SILVA KAPUTIKIAN

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

[ANEC]

 

Death of Silva Kaputikian
(August 25, 2006)

 SilvaKapoutikian

Silva Kaputikian was one of the most popular Armenian women writers of the twentieth century, as well as a long-time political activist.

 

She was born Sirvard Kaputikian in Yerevan on January 20, 1919. Her parents were survivors from Van. Her father Barunak (1888-1919), a teacher and member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, died of cholera three months before her birth. She was raised by her mother and grandmother. She published her first poem in 1933, when she had adopted the first name Silva, and she attended the Faculty of Armenian Philology at Yerevan State University from 1936 until her graduation in 1941. In the same year, she became a member of the Writers Union of Armenia. By that time, she had already married another poet who would become well-known, Hovhannes Shiraz (1915-1985). They would have a son, the prominent sculptor Ara Shiraz (1941-2014), and divorce later.

 

Kaputikian joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1945. In the same year, she published her first collection of poetry, With the Days. It included a poem, “Words to My Son,” that would make her famous as one of the most recognizable poems dedicated to the Armenian language and an assertion of national identity. From that very first book until the end of her life, her writing would focus around two subjects, national identity and lyric poetry, where she also reflected traces of her personal life.

 

She studied at the Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow (1949-1950). She established herself as a significant literary figure in Soviet Armenia by the 1950s. She was awarded the USSR State Prize in 1952. During sixty years of publishing activity, she authored over sixty books in Armenian, including poetry, travelogues, and essays, and several in Russian. Her works were translated into Russian by well known poets like Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, Bulat Okudjava, and others. She earned the title of Honored Cultural Worker of Soviet Armenia (1970) and Soviet Georgia (1982).

 

In the 1960s-1980s Silva Kaputikian traveled widely throughout Diaspora communities in the Middle East, North America, and South America. She published travel books about those visits, where she focused on Armenian history—with some one-sided views—and an optimistic picture of the future. Since the 1960s, she was an advocate of national causes. She was an active participant in the April 24, 1965, demonstrations on the fiftieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and later criticized the Communist Party for its failure to properly address the anniversary. For decades, she went on a tightrope between Armenian nationalism and Soviet internationalism, but was one of the most outspoken intellectuals on issues of public concern, from the genocide to Soviet language and nationalities policies to environmentalism. In early 1988 she was a member of the first Karabagh Committee, together with fellow writer Zori Balayan and activist Igor Muradyan, among others. In the same year she won the Armenian SSR State Prize.

 

She continued her literary and public activities in post-Soviet times. She was elected a full member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences in 1994. She became critical of the first two governments of independent Armenia, especially of President Robert Kocharian. She was awarded the Mesrop Mashdots Medal (1999) by the latter, but she returned it in 2004 after the violent crackdown on the opposition on April of that year.

 

Silva Kaputikian passed away in Yerevan on August 25, 2006, and was laid to rest in the Komitas Pantheon. In 2007 a school of Yerevan was named after her, and in 2009 a house-museum dedicated to her was opened. The street on which the museum is located (formerly known as Baghramian Lane 1) was renamed Kaputikian Street.

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HAGOP VARTANIAN

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

[ANEC]

 

Birth of Hagop Vartovian
(August 18, 1830)

 

The foundation of Turkish theater is linked to a controversial name: Hagop Vartovian.

 

He was born as Hagop Gulluyan on August 18, 1830, in Constantinople. We know little about his first years, except that he went to school from 1846-1848. He debuted as an actor in May 1862, playing with the Oriental Theater in the last performance of their first season. He later moved to Smyrna, where he translated his last name into Armenian and turned it from Gulluyan into Vartovian (Turkish gülli/Armenian vartov “with rose(s)”). In 1862-1863 he acted and directed the Vaspurakan group, which played in Armenian, French, Turkish, and Greek. In 1867 he was back in Constantinople as director of the Asiatic Society group, and played Macbeth in William Shakespeare’s homonymous play, which marked the first time that the Bard entered the Western Armenian stage (after a performance in 1865 in the Mekhitarist school system without female characters). In 1869 the group was renamed Ottoman Theater, and it would cement Vartovian’s fame. In the same year, he premiered Vart and Shoushan, one of the plays of eighteen-year-old poet Bedros Tourian (1851-1872), who became one of his authors.

