• ARMENIAN ISSUE : The truth about Tashnaksutyun (I)
  • Yayın Tarihi : 11 Mayıs 2016 Çarşamba
  • Kategori : ERMENİ SORUNU


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The truth about Dashnaksutyun (I)

While more pressure caused by the so-called genocide allegations depresses Turkey every day, the historical facts reveal over and over again that these claims are nothing more than international lies. Even the Armenian sources substantiate how the Western imperialist powers and Tsarist Russia manipulated the Armenian issue in order to split and share Turkey. The Armenian sources prove that the Armenian gangs were used as a battering-ram at the Caucasian front while Turkish Armenians were assigned with the task of stirring up turmoil to facilitate the occupation and that Turkey, as a justified response to that, waged a just war against the Armenians.

In order to disclose the reality about the genocide lie, we will, basing on the sources of Dashnak and Soviet Armenia, try to unveil in this article the truth about Dashnaksutyun, being one of the most critical components of the issue. No documents shall be referred to in the article unless they are duly approved by the authorized officials of Dashnak and Soviet Armenia. The documents and publications we obtained through our research studies in the Russian state archives and libraries will be classified under the following titles:

1. Dashnaks exploited by the Tsarist armies as a battering-ram
2. Dashnaks as an instrument of Western imperialism
3. Dashnaks as the perpetrators of the extermination of the Muslims
4. The looting policy of Dashnaks
5. Armenian people under Dashnak torture
6. Turkey’s justified war
7. Dashnaks and the Imperialist Powers to be blamed for the tragedies.


Under each of the above-mentioned titles, we first examine the related Dashnak documents and then the sources of Soviet Armenia.

Dashnaks exploited by the Tsarist armies as a battering-ram

The statement sent to Tsar Nikolay II by the Armenian National Bureau led by Dashnaks in the very beginning of World War I displays how much the Dashnak administration was dependent on imperialism: “While the glorious Russian armies fought on the snowy Armenian hills and vast Alaskert valley against Turkey which was in need for German support and which dared to challenge powerful Russia, the Armenians followed the advice of their ancestors (…) and rose up to sacrifice their lives and belongings to protect the Great Russia and the honor of the Russian crown.

The news of declaration of war against Turkey thrilled all Armenians. Armenians from all countries are looking forward to be a part of the glorious Russian armies and to contribute with their blood to the victories of the Russian forces. We pray the mighty God to triumph over the enemy. Being magnificent Russia’s new military apparatus and helping it fulfill its historical mission in the East is our national debt to pay. We are avid to make this wish happen.

The Russian flag shall fly freely at Istanbul and Gallipoli straits.

Your goodwill, their majesties, will free the peoples under Turkish oppression.”1

Before the war broke out, speaking to Msak, the publication organ of the Armenian nationalist liberals, Zaven, the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul, proclaimed that the Armenian issue could only be fundamentally solved if the whole Armenia (including a major part of the Anatolian lands) united under the rule of Russia, the doomed holder of Armenia’s strings throughout the history. The Patriarch said “The sooner the Russians get here, the better for us.”2

Similarly, the letter sent to the British and French ambassadors to Tsarist Russia by Zavriyev, the Head of the Foreign Affairs Office of Dashnaksutyun Party, in 1915 reveals the role actively played by the Armenians during World War I: “Since the very beginning of the war, Russian Armenians have been eagerly expecting to get involved in the war in Russia and Turkey. This brings forth the re-consideration of the Armenian issue and the hope for an absolute settlement to the problem. Therefore, the Armenians cannot stay away from the imminent incidents and should, for this reason, be engaged in the war as fiercely as possible.”3

A different Dashnak document substantiating the content of the aforementioned letter which was present also in the archives of the Tsarist government is found in the personal archive of the politician and historian Boryan.

The document containing the speech delivered by the military representative of the Dashnaksutyun Party at the “National Congress - An Integrated Armenia” held in Tbilisi in February 1915 is interesting for that reason: “As known, the Russian Government, in order to equip the Turkish Armenians with arms and organize them to mount an uprising during the war, provided them 242,900 Rubles for the initial expenses. Our volunteer troops have to break the defense line of the Turkish army to unite with the insurgents and to create mayhem in and at the back of the front and thus to ensure the progress of Russian armies and take control of the Turkish Armenia.”4

The Dashnak archives are packed with documents acknowledging that the Armenians instigated riots in and at the back of the front and fought as the striking force of the Russian armies. “Turkish state officials and power-holders should know that neither Turks nor the Turkish State mean anything to Armenians now. They have to figure out different means to maintain their existence.” reports Orizon/Volume 196, a newspaper published by Dashnaksutyun in 1912.

While Orizon, volume 243, dated October 31st, 1914 called the Armenians to actively engage in war, it vowed that the victory of Tsarist Russia will mean a victory to the Armenians as well.6 Let’s look into what another Dashnak publication, Ayrenik dated September 24th, 1915 had to say about Nikolay Nikolayevic, the Governor of Caucasia in the Tsarist Russia, who was freshly appointed to Tbilisi: “Yesterday his majesty, the mighty prince Nikolay Nikolayevic, the representative of the Tsar in Caucasia, honoured Tbilisi. We profoundly believe that the mighty prince, with his absolute willpower and determination, shall eradicate the Turkish government forever. With this desire in our hearts, we salute the beloved Commander of the Russian Army in the Caucasus and bid him a warm welcome.”7

At the feast that was organized after the parade of the volunteer troops under the command of Vardab in Echmiadzin on April 15, 1915 where senior Russian officers also participated, the first glass was raised to glorious Russia and its gallant army. After the Armenian Catholico held the ceremonious praying, he expressed the gratitude of the Armenians to the Russian armies and pledged full support to Russia in the challenge of liberating the Armenian lands from the dominion of outsiders.8

Likewise, in his telegrams celebrating Vorontsov-Dashkov, the Governor of Caucasia of the Tsarist Russia and P.I. Oganovski, Commander of the 4th Caucasian Armies on the occasion of occupation of Van, Armenian Catholico V. Gevorg remarks that he would pray for further victories of the Russian armies.9

In his memoirs published in Ayrenik, volume 5, in 1933, A. Hatisyan, one of the foremost leaders of Dashnaks said “As the Russian army apparently gets closer to defeat every day, our hopes which completely relied on Russia evaporate” and thus declared which side it chose to take in World War I.10 Ovanes Kacaznuni11, the first Prime Minister of the Dashnak Government and the founder of the Dashnak Party, thoroughly mulls over this process and while making a harsh self-criticism of recent history, he admits in the report the foreign affairs bureau of his party submitted to the assembly held in Bucharest in 1923 that they unconditionally relied on Russia.

