30 June 2011
30 June 2011
One of the most clear evidence that the Armenian nationalist parties have no right to present themselves as promoting human right is the practice of terrorism by Armenians against other Armenians. However, this is not the most studied and the best known aspect of the Armenian issue.
The inter-Armenian terror appeared in 1878, with the creation, in the city of Van (eastern Anatolia) of the Black Cross Society. The group had chosen this name because one punishment was reserved to the “traitors”: death; and in this case, the future victims had their names inscribed on a black cross. The Black Cross Society merged with other Armenian groups, from Russia and Ottoman Empire, to create the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF-Dashnak) in 1890. The main concurrent of the ARF, the Hunchak party, created in Geneva in 1887, practiced the terrorism also extensively against Armenians. . .
The design to exterminate the contradictors
In a paper presented in the Annual Middle East Studies Association Meeting, in November 1983, Gerard L. Libaridian, currently in charge of the Armenian studies in the University of Michigan, and by no means an enemy of the revolutionary parties, explained that, only in three years (1904, 1905 and 1906), the ARF and the Hunchak party assassinated 105 persons, including “56 Armenian informers”, 17 other Armenians and 32 Ottoman or Russian officials (some could be Armenians).
It means that literally hundreds of Armenians were killed by Armenian terrorists from 1878 to 1914. The two main reasons were: 1) loyalty to the Ottoman Empire, especially in case of participation within the administration; 2) the refusal to give material or moral support to a nationalist-revolutionary party. As a result, the most targeted were the civil servants, the wealthy businessmen and the churchmen. Internal disputes in the ARF or the Hunchak led sometimes also to murder.
The chief of police in Bitlis (eastern Anatolia), an Armenian, was assassinated by the ARF in 1898. This case demonstrates that Abdülhamid II did not refrain, even after the bloody interethnic clashes of 1894-1896, to chose loyal Armenians in sensitive positions; and that the interdiction to have weapons for the non-Muslims was no more strictly applied after the Tanzimat (1839-1856). The ARF and the Hunchak pursued their rich targets far beyond the limits of the Ottoman Empire. In December 1909, the Hunchakist Bedros Hampartzoumian was executed on the electric chair of the Sing Sing prison (New York) for the murder of H. Tavshanjian, a businessman. The millionaire Isahag Jamharian was assassinated in Moscow by the ARF in 1902. Arsen Vartabed, abbot of Akhtamar monastery, was butchered, together with his secretary, in 1904, by the Dashnak terrorist Ishkan and his gang, who wanted to control the income and the property of the monastery. This crimes gives a very special sense to the vitriolic ARF’s reactions in 2010, when a mass was celebrated in the renovated church of Akhtamar on an island in the Van Lake with the special organization of the Turkish authorities.
But the most important murder probably was the one of Bedros Kapamaciyan Effendi, a wealthy merchant of Van elected in 1909 as mayor of this city, thanks to the support of the Committee Union and Progress (CUP). He was killed by the ARF in December 1912. After Kapamaciyan’s assassination, virtually no Armenian dared to support the Ottoman government in Van province, both because of the cumulative effect of the numerous murders and because of the notoriety of the victim.
The continuation of the terror
The assassinations followed after WWI. The ARF continued to attack the remaining loyal Armenians. Several were killed in Ystanbul during 1920-1921 for the help given to the Ottoman authorities during WWI. For example, S. Thelirian, the assassin of Talat Pasha in March 1921, one year before this murder killed also Harootiun Mugerditchian, who had established the list of the suspects arrested on April 24, 1915. But the Ottoman Empire — and soon the modern Turkey — was no more the main field of activities for the inter-Armenian terror. In 1918, the ARF assassinated Hampartzoum Arakelian journalist of Tiflis (Tbilisi), because of his numerous articles criticizing the Dashnaks. With a typically Dashnak conception of courage, armed terrorists killed this 70-years old unarmed man in his bed, during the night. Two Hunchakist intellectuals, one Ramkavar journalist and two dissidents of the ARF were assassinated from 1926 to 1933. The culmination of this campaign was the murder of Archbishop Leon Tourian, chief of the Armenian Church for the American continent. Tourian was killed in the Armenian Holly Cross Church, on December 24, 1933, during the Christmas ceremony. The two main perpetrators were sentenced to death (commutated into life imprisonment by the governor of New York); the seven accomplices received between ten and twenty years of prison sentences. The lawyer’s costs of the defendant were assumed by the ARF, who presented the perpetrators as “victims”. The Dashnaks paid this crime by more than thirty years of solitude in the Armenian American community. Probably in reprisal, an ARF leader in USA was hit (and killed) by a car in Providence; two others General Sebouh and Reverend Martougessian, escaped only by chance to attempts of assassination.