 

The great fire of Pera (nowadays Beyoglu) in May 1870 engulfed the entire district. Actress Azniv Hrachia, one of its witnesses, wrote in her memoirs: “The fire of Pera came suddenly; I cannot describe that terrible catastrophe, that horrible day as it was. I will just say that the entire neighborhood of Pera was in flames; the wealthy became poor, the mothers were left without children, and the children without mothers. There was not a single family with one or two members missing. Many families were found asphyxiated in the stone houses as a group. The fire did not only devour an infinite wealth, but also thousands of lives. Pera was in flames from fourteen sides, as if the fire was coming from the sky. Many people were burned in the streets.”

 

The fire destroyed all the theaters and decorations of Pera, as well as the dwellings of many actors and actresses. Only the group of Hagop Vartovian, which functioned in the neighborhood of Gedikpasha, was able to continue regular performances during the 1870-1871 season. In the same year, Vartovian ensured a ten-year permit from the Sultan, with the support of Prime Minister Ali Pasha, as the only theater allowed to present performances in Turkish. The group played in Scutari (Uskudar) in the summer, and it also had performances in Kadikoy and Pera. It had an eighty-people organization behind it, including actors, singers, and dancers, but also the auxiliary staff. The famous satirist Hagop Baronian wrote in a profile of Vartovian: “To say the truth, thanks to Vartovian’s tireless work our nation today has a theater. Once he organized the group, he hired translators and started to criticize the flaws of the nation with foreign plays, like that man who slaps a stranger and thinks to have stricken the son.”

 

The Ottoman Theater continued functioning until its dissolution in 1882. Vartovian had to sell everything to make a living and maintain his wife and three children. For a while, he was designated director of the court’s theater group. However, following the wishes of Sultan Abdul Hamid, he converted to Islam and adopted the name of Güllü Agop. He passed away on February 2, 1898, and was buried in the Yahya Efendi cemetery of Beshiktash

SHAHAN SHAHNOUR

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Birth of Shahan Shahnour

(August 3, 1903)

 

Shahan Shahnour

Shahan Shahnour

 

At the end of the 1920s, a group of young French Armenian writers started a movement towards the renewal of Armenian literature. The innovative works and theoretical writings of the so-called “Paris boys” would mark the beginning of Diasporan literature. One of the most famous names in that generation was Shahan Shahnour.

Born Shahnour Kerestejian in Scutari (Üsküdar), a district of Constantinople (Istanbul) on August 3, 1903, the future writer first attended the Semerjian School in Scutari, until 1916, and then the Berberian School. His pen name would become a combination of his first name and the first name of the Berberian School’s principal, the philosopher and educator Shahan Berberian (1891-1956).

He showed graphic talent and his first contributions to the Armenian press in Constantinople were drawings. He moved to Paris in 1923 and worked as a photographer. He followed courses at the Sorbonne from 1928-1932. He shocked the Armenian literary world with the publication of his first literary work, the novel Retreat without Song (Նահանջը առանց երգի), first in installments in the daily Haratch (1928-1929) and then as a book (1929). Branded as “the novel of the Diaspora,” it depicted the life of a group of Armenian immigrants in France and their process of assimilation and loss of identity. It was followed by a heated controversy concerning its ideological underpinnings, its denial of tradition, and various passages deemed as immoral for the standards of the time.