Noting that Russian Armenians, including Dashnaksutyun, held great expectations then, Kacaznuni underlines that they doubtlessly believed in the eventual absolute victory of the Allies [Britain, France] at the end of the war and thus the liberation of Turkish Armenians after Turkey’s long-wished-for downfall: “We unreservedly relied on Russia. We were, irrationally, sure that the Tsarist government would grant us an autonomous Armenia composing of freed Armenian provinces in Turkey and the Armenia in Transcaucasia in return for our efforts and assistance.

We were reckless. We forced others to fulfill our ambitions; we valued baseless promises and unqualified people way too much. The trance that captured us led us into ignoring the reality and trapped us in a world of fantasies.”12

Kacaznuni believes that the Armenians embellished themselves too much and admits that they exaggerated the power of the Armenian people, their political and military capacities and Russian support.
No doubt that the Armenian communists are among those who most closely witnessed the connection between Dashnaksutyun and Tsarist Russia. In his article published in Bolshevik Zakavkazya magazine, the monthly periodical of the Transcaucasian Regional Committee of the Absolute Unity Communist Party, in 1928 under the title of “Relating to the Armenian National Process”, A.B.Karinyan who assumed key tasks both at the party and state organs in the Soviet Armenia and who worked for long years in Armenia’s Soviet Socialist Republics Academy elucidates the links between the Dashnaks and the Tsarist government:

“The Tsarist diplomacy did not need to conceal the fact at the eve of the war that Russia intended to lure Turkish Armenians to Russia’s side and considered it was high time and also very practical to engage the Armenians in the forthcoming military operations at the Caucasian-Turkish front. T he Russian liberal press, similarly, reserved pages to narrate the pitiful situation of Turkish Armenians and began to repeatedly remind Russia’s historical mission to protect the Christian peoples of the Near East.”

The tendencies of the Russian bourgeois and the Tsarist government were accurately reflected in the Orange Book (A Compilation of Diplomatic Documents. Reforms in Armenia. November 26th 1912 – May 10th, 1914, Petersburg, 1015) published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the war. The correspondences of the Russian ambassadors abroad and the reports prepared by the consuls and the officials of the consulates clearly indicated the undeniable interest of the Tsarist Russia in the destiny of the Armenian issue. (…) Any pressure upon Turkey or restrictions upon the Ottoman State meant further fortification of Tsarist Russia in the Near East and the advance of Russian armies towards the inlands of Turkey.

Proclaiming itself as the protector of the Armenians, Russia tried to employ the churches as its representation and the Armenian revolutionist parties (such as Dashnaksutyun, Hinchak, etc.) as its servants. As also mentioned in the Orange Book, the Echmiadzin Catholico and the Istanbul Patriarchy were in close contact with the Tsarist diplomacy.14

Karinyan, while providing documentary evidence displaying the correspondences and meetings held between the Armenian Catholico, Istanbul Patriarchy, Dashnaksutyun officials and Tsarist government, notes that Dashnaksutyun aimed to raise again the issues of re-structuring the east of Turkey with the help of church representatives by triggering riots in rural areas, Russia’s intervention and the Turkish Armenians’ right to self-determination. Thus explaining that the Armenian movement fell completely under the direction of the Tsarist government, Karinyan describes how Dashnaks disseminated hostility towards Turks:

“The constant propagandas of the national press and the powerful organization of Dashnaks, incited by the provocations of the diplomats of the Tsarist Russia, further stimulated the chauvinist tendencies of the Armenians. Encouraged by Caucasian Governor Vorontsov-Doskov’s declarations, Dashnaks were completely convinced that the war emerged in the west would jump to Near East front and inevitably result in the liberation of Turkish Armenians. The Dashnak press started to fill the newspapers with Turco-phobic articles and columns which warmed up the public opinion to the idea of looming war long before the war was waged at the Caucasus front. The Russian government held the absolute control. The spies of the Tsarist government organized Dashnak propaganda actions.”15

Quoting in his article the full letter dated August 5th, 1914 written to Caucasian Governor Vorontsov-Doskov by Armenian Catholico V. Gevork, Karinyan makes the following comment:

“As clearly seen, Echmiadzin Catholico openly expresses himself as the supporter of the war in his letter where he reflected not only his spiritual willpower but also the ideas of the group governing the Armenian people. We know very well from other letters of the Catholico published in that time that Pagos Nubar Pasha, the well-known cotton manufacturer, owner of vast lands and the counterpart of the Catholico in the west, also concentrated on firing up the Armenian issue. The Catholico, Nubar Pasha and Dashnaks were not only the puppets of the diplomats of greater states but also the representatives of capitalist diplomats as well. (…) They fulfilled the tasks and implemented the plans of only Western and Russian imperialist powers.”16

In his book named “Armenia, International Diplomacy and USSR” published in 1929, Armenian Soviet historian Boryan mentions similar points with reference to the essence of the Armenian issue:

“Following the Berlin Conference, the Armenian issue turned into an instrument of pressure against Turkey imposed by the Allies through diplomatic ways. The British and Russian diplomacy (1880, 1895-1896) followed by the Russian and German diplomacies (1913-1914) manipulated the Armenian issue as an instrument for the imperialist policies pursued in the East.”17

Boryan who is declared as a “traitor” by today’s Armenian nationalists states that Dashnaks blindly relied on the imperialist states and adds: “The movement of the Armenian masses under the leadership of Armenian representatives has always been dictated by the diplomats of greater states. These representatives have permanently been instruments of the great occupying powers.”18

Boryan notes that Dashnaksutyun fully internalized the main guidelines of Nikolay II and imperialist Britain and France while particularly underlining the Dashnaks’ mission within Tsarist armies as the battering-ram.” Boryan establishes that Dashnaksutyun raised awareness among Armenian masses encouraging them to physically and financially support the Russian army and to actively get involved in the forces to get rid of the Turks; he also notes that the Armenian volunteer troops, within this scope, fought within the Tsarist army against Turks for the “salvation” of Armenia. Then, the Tsar’s war principles had turned into the principles of the Dashnaksutyun Party.

