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STIOBHARD. "Armenia"

Saturday 24 December 2005, by ps

• Alphonse Jhéön, a prominent Armenian anarchist is imprisoned by the Ottoman emperor for seducing members of the royal harem and hanged by czarist agents after the defeat of the Turks in Bulgaria in 1878. [A monument to Alphonse Jhéön, financed by a consortium of nationalist-anarchist societies, stands today in the central square of Yerevan.]

• John Kinross asserts in his book, The Ottoman Centuries, that in the 1880s, Armenian secret societies and nationalist groups made contacts with and gained "an impetus from their fellow Armenians in Russia, mainly in the Caucasus,who...[held] concepts of revolution, at once socialist and anarchist..."

• Armenia’s best known anarchist is Alexandre Atabekian [1] ", born in the Caucasus. He is in Geneva in 1891, often in the company of Kropotkin. Atabekian becomes involved with a group of Russian students in Geneva publishing the "Anarchist Library" a series of works in Russian. Atabekian is also acquainted with Elisee Reclus, Jean Grave and Paraskev-Stoyanoff. He makes contact with anarchists of Russia, France, Italy and Bulgaria. He was with Kropotkin as he died in 1921 and Atabekian was among the organizers of the anarchist funeral procession in Moscow. In 1929, he disappeared in an action by the Bolshevik government against the anarchists.

• In 1891, a number of anarchist pamphlets were published in Paris in the Armenian language, including:

L’Idee est une Force

◦ A l’Occasion de l’election du Catholicos

◦ Aux Paysans Armeniens

◦ Lettre aux Revolutionnnaires Armeniens

• Between 1880 and 1894, an anarchist Journal, Hamaink(Commonwealth) was published by Atabekian, first in Resht, Persia and later in Paris and London. Five issues appeared, in which he gave an anarchist analysis of Armenian and Ottoman subjects as well as the international revolutionary movement. Hamayank describes the exploitation of the Armenian proletariat, calling for the communalisation of land and self-determination. The magazine opposed European intervention, centralisation of the Armenian revolutionary movement and stated that all government was tyranny.

• In 1896, a pamphlet appeared with title Aux Socialistes Revolutionaires et Libertaires by the "Quelques Libertaires Armeniens".
This was translated into German and appeared in the 26 September 1896 issue of Gustav Landauer’s Der Sozialist in Germany.

• In the Summer of 1890, in Tbilisi, (Georgia) a coalition of nationalists and socialists came together called the Revolutionary Armenian Federation or simply "Dashnaktsouthian" (the Federation). Its members included Konstantin Hatisian, Christopher Mikealian, Stepan Zartan, Simon Zavarian, Ruben Hanazad, Abraham Dastakian, H. Loris Malkian and Levon Sarkisian. There were a number of competing factions, but one of these produced a manifesto in 1892 which approximated the position of the Russian Nihilists, calling for arms and the propagation of the people. This faction took part in a wave of attentats at the time when such actions occurred also in the anarchist movements of France, Italy and Spain and the United States.

• The Dashnaks split with the more Marxist Hunchaks ca. 1890, declaring "’The Armenian is no longer imploring. He now demands, with gun in hand.’ No longer prepared to await help from the powers, which was not to materialize, he took [his] destiny...into his own hands."

• The Armenian revolutionaries launched a plot to stir up a Moslem revolt by posting "seditious placards" on the walls of the towns throughout Central and Western Anatolia, calling upon all Moslems to rise against the Sultan’s oppressive rule.

The Revolutionary Armenian Federation published a series of translated pamphlets of the best anarchist writers of the day:

◦ Peter Kropotkin—

Les Minorites Revolutionnaires 1894

L’Anarchie 1893

L’Esprit de Revolte 1892-3

La Desorganisation des Etats 1892

Droits Politiques 1892

▪ Aux Jeunes Gens (as Eritasardnerin) 1898

◦ Elisee Reclus— A Mon Frere le Paysan

◦ Errico Malatesta— Fra Contadini

◦ Jean Grave— Pouquoi nous sommes Revolutionnaires 1894
These may well have been translated by Alexandre Atabekian.

The Federation also Published at least one pamphlet by Friedrich Engels.

• Christapor Mikaelian, one of the founders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, was (at least at some point) greatly influenced by Bakunin and remained committed to direct action and decentralisation all his life.

• In 1907, Paul Singer publishes, in Stuttgart, a report presented to the International Socialist Congress by the Socialist Party and the Revolutionary Armenian Federation. This French pamphlet testifies to the existence a number of active Armenian libertarians in 1896. Announces the "dawn of the Social Revolution" in the East.

• The November 1907 issue of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth reports that "Anarchist agitation in the United States is being carried on in almost all the various languages spoken in this country, including Japanese, Armenian, etc."

• In 1910, Hosankner by Mik’ayel Varandean (1874-1934) was published in Zhenev by Hratarkaktut’iwn HHD. The book was on the topic of socialism, labor and anarchism.

[1" Born in Shusha, Transcaucasia, Russia 1868 of Armenian descent, died in Russia 1940 (?); studied medicine in Geneva and Lyon; became an anarchist in 1890 through Kropotkin’s publications; in Geneva he published Armenian and Russian translations of Kropotkin and other anarchist authors; edited in 1894 the only Armenian anarchist periodical Hamaink (5 nos.); worked between 1896 and 1917 as a doctor in Northern Persia; after the February Revolution again active in the anarchist movement; edited the anarchist magazine Pocin, representing the anarcho-cooperative trend in the libertarian movement 1919-1923; one of the veteran anarchists who founded the Kropotkin Museum in Moscow; arrested in the 1930s and presumably died in a labour camp in 1940".