Shahnour became a leading member of the group of writers called “Menk” (“We”), which published the literary journal of the same name from 1931-1933, and published a collection of short stories in 1933, The Betrayal of the Resurrecting Gods (Յարալէզներու դաւաճանութիւնը). He would continue writing for the French Armenian press until the 1930s, and his essays did not lack polemical overtones.

However, health problems started in 1936 with the beginning of osteolysis (degeneration and destruction of bone tissue). The condition would take a turn for the worse after a botched surgery in 1939. For the next two decades, Shahnour, pretty much disabled, would wander through hospitals and shelters in different French cities, surviving with the help of a few Armenian and French friends. Finally, in 1959 he would find a safe place at the Armenian Home of Saint-Raphael, in the south of France, where he remained until the end of his life.

Despite his health issues, Shahnour continued writing. Although he abandoned Armenian literature for a while, he wrote poetry in French under the pseudonym of Armen Lubin that reflected his condition. His poetry, published in five collections from 1942-1957, earned him the praise of leading French writers and several literary prizes well into the 1960s. (A complete Armenian translation appeared in 2007.) He returned to Armenian letters in 1956 and forged a friendship with Arpik Missakian, publisher of Haratch, who would assist him for the rest of his life. Although his disability precluded him from writing literature, he focused on essay writing, and collected much of his old and new works in several collections: The Sunday Issue of My Newspaper (1958), A Couple of Red Notebooks (1967), The Open Register (1971), and The Fire at My Side (1973). The popularity brought by his old works continued alive with the readers until the end of his life and beyond; Retreat without Song would have four more editions between 1948 and 1994, and was posthumously translated into English (1981) and French (2009).

Shahnour’s life came to an end on August 20, 1974, in the hospital of Saint-Raphael. He was buried in the cemetery of Pere-Lachaise, in Paris, along Shavarsh Missakian, the founding publisher and editor of Haratch, the newspaper that had launched him to fame.

 

STEPANOS SIUNETSI

 

 

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Death of Stepanos Siunetsi
(July 21, 735)

 

Stepanos Siunetsi was a very prolific medieval author and translator, as well as an important figure of the Armenian Church.

He was the son of Sahak, a clergyman, and was probably born in 688. His father was an archpriest in Dvin, the capital of Armenia and seat of the Catholicosate, where Stepanos studied. Afterwards, he received his religious education first in the monastery of Makenetsots (province of Gegharkunik, near Lake Sevan) and then in the famous seminary of Siunik, directed by Movses Kertogh. He was consecrated archimandrite and replaced the latter as director of the seminary. A few years later, he returned to Dvin, where he continued his intellectual activities.

In 710 Stepanos traveled abroad to pursue what we would today call “graduate studies” in Athens and Constantinople, where he studied Greek and Latin literature, learned musical theory, and deepened his knowledge in theology and literary scholarship. He also produced translations from the works of several authors, such as Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite, Nemesius of Emesa, and Gregory of Nyssa.

Around 720 he returned to Armenia and settled in Dvin, where he continued his literary and ecclesiastic work. He wrote biblical commentaries and, above all, church hymns, which entered the Sharaknots (collection of hymns) of the Armenian Church and are praised for their musical quality and freshness. He also wrote a commentary of Dionysus Thrax’s Art of Grammar. During his preaching, he met Prince Sembat Bagratuni, a staunch defender of the resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, who quarreled with Stepanos and subjected him to persecution and death threats. The ecclesiastic escaped to Constantinople in disguise and found refuge near an Orthodox hermit to continue his theological and philosophical studies.

In 728 he went to Rome and brought the texts of several Fathers of the Church (Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Epiphanius of Cyprus) to Armenia. Catholicos David I received him with joy for this important discovery, which was coincidental with the death of Bishop Hovhan of Siunik. Stepanos was consecrated bishop and prelate of Siunik. Upon the request of the Catholicos, he wrote the work Commentary on the Four Evangelists, which is the only work of the old school of commentary of Siunik that has reached us in a twelfth-century manuscript discovered by Bishop Garegin Hovsepiants, future Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, in 1917.