Dashnaks propagated that they adhered to the “civilized European nations” to stand against “vandal” Germans and “undisciplined” Turks. Promises were made. The Armenians were not by themselves any more in their struggle for “freedom”.19 Boryan concludes that Dashnaks served neither on behalf of nor for the Armenians and that they acted as the spies of the Tsarist Russia.20

Soviet Armenian historian A.A. Lalayan unquestionably reveals the connection between Dashnaks, Tsarist Russia/the Allies and World War I: “Long before the war started, the Dashnaksutyun Party was haunted by the delusion of occupying some parts of the Turkish territory with the ambition to create a market for the huge Armenian trade and industry bourgeois living in Transcaucasia and abroad and of making the fantasy of greater Armenian kingdom stretching between the two seas. In the opinion of Dashnak bandits, the imperialist war had to serve as an instrument that would ensure to bring a solution to the Armenian question and to occupy the identified territories (…)”

“The reactionary Dashnak party fooled the proletarian masses, as always, particularly during wartime. By disguising the imperialist nature of the 1914-1918 war and the real goals behind it, the Dashnak Party used mottos such as “freedom for our brothers in Turkey” (…). Making use of every single means, they ignited a national clash calling Armenians to eradicate the Turks.”21

Afterwards Lalayan reminds that the imperialists promised “Greater Armenia” to the grand bourgeois and their party Dashnaksutyun in return for certain services. “The Allies exploited the Armenians for the following two goals:

Firstly: The Allies promised the Turkish Armenians freedom and even autonomy and thus intended to involve them (Turkish Armenians who revolted and established so-called volunteer troops) in the war against the Turkish administration in Turkey.

Secondly: They aimed to employ the Russian Armenians who were tempted by the promised seven provinces and Cilicia, in repression brigades and pioneer troops within the Tsarist army at Turkey front and for intelligence purposes. This was the plan formulated by Russia and its allies on the brink of the imperialist war.22

Citing the correspondences of the Tsarist government in this context, Lalayan points out to the big campaign launched by Dashnaksutyun calling upon to get involved in the war on Russia’s side under the ostensible goal of “salvation of the fellow Armenians.” He remarks that the Tsarist government manipulated the Armenians to get control of the straits and descend to the Mediterranean by fixing a base in Eastern Anatolia of Turkey. The Armenian historian Lalayan refers to the letters of Tsarist Minister Lobanov-Rostovski and discloses Tsarist Russia’s project of “Armenia without Armenians”.
He verifies with documents the ultimate objective of occupying Eastern Anatolia and settling Kazaks in these regions at the expense of physical extermination of the Armenians.

Lalayan confirms with documentary evidence of various communication made by the Tsarist government in order to manipulate the Armenians and even the Kurds against Turkey and notes that the Tsarist Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs prioritizes the following three goals:

“1. The principal necessity of a revolt by the Turkish Armenians in line with the interests of the Tsarist government

2. Alluring the Armenians and thus ensuring their trust in the Tsar

3. By providing them weapons, keeping Armenians (and even Kurds) ready-to-blow in order to employ them in the war against Turkey (…)

It is clear that the Dashnaksutyun Party, by conditioning the salvation of Turkish Armenians on Tsarist Russia’s support through military means, solely spied for Russia.23”

Asot Ionnisyan24, First Secretary of the Armenian Communist Party says in the booklet named “Dashnaksutyun and the War” he authored in 1924 that Dashnaks believed World War I would engage the imperialists in the “Armenian Issue” and thus the problem would be resolved. Yet the imperialist war brought nothing but pure pain and misery to all peoples, principally the Armenians.25

V. Parsamyan displays in his booklet named “Echmiadzin and Dashnaksutyun”26 which was published in 1931 that the nationalist-adventurous policies of Dashnaks were supported by the Armenian Church led by Catholicos. Echmiadzin was actively involved in establishing volunteer troops during World War I and helped Dashnaks all the time in fulfilling their adventurous goals.

Dashnaks as an instrument of Western imperialism

Following the collapse of the Tsarist Russia, the Dashnaks stuck to the instructions of Western imperialist powers and served to the interests of states such as Britain, France and USA in the region. Kacaznuni, the Prime Minister of the Dashnak Government, held a meeting with General F. Wocker, the commander of the British Occupying Forces, on February 7th, 1919 to express his absolute certainty that their situation would improve once the Allies gained victory and advanced to Caucasia. The transcription of the mentioned meeting is kept in the archives of the Armenian Ministry of Interior.27

In his report he submitted to the party congress in 1923, Kacaznuni narrates the incidents that emerged after the absolute defeat of the Central Powers of World War I: “By the end of the month (November) the British armies, I mean the armies of our allies, deployed in Batumi. Our hopes sprang up again. Our situation in Transcaucasia would radically improve. And of course the victory-holder that would replace the German armies in Tbilisi would be our ally. We were fighting side by side, anyhow. We definitely had to pick some privileges from our alliance with Britain. This had to be true because the Georgians befriended with Germans while the Azeris openly sided with Turkey. But we were wrong again. The British granted us no privileges. It was as if they never knew or had completely forgotten that we were allies.”28 The first Dashnak Prime Minister Kacaznuni makes an assessment of the diplomatic activities of the Dashnak Party in his report and referring to the Paris Conference held in 1919 autumn, he underlines that the “Greater Armenia” project they claimed was an imperialist wish.