Nevertheless, the revival of the Armenian terrorism against Turkey (1973-1991), then against Azerbaijan (1988-1994), did not fail to assault moderate Armenians. A striking example is Jan Vahe Tosunyan, born in 1907 in Ystanbul, emigrated to Paris in 1925 and became a well-known jeweler, specialized in diamond. He expressed pro-Turkish views when the allegations of “Armenian genocide” appeared, and was silenced in 1974 by death threats of fanatic Armenians. On March 26, 1982, the Armenian Secret Army for Liberation of Armenian (ASALA) bombed an Armenian movie theater of Beirut (Lebanon), because the boss refused to give money to ASALA and showed frequently Turkish films; two persons were killed, sixteen were injured —all Armenians. “Hay Baykar”, the ASALA newspaper edited in Paris, attributed shamelessly this attack to the Lebanese Phalanges (Maronites). Actually, the ASALA practiced a gangster-styled racket. Vicken Tcharkhutian was sentenced in 1987 by the Californian justice to twelve years of jail for the bombing of several Canadian and Swiss targets in California, but also for racketeering against the Armenian American owner of a Hollywood flooring store. The four ASALA terrorists sentenced in 1984 in Canada for the attempt of assassination against Kani Güngör, commercial attaché at the Turkish embassy (left paralyzed by the shooting), were initially arrested for racketeering against a rich Canadian Armenian.
More recently, in Winter 2008-2009, the association of ASALA veterans threatened to death —successfully — Armen Gakavian, an Australian Armenian scholar who wanted to launch a petition of apologies for the anti-Turkish Armenian terrorism and the war crimes of Armenian volunteers of Russian army during WWI, a reciprocal gesture for the Turkish apologies petition.
The responsibilities of the forgetting
Not surprisingly, the ARF maintains a policy of denial. The US branch of the ARF still denies any involvement in the assassination of Tourian, and maintains against all evidence that its seven activists were wrongly sentenced. The Euro-Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD), the Dashnak lobby in Brussels pretended on its Web site, in 2007, that the murderers had been “expelled from the [Dashnak] party”. Needless to say, that is pure fiction. In his issue of September 16, 1933, the Dashnak daily “Hairenik” (Boston, USA) claimed with pride that the ARF used “very similar to the underground methods of modern racketeering” from 1890’s to 1914. Such a bragging has been replaced by a prudent discretion on these crimes. Only the assassination of Armenian “traitors” in 1920-1921 is still a matter of pride.
A special responsibility is the one of the Ramkavar, an Armenian party created in 1921 by merging of several other organizations. During decades, the Ramkavar activists denounced the ARF as a fascist and terrorist organization — not without reason in this case. But in 1972, the Ramkavar of USA accepted to create a common structure with the ARF, the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA). The Dashnaks left the AAA some years later to create the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), but despite some tactical divergences, AAA and ANCA act frequently in cooperation against Turkey. In addition, AAA includes the representatives of the Hunchakists, despite the direct practice of terrorism against Armenian by this party before 1914, and more recently its open support to ASALA. Speaking few after the Orly attack (1983), Larry Cretan, former director of the Ramkavar-dominated Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), said “I am disturbed by those kinds of acts because I feel they’re counterproductive,” — so not because they were criminal — and added he could “understand the motivations behind them.” (“The California Courrier”, August 4, 1983, p. 2). Mr. Cretan failed to mention even the attacks of the ASALA against some Armenians.
In France and UK, the things are more simple: almost all the Armenian associations, Dashnak and non-Dashnak are in the same umbrella. The current co-chairmen of the Coordination Council of France’s Armenian Associations are Jean-Marc “Ara” Toranian, former spokesman of ASALA, and Franck Mourad Papazian, a Dashnak, who wrote many articles in the 1980’s to support the ARF’s terrorist branch (JCAG/ARA).
But to be complete, it is necessary to question the Turkish response. Some of the first books of Turkish historiography answering to the “genocide” charge dealt with the internal Armenian violence but most were never translated into any language. It was not until 2002 that a specific study was devoted to Bedros Kapamaciyan, in English and in Turkish. According to Google maps, there is no Bedros-Kapamaciyan street, avenue or square. Since 1973 (inauguration of the memorial of Van-Zeve), monuments have been erected in eastern Anatolia for the Muslim victims who were murdered by the nationalist Armenian committees. Why not, also, a homage to a non-Muslim Ottoman patriot, assassinated because of his loyalty to his country?