Historian Stepanos Orbelian (thirteenth century) described Stepanos Siunetsi as a spiritual pastor of “sweet severity” and a careful guide, who both “nurtured the children with the milk of Christ” and “stroke the vicious ones like a sword.” Unfortunately, his severity towards the vicious ones cost him his life.

In 735 the prelate made a pastoral tour of the twelve districts of Siunik, where he redecorated the churches, preached the word of the Gospel and advised and punished sinful people. He visited the town of Moz in the valley of Yeghekis. He admonished  a woman of lewd behavior to repent, but she continued her indecent ways, and the bishop excommunicated her. Seeking revenge, the woman persuaded her lover to kill Stepanos while he slept. He was unable to carry it out, and the woman took the sword and killed Stepanos. The unfortunate ecclesiastic was buried in the church of St. Christopher.

According to Stepanos Orbelian, a strong earthquake hit the area for forty days in the same year, causing the death of some 10,000 people. Because of the lamentations of the population (symbolized by the interjection vay/վայ in Armenian), the region was said to have taken the name of Vayots Dzor (valley of the vays). The catastrophe was ascribed to a divine punishment for the tragic murder of Stepanos Siunetsi. His body was reburied in the monastery of Tanahat, where a small chapel was built over his tomb. In 1273-1279 the chapel was replaced by a magnificent church.

Stepanos’ sister, Sahakdukht, was also a teacher and the first Armenian female composer known as such. She renounced to worldly life and carried the life of a hermit in a cave at the gorge of Garni, near the ruins of the homonymous pagan temple. She taught children and composed church hymns.

KRIKOR ZOHRAB

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Birth of Krikor Zohrab
(June 26, 1861)

 

KrikorZohrab

Krikor Zohrab

Known as the “prince of the Armenian short novel,” he was also a skillful and highly regarded lawyer, as well as an experienced member of the Ottoman Parliament. His parliamentarian immunity, however, was violated to turn him into one of the victims of the first wave of arrests and killings of intellectuals that began on April 24, 1915.

 

Krikor Zohrab was born into a wealthy family in the district of Beshiktash (Constantinople) on June 26, 1861. He started his elementary studies at the local Makruhian School. In 1870 his father passed away and his mother remarried, this time to a noted lawyer. Zohrab’s family moved to Ortakeuy, where he and his brother Mihran continued their education at the local Tarkmanchats School. In 1876 he entered the Galatasaray Institute, sponsored by the French government, which was the only institution of higher education in the Ottoman Empire at the time. He graduated in 1880 with a degree in civil engineering, but rather than working in that field, he went to work in his stepfather’s law office, and entered the law section of the Galatasaray Institute, which was soon closed due to lack of Muslim students (it had 45 Armenian, 2 Muslim, 2 Jewish, and 3 Greek students). In 1882 he enrolled in a newly opened law school, the Imperial University of Jurisprudence, but left two years later without graduating. In 1884 he passed an exam in the city of Edirne and obtained the title of lawyer.

 

Zohrab had already entered the literary field in 1878, becoming a contributor to the daily Lrakir at the age of 17. In the 1880s he would become one of the prolific names in the literary movement of the time. In 1885 he was the publisher of the journal Yergrakount of the Asiatic Society, edited by the famous satirical writer Hagop Baronian. He published there his first novel, A Disappeared Generation, which he released in book format in 1887. He edited the literary journal Masis in 1892-1893, to which he also frequently contributed with novellas. He also wrote for the dailies Arevelk and Hairenik. He joined the trend of realism, propelled by French writers such as Guy de Maupassant and Émile Zola, and became the master of this current genre, which became the only one to be called “school” in Armenian literature. 

 

Zohrab married Clara Yazejian in 1888. They had four children: Levon, Dolores, Aram, and Hermine. Dolores Zohrab-Liebmann would later become a philanthropist in New York City. In 1891 he was elected delegate to the National Assembly, but his election was annulled in a session of the Assembly because he was not yet thirty years old.