Kacaznuni remarks that the ridiculous project of an “Armenia stretching between the two seas” did not originate from the Dashnak Party but was invented by the Armenian Diaspora under the pressure from Western countries. In Kacaznuni’s words, after the Armenians were told that America would not approve of a smaller Armenia under its mandate and therefore they would have to forget about the mandate unless the project of “Greater Armenia” came true, this imperialist demand was taxed on Armenia.

Complaining that they were not able to use their willpower again even in an issue as grave as this which required responsibility, Kacaznuni states that their exaggerated and aimless demands, naturally, resulted in painful frustration. To accurately depict the prevailing feelings of that particular time, Kacaznuni reminds the instances when the Armenians belittled and frowned on Sevres Treaty and even US President Wilson’s map of Armenia.29

The following line from the letter written by Dashnak representative Agaronyan on July 31st 1919 to Dashnak Minister Hatisyan is significant in showing how much the Dashnaks counted upon the imperialism as a means to forever change their destiny: “The political destiny of the peoples indeed depends on the Paris Peace Conference, not on our ambitions and decisions.”30

Another document kept in the Armenian State Archive narrates how the Armenians in Adana had been armed by General Diffe, the commander of the French occupying powers, under the name “revenge troops” and fought with the French uniform on.31

Obedience to the British and French imperialism entailed to rely on the Greek occupation as well. The telegram sent by Dashnak Minister of Foreign Affairs to the party representative in Tbilisi is a clear evidence of that: “The current state at the front is grave. It is absolutely necessary to immediately inform Luck and Corbeille32 to ensure that they notify their governments on the advance of Turkish troops and that all mandatory precautions are taken. (…) And tell the Greek representative to telegram his government to report the current situation and to ask whether an attack by the Greek troops to weaken the Turks’ move would be possible.”33

The Dashnak representatives conclude another letter they sent to the Greek government as “God bless the king of Greece and the victorious Greek army.”34 A different letter sent to Soviet Armenia by Gurgen Tahmazian, the official in charge of Paris section of Hinchak Party reveals the true face of the European diplomacy: “We should not be expecting anything from Europe which continuously violates our interests. Today Europe exploits us as unprecedentedly as ever to achieve its oil and mine policies. We have to establish friendly relations with the Turks. All peoples of Asia share the same interest. They must unite to stand against the Europe’s capitalism.”35

A.F. Myasnikyan36 who was one of the leading figures of the state and the party of both the Soviet Union and the Soviet Armenia evaluates the Dashnak foreign policy: “The Armenian bourgeois and their party Dashnaksutyun kept on repeating that Armenia’s fate definitely relied on Europe and the dominating bourgeois of great states. Meanwhile, Armenia had always been a dispensable toy for the European capital.”37

In another article written on January 25th 1922 by Myasnikyan, he underlines certain points: “The Armenians were accustomed to heavily rest their destiny on the European diplomacy; they believed their only salvation could be ensured by the political knacks of European countries. Therefore, they frequently changed the inclinations of Armenia. They sometimes drifted towards Britain, sometimes towards France or the USA. They inclined towards whoever sympathized with Armenian Christian brotherhood or their whines.

The dismissal of the European diplomacy (during Soviet Armenia era) resulted in the halt of battles against the Muslim world and Turkey.38

In his book titled “Political Armenian Parties Abroad” Myasnikyan mentions how Dashnaks acted in full accordance with the interests of British imperialism on the issue of Mousul.39

While pointing out to the volunteer troops established by the Dashnaks to fight at Gallipoli Front, Soviet Armenian state official Karinyan defines the mission conducted by the Dashnaks on behalf of the West as follows: “Dashnak Armenia accomplished a certain mission in Near East. By constantly posing a threat at the Caucasian Front, they complicated things for Turkey.”40

Karinyan adds that particularly the British exploited Dashnaks following the collapse of Tsarist regime in order to get a bigger share of Turkey: “By abusing the discontentment of the minorities in Turkey, Britain formed special volunteer troops from Armenians, Syrians and Greeks. This policy was so profitable for Britain that it could attract combatant civilians and instant soldiers from the local Christian community.

The Republic of Armenia was among the most important factors during the warfare. By making baseless promises to Armenians which it never intended to keep, the British government did not suffer a single loss but instead, managed to keep Turkey under constant pressure by enjoying the entitlement to Armenian services against Turkey and also Soviet Russia and carried out its own policies in Transcaucasia by the support of Dashnaks.41

Karinyan indicates that Dashnaks established volunteer units around Adana, also named as Cilicia, which fought against the Turks in France’s legionary troops under the command of General Allenbi and underlines that they particularly brought in volunteer soldiers among Armenians living in America.42

Armenian Communist Party Regional Secretary for Delican wrote in his report dated February 20th, 1921 that Dashnaks had been exploited by the Allies as a weapon against Turkey and Azerbaijan.43

S.Hanoyana who also wrote the foreword of the Russian version of Kacaznuni’s book alludes to Armenians who fled from Anatolia to French colony Syria in his booklet named “The Dashnaksutyun Tragicomedy” published in 1930. Hanoyana reveals in his study that Dashnaks were loyal servants of imperialist powers that were in pursuit of colonizing policies. In his words, Dashnaks, during their services for the imperialist powers, naturally hated peoples who fought against the colonizing attempts.44

The historian L.A. Bayramyan mentions that British imperialism considered the east of Turkey as a military battle field to fight against Russia and as a catalyst to facilitate the implementation of its plans for Asia Minor and the East. Bayramyan records that the British diplomacy abused the Armenian issue to share the Ottoman lands on the one hand and to substitute the Russian dominion by weakening the Russian influence on Istanbul through triggering Turkey and Russia to fight against each other on the other hand.

