At the beginning of 1920, taking advantage of French apathy, the Kemalists attacked Marash in the direction of Cilicia. The French abandonment of Marash had a tragic meaning not only for the city, but for the entire Armenian population of Cilicia. Thousands of Armenians from Marash were massacred in the city and during the flight. Some of the survivors sought refuge in Syria.
Armenian political parties continued to believe that with the help of the French, the separation of Cilicia from the crumbling Ottoman Empire and its autonomy under French protectorate would be possible.
On August 4, 1920, in Adana, the National Council headed by Mihran Damadian declared the independence of Cilicia: “From this day forward, we declare Cilicia a free country, completely independent of Turkey, with a Christian self-government and under the mandate of France.”
However, the French did not just renege on their promise. On August 5, the day after Cilicia declared its independence, the Armenians, led by Damadian, demanded that the same Bremon Damadian leave the government building in Adana when the governor and other Turkish officials left the building and occupied the region themselves. When the Armenians refused to comply with the demand of their supposed friends and allies, the French, Bremon himself came to the governor’s office and, under military threats, expelled Damadian from the building.
Watch the debate on Cilician independence on our YouTube channel.