 1921, it was renamed the Republic of Armenia.
After months of fierce battles with the Red Army, the Republic of Mountainous Armenia capitulated in July 1921 following Soviet Russia's promises to keep the mountainous region as a part of Soviet Armenia. After losing the battle, Garegin Nzhdeh, his soldiers, and many prominent Armenian intellectuals, including leaders of the first Independent Republic of Armenia, crossed the border into neighbouring Persian city of Tabriz
Operation Nemesis 
Operation Nemesis was the Armenian Revolutionary Federation's code-name for a covert operation in early 1920s to assassinate the Turkish planners of the Armenian Genocide. Those involved with the planning and prosecution of the operation (including Shahan Natalie and Soghomon Tehlirian) were survivors of genocidal massacres. The Operation, between 1920–1922, assassinated many significant political and military figures of the Ottoman Empire, the Internal Affairs Minister of Azerbaijan and some Armenians who were working against the Armenian cause.
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- Erickson, Edward J. (2001). Ordered to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-31516-9.
- Méndez, Rafael Méndez (1926). Four Years beneath the Crescent. London: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 1-903656-19-2.
See also