To accomplish its goals, Britain manipulated Dashnaks. “Dashnaks strongly adhered to the orders by the British government and turned into a loyal weapon in the hands of the British diplomacy.”45

Historian G.M.Arutyunyan also refers to Dashnaks as the “disgusting legionaries” of the British-American imperialism:

“It has been the regrettable destiny of Armenian people to be the subject of the most embarrassing bargains between capitalist nations since 1878 until the Soviet-supporters came into power in Armenia. (…) The British capitalism starting from the process initiated by Berlin Conference intensified the imperialist pressure on the Armenian people. For that, the British diplomacy carefully masked its activities maintained via its consulates and intelligence networks by covering them up by the Berlin Treaty and Cyprus Convention and exploiting the Armenian nationalists’ tendency towards Western Europe. The Protestant missioners became Britain’s ideological accomplices serving as the spies of the British diplomacy.”46

S.A.Vartanyan, faculty member at Armenian SSR Academy of Sciences Institute of History, notes that the Dashnak government always needed a supporting power to rely on. Rerouting themselves towards Vrangel following the execution of Kolcak and Denikin by the Red Army, the Dashnaks ran out of hopes of resisting the anti-revolutionary forces in Russia after the extermination of Vrangel armies as well. In Vartanyan’s opinion, the new masters of Dashnaks now became American, British and French imperialist powers.”47

The Dashnaks undertook the same role in World War II as they did in World War I. Lalayan reveals that Dashnaks, standing by Hitler’s Germany, supported the invasive policies of German and Japanese fascists this time. Lalayan believes there is an interconnection between their support and Dashnaks’ fantasy of “Greater Armenia”. He underlines that they are guided by the dream of founding “independent” Armenia subsequent to the dissolution of the USSR, expanding their lands to the disadvantage of Azerbaijan and Georgia by occupying Nakhchivan, Karabakh, Ahalkialak and Borcali and establishing the “United Armenia” after occupying Turkish lands starting from Eastern Anatolia to the coasts of Mediterranean even though the said territory was not Armenian-populated at all.48 Lalayan illustrates his point of view with samples from Dashnak publications and narrates how they played war tam-tams triggering Armenians to engage in war with Hitler.

During following years, Vartanyan points out to the espionage activities of the Dashnaksutyun Party and their continuing treachery and how they sided with the Germans during World War II.49

S.M.Amirhanyan who had assumed significant tasks in Armenia’s Communist Party also underlined that Dro, being among Dashnaks’ prominent figures, also served in fascist German armies.50

Dashnaks as the perpetrators of the extermination of the Muslims

The Dashnak documents are full of accounts of massacres committed by Dashnaks who were under the command of Tsarist Russia and Western imperialism. The instruction with the number of 34 and sent on June 22nd, 1915 by Nikolayev, the Russian commander of Van troops, to Aram who became the governor of the province after the occupation of Van ordered the Armenians to avoid attacking the Kurdish population in the region and looting their villages. In his protesting reply, Aram informed that the orders would not be fulfilled and the perpetrators would be punished as severely as possible to set an example for the Muslims of still unoccupied regions.51

The urgent report sent by Lieutenant Colonel Melik-Sahnazarov, the commander of Dashnak Bas-Gyarninsk unit, to a different Armenian division on November 7th, 1918 notified that all villages of the region had been bombarded while 30 Turkish villages had been captured and asked for operation permission in order to bombard the remaining 29 villages.

The report of the Dashnak Lieutenant Colonel narrating these incidents himself is kept in Armenian State Archive. Particularly horrifying is the Dashnak report which had first been published by Armenian Soviet historian A.A.Lalayan in Revolyutsionniy Vostok journal (volume 2-3) in 1936 and then in Istoriceskie Zapiski journal (volume 2) of USSR Academy of Sciences Institute of History in 1938. The Dashnak officer proudly recites the following acts of his in the report he prepared in Beyazit-Vaaram region in 1920: “I completely exterminated the Turkish population in Basar-Gecar. Sometimes you are worried that the bullets are wasted for nothing; therefore, I did not make any distinction and killed them all. The most effective method to wipe these dogs off from the earth is to stuff the survivors of the conflicts in wells and crush them with rocks thrown over their heads so that they would not exist any more. This is exactly what I did. I assembled all the men, women and children and I finished off their low lives by stoning them with rocks in the wells that I squeezed them in.”53
The following verse from the song chanted altogether by the volunteer troops who slaughtered the Turkish and Kurdish people is significant in displaying the mood of those troops: “Come on, destroy, loot and kill-Whistle and walk freely over the hill.”54

Dashnak leader Kacaznuni, while making a thorough evaluation of the past, refers to the individual terror acts they committed in Russia and admits that the reason behind these terrorist acts was to focus the attention of the West on the Armenian issue. Kacaznunu describes Dashnak Party as an organization of conspiracy.55

Kacaznuni also confesses that they were also engaged in bloody clashes with the Muslims living in Azerbaijan and Armenia during Dashnak government: “We were not officially engaged in war with Azerbaijan but in effect we clashed in Karabakh and to some extent, in Kazah. After that we fought hard with the Muslims respectively in Arbab, Zod, Zangribazar, Vedi-Bazar, Sarur-Nahcivan, Zangezur, etc. within the country. Azerbaijan’s negative attitude towards us should be particularly noted. Similarly, the defiance of the local Muslim people against the state encouraged by the presence of Turkey and Azerbaijan should also be carefully noted.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that we failed to take necessary precautions to improve our acute conditions either within the country or abroad. We failed to take preventive measures to secure the order in Muslim-populated areas. We had no other alternatives other than resorting to weapons; we sent out armies. We massacred and as a natural consequence of this failure, we lost our credibility as the party in power. We could not succeed to ensure our dominion at critical points like Vedi-Bazar, Nahcivan even with our weapons, we dissolved and eventually retreated.56

These facts put forward by Dashnak documents and the Prime Minister are also clearly verified by the officials of Soviet Armenia. Dashnaks truly massacred the Muslim people at various regions of Anatolia and Transcaucasia during and after World War I.