 

He took a long break from literature in 1893-1898, which included the impact of the Hamidian massacres of 1894-1896, devoting himself to his profession. He was well known to foreign citizens living in Constantinople, because he often represented them in the first commercial court, due to his knowledge of French. He was also a translator and legal advisor to the Russian embassy in Constantinople, and managed cases for Russian citizens. He also had the right to freely travel in Europe.

 

Masis, now a daily, made a comeback in 1898, again edited by Zohrab, who returned to his literary endeavors, coupling them with his professional activities, where he had already acquired a prestigious name. However, in 1906, after he defended a Bulgarian revolutionary in a criminal case, accusing a Turkish official of torture, he was disbarred. He went to Paris, where he published a law monograph in French. He was planning to settle in Egypt with his family when the Young Turk coup d’état of 1908 and the restoration of the Ottoman Constitution changed his plans. He returned to Constantinople, where he was elected member of the Ottoman Parliament. He was known for his eloquent speeches.  He vehemently defended Armenian interests and rights. After the double Adana massacre of April 1909, he strongly criticized the Turkish authorities for their actions and demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

 

To serve the Armenian cause, he wrote an influential paper in French called “La question arménienne à la lumière des documents” (The Armenian Question under the Light of Documents), published in 1913 under the pseudonym Marcel Leart in Paris. It dealt with many aspects of the hardships endured by the Armenian population and denounced the government’s inaction.

 

Also in 1909-1911 he gathered his novellas and short stories in three volumes, Life as It Is, Silent Pains, and Voices of Conscience. He also published Known Figures, portraits of contemporaries, and From the Traveler’s Journal, a series of travelogues.

 

Simultaneously with the Ottoman Parliament, Zohrab also became a member of the Armenian National Assembly. He raised the issue of reforms for the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which led to the signature of the Russo-Turkish agreement in January 1914, thwarted after the beginning of World War I.

 

After the wave of arrests of intellectuals on April 24 and the following days, Zohrab pleaded for the liberation of his compatriots and the cessation of the ongoing atrocities. He was personally acquainted and friends with many officials, including Ministry of Interior Talaat Pasha. However, his efforts were useless. Despite their parliamentary immunity, Zohrab and his colleague Vartkes Serengulian were both arrested on May 21, 1915, and dispatched to Diyarbakır for a purported trial by court martial. They were sent to Aleppo, where they remained for a few weeks, waiting for the result of attempts to have them sent back to Constantinople, to no avail. They were dispatched to Urfa, and killed in the outskirts of the town between July 15 and 20, 1915.

 

Krikor Zohrab’s memory as an outstanding writer and lawyer has remained alive for a century. His books have been widely published in popular and critical editions and his short stories have been included in many school textbooks. Most recently, on May 3, 2017, a plaque honoring him, in memory of the Armenian Genocide, was inaugurated at the School of Lawyers of the Appellate Court of Paris.

TREATY OF BATUM

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Treaty of Batum (June 4, 1918)

 

In the early months of 1918, two parallel processes developed in the Southern Caucasus: on the one hand, Ottoman military actions, and on the other, diplomatic efforts. The signature of the Treaty of Batum marked a temporary end to both processes.

map
After the second Russian Revolution (November 7, 1917, according to the Gregorian calendar) and the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks headed by Lenin, Soviet Russia took measures to sign a separate peace with the Central Powers. Russians and Ottomans signed the armistice of Erzinga on December 5, 1917, ending the armed conflicts between both sides. The armistice was followed by the Treaty of Brest Litovsk (March 3, 1918), which marked Russia’s departure from World War I. The Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Seim (Parliament) of Transcaucasia, formed by Georgians, Armenians, and Tatars (not yet named Azerbaijanis), held the peace conference of Trebizonda between March 14 and April 5. The Ottomans offered to surrender any ambition in the Caucasus in return for the recognition of the conditions of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, which delivered Western Armenia, Kars, and Ardahan to the Ottoman Empire. Akaki Chkhenkeli, head of the Transcaucasian delegation, accepted the treaty as a basis for further negotiation. However, Armenians refused to accept the situation and hostilities resumed. The Ottoman army advanced further to the east, despite Armenian resistance.

