Map Close  
Person info Close  
Information Close  
Source reference Close  


The Urartu Civilisation

Victory for Independence

Artashisian Dynasty on the Armenian Throne

Armenia caught between Rome and the Arsacids

The Acceptance of Christianity

Defending Christianity

Armenia Under the Bagratouni Dynasty

Cilicia - the New Armenia

Armenia Under Turanian Rule

The Renaissance or the Resurrection of Armenia

The Eastern Question

Russia in the Caucasus

The Armenian Question

Battle on Two Fronts

Tsarist Russia Against the Armenians

The Revolution of the Young Turks and the Armenian People on the Eve of World War I

The First World War

The Resurrection of Armenia

Armenia on the Road to Independence, 1918

- Armenia on the Road to Independence, 1918

Eastern Armenia

Western Armenia

"The Fateful Years" (1914-1917)

"Hopes and Emotions" (March-October, 1917)

The Bolshevik Revolution and Armenia

Transcaucasia Adrift (November, 1917

Dilemmas (March-April, 1918)

War and Independence (April-May, 1918)

The Republics of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia

The Suppliants (June-October, 1918)

In conclusion

Soviet Armenia

The Second Independent Republic of Armenia


Previous page Page 413 Next page Smaller font Larger font Print friednly version  
Transcaucasia Aflame

Though the March 26 meeting of the Seim adjourned in a state of agitation, the expressions of distrust and animosity had been quite restrained in comparison to the antagonism that pervaded those sessions dealing with internal affairs of Transcaucasia. At such times, the superficiality of cooperation was most rudely unmasked. While the "intellectuals" harangued in Tiflis, every province of Transcaucasia was aflame with anarchy and civil strife. In particular, the turmoil in the Yerevan guberniia threatened to erupt into rampant interracial warfare.

From the march Revolution until the winter of 1917, civil administration in Yerevan had nearly ceased to exist, but soon after the Bolshevik coup the guberniia's Russian, Armenian, and Moslem inhabitants each formed a national body wielding considerable authority. 56 The Armenian provincial council was created in December at a conference sponsored by Bishop Khoren of Yerevan. 57 Yet the region lacked a strong and experienced leadership. In Tiflis, the Russian Armenian National Council delegated Aram Manoukian to fill the gap. The choice was well calculated, for the hero of Van was a veteran organiser, fully aware of the strengths and shortcomings of his people. The National Council, while collaborating with the Commissariat, expected Aram to ignore and, if necessary, to counteract those directives of the Tiflis government which were deemed harmful to Armenian interests. Arriving in Yerevan during the first half of January, 1918, Aram organised a committee which served as an unofficial administration. It expelled several Armenian bandit groups from the city, levied special taxes on the residents, confiscated stores of material abandoned by the Russian troops, and, in violation of the Commissariat's instructions, conscripted hundreds of men. With surprising unity and willingness, the Armenians of Yerevan adopted almost every suggestion of "Aram Pasha." 58

The nearly four hundred thousand Moslems of the guberniia were not oblivious of the activities of their Christian neighbours. Expropriation of the military supplies was loudly protested by the Tatars, who complained that the security of their villages was threatened by the influx of Armenian troops. Rumours that fellow Moslems were being oppressed and massacred in Western Armenia intensified their anxiety and antagonism. The "Shamkhor Massacre" of January, 1918, acted as a signal for the concerted Moslem movements in Yerevan. On the Yerevan-Joulfa railway, which passed near many Tatar settlements, troop trains were derailed and tracks and bridges destroyed. Armenian soldiers in transit to the Kars front were halted at the strategic juncture of Ulukhanlu, a Tatar village several kilometres from Yerevan. To the south of Ulukhanlu in the districts of Sharur-Daralagiaz and Nakhichevan, isolated Christian villagers were besieged. Throughout the province, wherever mixed Armenian-Tatar hamlets existed, the weaker national element usually fled from fear or by force. On March 5, interracial hostilities in Yerevan itself claimed a hundred victims. Only immediate joint action by the Armenian and Moslem councils spared the city from going up in flames. 59

On the same day that the bullets rained down on Yerevan, a Commissariat inspection team, which had just returned from that city, presented its findings to the Seim. The Jafarov-Karjikian report printed a sad picture of anarchy and mutual Moslem-Christian atrocities. Scarcely a single depot was operative along the entire railway, which was continually sabotaged by armed bands. Armenians decried Tatar violence in one district, while, in another, Moslems bewailed the loss of hundreds of their innocent brothers at the hand of the ruthless Armenians. The Kurds, on their part, had confessed to thievery and looting but asserted that these acts were essential for survival, as, unlike the Armenians and Tatars, they did not receive provisions from governmental reserves. Following the report, the Seim engaged in a round of insults, accusations, and denials. Except for the adoption of a resolution abounding with idealistic phrases, no positive action was taken to cope with the crisis. 60 No more comforting were the findings submitted two weeks later by another commission, composed of Smbat Khachatrian, former provincial commissar of Yerevan; Aslan Bek Safikurdsky, an erstwhile Social Revolutionary and an organiser of the "Shamkhor Massacre"; and the chairman, Grigory Georgadze, a Georgian Menshevik. The chairman reported that treacherous Moslem bands entrenched along the railway controlled the flow of traffic, while, on the other hand, the inhabitants of twenty Tatar villages had been killed or dispersed by regular Armenian contingents. In short, chaos reigned in Yerevan. The usual Armeno-Moslem barrage in the Seim commenced even before Georgadze had completed his statements. 61