While describing Dashnaks in terms of their relations with the Turks, A.F.Myasnikyan, one of the senior officials of the state, a party leader and military official, uses the phrase “people who put the Turks to sword in Turkey and who cleansed57 Caucasia from Turks.” Myasnikyan also notes that Ruben and Aram, two leading Dashnak personages, were granted the general title thanks to their barbarity towards the Muslims in Turkey.58

The article about Dashnak commander Dro that was published in Nor Nosk, a publication by Armenian internationalists who later joined Armenian Communist Party informs that Dro’s rank was raised to general for his services in cleansing Armenia off from the Turks.59 Those in charge of the massacres of the Turks had thus been rewarded.

A witness of the mentioned era, Karinyan says the Dashnaks were dazzled by the series of victories gained by the Russian army, particularly the occupation of Van and Erzurum and adds:

“They started to openly demonstrate their true aims. They did not feel the need to cover up their hatred towards non-Christians living in Turkey. Souls enlivened by the victory of the Russian victory now fully concentrated on increasing their influence on the occupied lands. And to achieve this, they resorted to physical extermination of non-Armenian population.”60

Based on this fact, Karinyan spotlights another reality: “The most serious obstacle in the realization of this ideal (establishing an independent Armenia in Eastern Anatolia) was the Armenians’ minority status in the six provinces on the east of Turkey. They formed an insignificant majority only in a few regions. The other groups, particularly the Muslims constituted the majority. Therefore, the Dashnaksutyun Party took the precautions mentioned above against these groups.

The reports and the then instructions of the Russian army clearly show that the Armenian volunteer troops tried to eradicate the non-Christians as massively as possible. They also systematically removed the Kurdish and Turkish population and thus fulfilled the Dashnaksutyun Party’s plan which required the cleansing of the identified regions off from Muslim elements and to draw the borders of the cleared regions. Despite the protests of the Russian troops, this program was tenaciously implemented. The program was devastating for the Armenians as well. They shared the same interests with their Turkish and Kurdish neighbors who had been living and working together for centuries under the same conditions. This was so obvious that even the diplomats of the Tsarist Russia expressed it more than once. The Dashnaksutyun Party acted in contrary. With their policies, they exacerbated the situation of the Armenians in Turkey.61 Lalayan explicitly observes and illustrates the connection between the volunteer troops and the massacres towards the Muslims.

Proving with witnesses to that period and documents that the volunteer Armenian troops were built by the order of the Tsarist government, Lalayan particularly notes: “Following the meetings, Dashnaksutyun, through its completely biased and sided press, launched an extensive campaign to support the volunteer movement and initiated efforts with the help of the National Bureau to directly organize these troops. It is important to note here that the number of the volunteers in the Armenian troops was decided to be 1600 at the negotiations held then. However, the National Bureau increased this number to 10.000 in order to ensure quicker occupation of the eastern provinces of Turkey. Gathering the chiefs of volunteer troops, the Bureau assigned them to ruthlessly wipe out the Turkish population and delegated these chiefs with the command of the troops.”62

Stressing that the rapid formation of the volunteer troops was carried out not only in Transcaucasia but also in Turkey, despite the protests of Turkish Armenians, Lalayan explicates the role of the Hnchaks at this point. He, as an instance, proves with documentary evidence that Mavi Hahudyan, Mikael Yaovrdyan and Gasparyan, the Hnchak officials representing Zeytin region, promised to forward to Caucasian army 15.000 volunteers comprising of Cilicia Armenians. Lalayan draws attention to the accelerated Dashnak efforts in the organization of volunteer troops during the administration of Nikolay Nikolayevic, who was appointed as the Governor of Caucasia in 1915 and points out to the nonstop massacre of Turkish women, children, elderly and disabled people particularly at war zones.

Lalayan informs that especially the Turkish Armenians reacted against building so-called “volunteer” troops and they launched campaigns in provinces like Van and Erzurum against these Dashnak troops. The Turkish Armenians even sent a delegation to Tbilisi as they were completely convinced that the “volunteer” troops would not bring any good at all, says Lalayan and adds that Dashnaks did not heed these warnings at all and that the Tsarist Russia and the British-French imperialism drove Armenians over Turkey.63

Lalayan draws up the balance sheet of the “volunteer” troops and deduces: “The First Volunteer Movement was a display of maximum courage by the Dashnak troops under the command of their blood-thirsty chiefs (Andranik, Amazayep and others) to exterminate the Turkish women, children, and the elderly and sick people. The Turkish villages occupied by Dashnaks were destroyed, completely stripped off from their once residents and full of horribly mutilated victims. (…) As clearly seen, one of the terrible consequences of the Dashnak movement was the extermination of tens of thousands of Turks.”64

Affirming that Dashnaks were the perpetrators of the Armenian-Turkish slaughter committed in Karabakh, Baku and other provinces of Transcaucasia between 1905 and 1906, Lalayan reminds that it was the Dashnaksutyun Party again which inflamed national conflicts during when they were in power between 1918 and 1920 and that they stuck to the policy of extermination of the national minorities living in Armenia which resulted in the physical eradication of hundreds of thousands of labourers:

“Throughout the dictatorship of Dashnaksutyun (1918-1920) the non-Armenian constituents had completely been recorded as illegal. The Dashnaksutyun’s ultimate aim was to annihilate the Azeri and Kurdish people living on Armenian lands and thus to make the whole territory pure Armenian.

During their 2,5-year rule, Dashnaksutyun carried out a merciless armed struggle, killing and looting the civil Azeri people, destroying and burning the villages. Between 1918 and 1919, the Dashnak Government bombed Azeri and Kurdish villages (including the Armenian villages) under the pretext of fulfilling the instructions of the state. While in 1920, following the suppression of the uprising of Armenian laborers and peasants in May, Dashnaksutyun bombed the Azeri and Kurdish villages and massacred the civilians acting with the motto of “Muslims are our enemies”.65 Inthe booklet which was published by the Red Army on occasion of the 10th anniversary of the hunter brigade of Soviet Armenia’s Red Army, T.Hacikoglyan narrates the massacres orchestrated by the volunteer Dashnak troops against the Turkish population:
“It still aches to remember the wars against Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey during the short term of the dishonest Dashnak republic, the extermination of thousands of Turks by the bloody acts of Dashnaks and the brutality, looting and slaughters witnessed in the villages of Zangezur, Sarure, Daralagoz, Megri, Arbaba, Zangibazar, Buyuk Bedi all of which had been reduced to ashes. (…)”66 While referring to the massacres of the Turks, Hacikoglyan presents an evaluation of the volunteer troop system and remarks on the soldier prototype created within this system: “The Dashnaks had a sick deeply-rooted behavioral pattern of fawning, sycophancy, despotism, marauding, leeching and killing innocent and vulnerable people.”67