 

A new peace conference between the Ottoman Empire and the newly-independent Republic of Trancaucasia (proclaimed on April 22) opened at Batum on May 11. The Ottomans left aside the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and increased their demands to include Alexandropol (nowadays Gumri), Surmalu (including Mount Ararat), Akhalkalak, and Akhaltskha. They also requested the construction of a railroad that connected Kars and Julfa (in Nakhichevan) with Baku. The transport corridor would run through Armenia, which was to give free right of passage. The Armenian and Georgian members of the Republic’s delegation began to stall the negotiations. The Ottoman army moved ahead and occupied Alexandropol on May 14. Between May 21 and 28, the fate of Armenia and Armenians was decided in the historic battles of Sardarabad, Gharakilise, and Bash Abaran. After the dissolution of the Republic of Transcaucasia on May 26-27 with the declaration of independence of Georgia and Azerbaijan, on May 30 the Armenian National Council of Tiflis (nowadays Tbilisi) assumed the authority of the Armenian provinces, retroactive to May 28.

 

Despite its defeat at the three battles, the Third Ottoman Army held positions 4 miles from Yerevan and 6 miles from Etchmiadzin. Armenians had exhausted their possibilities of resistance and had no choice but to make peace with Turkey and sign a treaty that, despite its humiliating conditions, would give them a minimum respite, hoping that the world war would end soon and the Allied victory would bring justice to their cause.

 

Three separate treaties were signed in Batum between the Ottoman Empire and the three Transcaucasian republics on June 4-5. The treaty of “peace and friendship” signed with the Republic of Armenia, represented by Alexander Khatisian, Hovhannes Kajaznuni, and Mikayel Babajanian, tacitly recognized its independence, ironically, three years after the genocide had started. The treaty left to Armenia Yerevan, Etchmiadzin, and the district of Nor Bayazid (now Gavar), around Lake Sevan. Parts of the districts of Sharur, Yerevan, Etchmiadzin, and Alexandropol were seized by the Ottoman Empire, as well as Akhalkalak and Akhaltskha, with a total of almost 18,000 square miles and a population of around 1,25 million people. Armenia was left with a landlocked territory of around 4,250 square miles (half of the extension of New Jersey), fifty kilometers of railway in the north and six kilometers extending west from Yerevan.

 

As historian Richard Hovannisian wrote in 1967: “Thus, the Republic was created under conditions so tragic as to defy adequate description. Yet, there was an Armenia. In mid-1918, even that was a remarkable accomplishment.” The situation would change by the end of 1918.

 

KEVORK CHAVOUSH

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Death of Kevork Chavoush
(May 27, 1907)


Kevork Chavush Graphics

There were names that rose to legendary proportions at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, when Turkish and Kurdish marauding of Armenian peasantry was met with armed resistance by fedayees (freedom fighters). Kevork Chavoush was among the most prominent figures leading that struggle.

 

He was born Kevork Atamian in 1870, in the village of Megtink, district of Psanats (Sasoun). In 1886 his family sent him to the school of the monastery of the Holy Apostles (Arakelots) in Moush. At school, he heard about Arabo (Arakel Mkhitarian, 1863-1893), one of the founders of the fedayee movement. He decided to join the movement in 1888. He left for Aleppo, where he spent two years working to buy a gun. In 1890 he returned to Sasoun. 

 

In 1892 Gurbo, the head of the neighbor village of Alizernani, betrayed Arabo and reported his location in the village of Pertag to the Turks, who managed to capture him despite heavy casualties. Kevork Chavoush punished Gurbo’s treason by killing him in his own home. 