The Azeri originated Armenian and a witness to the barbaric period described above, Veys Veysow who worked as the steward in charge of the B.Mazra animal farm in the Basar Gecar region narrates his experiences in the Armenian Horrdayn Ayastan newspaper: “The Dashnaks drove us out of our villages in the middle of winter under a fire of bullets. (…) The Turkish villages in our region were completely destroyed. What remained behind were merely black ashes. The Dashnaks knew no limits in savagery! They killed countless number of people and an innumerable lot of people died because of them! I am the only survivor in my once 8-membered family.

The mountains on which we stand now were covered with corpses. Then, every living soul in this region was immensely fearful. We used to suffer in dreadful suspense when the dark came fearing that the Dashnak murderers and looters would appear any minute. When my neighbors and I returned to the ruined village after the Soviet regime was brought in the country, we sadly saw that there was only one survivor from each family.”68

Source: International Symposium on the Development of Turkish-Armenian Relations and the Events of 1915 - Ankara, 2005
Mehmet Perincek

Footnotes

1 Msak, No. 271, Cited from 1914 by: Marents, “Litso Armyanskogo Smenohovstva”, Bolshevik Zakavkazya, No: 3-4, 1928, p. 89

2 Armenian USSR Central State Historical Archive (TsGİA Arm. SSR) fond vıpisok, cited from file 37, page 45-46 by Kr Nr Raranryan 7 Polojenie “Zapadnıh Armyan, “Armyanski Vopros” i Mejdunarodnaya Diplomatiya V” Posledney Çetverti XIX Veka i Naçale XX Veka, Yerevanski Gosudarstvennıy Universitet, Yerevan 1972, p.87 and so forth.

3 Mejdunarodne Otnoşeniya V Epohu İmperializma (Dokumentı İz Arhiva Vremenennogo Pravitelstva), seriya IH, t. VII, ç.II, Gosudarstvennoe Sotsialno-Ekonomiçeskoe İzdatelsvo, Moskva-Leningrad, 1935, p 45,..

4 Please see B..A..B.oryaiv Armeniya, Mejdunarodnaya Diplomatiya İ USSR, c. I, Gosudarstvennoe İzdatelstvo, Moskva-Leningrad 1929, p. 360.

5 Orizon, No. T96, cited from T912 by K.N.Karimyan, the mentioned text, p.81

6 Orizon, No. 243, October 31st 1914, cited by: A.M.Elçibekyan, Armeniya Nakanune Velikogo Oktyabriya, İzdatelstvo AN Armyanskoy SSR, Yerevan, 1963, p.18.

7 Ayrenik, No. 2, September 24th 1915, cited by:: A.Lalayan, “Kontrrevolyutsionnıy Daşnaksutyun İ İmperialistiçeskaya Voyna 1914-1918 gg” Revolyutsionnıy Vosyok, No. 2-3, 1936, p. 91.

8 Ararat, No. 5, 1915, p. 288, cited by: A.O.Arutyunyan, Kavkazski Front 1914-1917 gg., İzdatelstvo “yastan”, Yerevan, 1971, p.305.

9 Ararat, No. 5, 1915, p. 415, cited by: a.o.Arutyunyan, the mentioned text, p. 307.

10 Ayrenik, No. 5, 1933, cited by: A.A.Lalayan, “Kontrrevolyutsionnaya Rol Partii Daşnasutyun”, İstoriçeskie Zapiski, No. 2, 1928, p.83.

11 Born in Ahiska region of Georgia in 1867, Kaçaznuni joined the Dashnak organization while working as an architect in Baku following his education in architecture. In 1917 he became a member in the Armenian National Council. He worked as the Dashnak representative in Caucasian Parliament until 1918. He served his term as the first Prime Minister of the “independent” Armenia between July 1918 and August 1919. In 1920, he was arrested subsequent to the Bolsheviks come into power in Armenia. He left his country at the anti-revolutionist riot in 1921, returned after long years and worked as an architect until his death in 1938.

12 O.Kaçaznuni, Daşnaksutyun Bolşe Neçego Delat, İzdatelstvo “Zakkniga”, Tbilisi, 1927, p.13.

13 Artaşes Balasiyeviç Karinyan (Gabrielyan) was born in Baku on November 11th 1886. Being a member of Soviet Union Communist Union as of 1907, Karinyan graduated in 1910 from Petersburg University and he was involved in revolutionist activities in Baku immediately afterwards. He worked as the Chair of Economic Committee after the Soviets came into power in Armenia; he was the Head of Central Board of Execution between 1924 and 1928 and as the Vice-Commissioner at Armenian SSR Educational Public Commissioner between 1929 and 1930. Died in 1982, Karinyan has many published works on policy, economy and history.

14 A.Karinyan, “Harakteristike Armyanskih Nationalistiçeskih Teçeniy”, Bolshevik Zakavkazya, No.9-10, 1928, p.53 and so forth.

15 The mentioned text. S. 55 and so forth.

16 The mentioned text. S. 56 and so forth.

17 B.A.Boryan, The mentioned text, p. 24.

18 B.A.Boryan, The mentioned text, p. 25. Please see pages 345, 347, 371for further similar phrases.

19 The mentioned text. p. 347.

20 The mentioned text. p. 370.

21 A.Lalayan, “Konrrevolyutsionniy Daşnaksutyun İ İmperialistiçeskaya Voyna 1914-1918 gg.”, p. 79 and so forth.

22 The mentioned text, p. 81.

23 The mentioned text, p. 84.

24 Aşot Gareginoviç İoannisyan was born in Susa/Azerbaijan on June 5th, 1887. Being one of the foremost historians of Armenian SSR Academy of Sciences, İoannisyan joined the Communist Party in 1906. He was actively involved in the revolutionary actions in Transcaucasia. He was a professor in Moscow’s Lazarev Institute, Erivan University and USSR Institute of Nations. He worked as the Armenian Educational Public Commissioner between 1920 and 1921; as the First Secretary in Armenian Communist Party Central Committee (1922-27) and as the vice-director at USSR Academy of Sciences Institute of History. He produced various works on the history of Armenia.