 

After Arabo was killed in 1893, Kevork Chavoush participated actively in the first rebellion of Sasoun in 1893-1894. He was captured and condemned to 15 years of prison. However, he was able to escape from the prison of Bitlis in April 1896 and return to Sasoun, where he met legendary freedom fighter Antranig (1865-1927) and entered the ranks of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

 

Serop Aghpiur (1864-1899), another famous fighter, was forced to leave his home in Khlat and move to Sasoun. Kevork Chavoush and Antranig, joined him with their own groups. Serop established certain rules among the fedayees. The first rule was that the fedayee was married to his weapon. He noticed that the Armenian villages were in enmity, since men from one village stole women from another, and declared that anyone doing such a thing would be severely punished. Kevork’s uncle, Ave, kidnapped a housekeeper at the monastery of the Holy Apostles. Serop left it to Kevork to decide the punishment. He was forced to kill his uncle, but depression led him to leave Serop’s battalion and isolate himself for a few days.

 

In his absence, Serop was betrayed by a villager from Keghashen, also called Ave, who let the Turks know about Serop’s position and poisoned him. A troop of 2,000 Turks and Kurds soldiers surrounded the village of Gelieguzan. Aghpiur Serop, his son, and his brothers fell during the unequal battle. His wife Sose continued the fight, but was wounded and taken prisoner by Turkish chief Khalil bey, who beheaded Serop. His death did not go unpunished. In April 1900 Kevork Chavoush liquidated Ave and all other people implicated in the betrayal. In November a group of 30 fedayees, headed by Antranig and Kevork, ambushed Khalil bey and his 40 horsemen. They took Khalil prisoner and beheaded him.

 

On November 1, 1901, Antranig and Kevork Chavoush, together with a group of 25 to 27 fighters, occupied the Holy Apostles monastery. The operation had been carefully planned to attract the attention of the foreign powers. A few days later, 3,000 Turkish soldiers besieged the monastery. During the siege, typhus declared among the Turks, who started negotiations on November 18. However, on the night of November 27 the fedayees managed to cut through the siege and disappear in the dark.

 

After the defeat of the second rebellion of Sasoun in 1904, Kevork Chavoush fought heroically in the plain of Moush with Antranig and other fedayees, and later he went to the region of Vaspurakan (Van). The meeting of local leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, held at the island of Aghtamar in September 1904, decided that a group of fighters return to Sasoun and continued the struggle against the Turkish authorities. Kevork became the A.R.F. representative in the region of Moush and Sasoun, and the leader of Armenian freedom fighters in the region from 1905-1907.

 

Kevork Chavoush had left his sweetheart, Yeghso (Heghine), when he had entered the cause of freedom. However, she never ceased to love him, even after she was forced to get married. In 1905 she escaped her home and tried to see Kevork for the last time before taking her own life. He first rejected, but then his comrades of arms convinced him. They married the same day, breaking the rule of fedayee etiquette, and had a son called Vartkes.

 

On May 25, 1907, an unequal fight broke in the village of Souloukh, in the plain of Moush. Eighty fedayees fought against a 2000-strong Turkish troop. The Turkish troops gave 120 dead and 110 wounded. The Armenian losses were seven dead and 21 wounded. Most importantly, however, Kevork Chavoush was mortally wounded in the fight. He passed away on May 27. After his death, the Turks tried to kill his wife and son, but his comrades saved their lives.

 

Kevork Chavoush’s life and exploits became the material for songs and novels. Like the rest of the fedayee movement, his name was banned for many years in Soviet Armenia. In the 1960s his relative Kevork Melkonian managed to install his statue in the village of Ashnag, whose population had its roots in Sasoun, complemented by a museum he inaugurated in the 1980s. After the independence of Armenia, other statues were inaugurated in Yerevan, Artashat, Jermuk, and the village of Lousarat.

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