25 Please see T.P.Agayan, Veliki Oktyabr İ Borba Trudyaşihsya Armenii Za Pobedu Sovyetskoy Vlasti, İzdatelstvo AN Armyanskoy-SSR, Yerevan, 1962, p.29.

26 Please see the mentioned text, s. 32.

27 Please see Armenian SSR Ministry of Interior Central October Revolution Archive (TsAOR MVD SSRA) cited from f.114, d. 23, y. 48 by: D.Yenukidze, Krah İmperialistiçeskoy İnterventsii V Zakavkazye, Gospolizdat Gruzinskoy SSR, Tbilisi, 1954, p. 188.

28 O. Kaçaznuni, the mentioned text, p. 43.

29 The mentioned text, p. 57.

30 Please see A.F.Myasnikyan, İzbrannıe Proizvedeniya, İzdatelstvo “Ayastan”, Yerevan, 1965, p.435.

31 Armenian SSR State Archive (GİA Arm. SSR) cited from f. 200, d.132, y. 338 by: N.Z.Efendıyeva, Borba Turetskogo Narodna Protiv Frantsuzkih Okkupantov Na Yuge Anatolii (1919-1921), İzdatelsvo AN Azerbaycanskoy SSR Baku, 1966, p.116.

32 The representatives of Entente Powers in Tbilisi.

33 D.S. Zavriyev, K.Noveyşey İstorii Severo-Vostiçnıh Vilayetov Turtsii, Tbilisi, 1947, p.85.

34 Russian State Archive on Social Political History (RGASPİ) f.544, 1. 3, d. 79, y. 51.

35 A. Myasnikov, Armyanskie Politiçeskie Parti Za Rubejom, İzdatelstvo “Sovyetski Kavkaz”, Tbilisi, 1925, p. 82.

36 Aleksandr Fedoroviç Myasnikov (real surname: Myasnikyan), Soviet senior state official, party leader, teacher of literature.

37 A.F.Myasnikyan, İzbrannıe Proizvedeniya, p. 363.

38 The mentioned text, p.372. For further review of Myasnikyan’s report including his evaluation of Dashnak policy submitted to Armenian SSR First Congress, please see the mentioned text, p. 375 and so forth.

39 Please see A.Myasnikov, Armyanskie Politiçeskie Parti Za Rubejom, p.22 and so forth., 39,52.

40 A.Karinyan, The mentioned text, p.60, 72.

41 The mentioned text, p74.

42 The mentioned text, p. 66.

43 RGASPİ f.64, I, d. 84, y. 66.

44 Please see T.p.Agayan, The mentioned text, p.31.
45 L.A.Bayramyan, İmperialistiçeskaya Politika Anglii Po Otnoşeniyu K Zapadnoy Armenii ve Kontse XIX. Veka, Yerivanski Gosudarstvenmy Universitet im. V.M.Molotova, Yerevan, 1954, p.15, 17, 19.

46 G.M.Arutyunyan, Reaktsionnaya Politika Angliyskoy Burjuazii V Armyanskom Voprose V Seredine 90-h Godov XIX Veka, Moskovski Gosudarstvenmy Universitet im. M.V.Lomonosova, Moskva, 1954, p.2,8, 14.

47 S.A.Vartanyan, Pobeda Sovyetskoy Vlasti V Armenii (1917-1920), Akademiya Nauk Armyanskoy SSR İnstut İstorii, Yerevan, 1954, p.19.

48 A.Lalayan, the mentioned text, p.76.

49 S.A.Vartanyan, the mentioned text, p.55.

50 .M.Amirhanyan, İz İstorii Borbı Za Sovyetskuyu Vlast V Armenii, İzdatestvo “Ayastan”, Yerevan, 1967, s.71

51 USSR October Revolution Central State Archive (TsGAOR SSRR) cited from f.579,1. 1,d.1880, y.3-7 by: A.O.Arutyunyan, The mentioned text, p.369.

52 Armenian State Archive (Gosarhiv Armenii) cited from f. 67, d. 644, y.1-2 by: A. A. Lalayan, “Kontrrevolyutsionnaya Rol Partii Daşnaksutyun”, p. 99 and so forth.

53 The mentioned text, p. 101; A.Lalayan, “Kontrrevolyutsionnıy Daşnaksutyun İ İmperialistiçeskaya Voyna 1914-1918 gg.”, p. 92 and so forth.

54 Please see T.Haçikoglyan, 10 Let Armyanskoy Divizii, İzdatelstvo Polit. Uprav. KKA, Tiflis, 1930, p. 5.

55 O.Kaçaznuni, the mentioned text, p.67.

56 The mentioned text, p. 48.

57 Including a footnote here, Myansnikyan that the word “cleansing” was turned into term by the Dashnaks and signified “exterminating the Turks”.

58 A.Myasnikov, Armyanskie Politiçeskie Parii Za Rubejom, p.73.

59 RGASPİf. 80, 1. 4, d. 83, y. 137.

60 A.Karinyan, the mentioned text, p. 65.

61 The mentioned text, p. 65 and so forth.
62 A.Lalayan, The mentioned text, p. 86 and so forth.

63 The mentioned text, p 88 and so forth.

64 The mentioned text., p. 92 and so forth.

65 A.A.Lalayan, “Kontrrevolyutsionnaya Rol Parti Daşnaksutyun” p. 99.

66 T.Haçikoglyan, the mentioned text, p.4.

67 The mentioned text, p 6.

68 Horrdayn Ayastan, cited from July 12th, 1936 by: A.A. Lalayan, the mentioned text, p.K 6.

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