On the question of the Armenians of Western Armenia

  • by Western Armenia, November 24, 2023 in History

Murad and Arshak Jamalyan, who remained in the city after Yerznka's negotiations, convene a meeting in the leadership building in order to examine the created dangerous situation and guide the population.

In his speech, Jamalyan tells the gathering that the departing Russian army is leaving behind a huge stock of weapons and ammunition, and Armenians should arm themselves and replace the Russian soldiers. He also reports that Armenian military units are being created in the Caucasus, and a unit of about 40,000 Russian-Armenians has already been concentrated in Kars and Sarighamish.

However, Sebastazi Murad is skeptical about Jamalyan's words, telling the audience that he cannot believe and trust "Mr. Jamalyan's extravagant promises and assurances". Murad tells that near Mamakhatun he was not able to stop the departing Armenian soldiers who, leaving their weapons, hurried to the rear. According to Aram Amirkhanyan, Jamalyan also assured that the Turks have no more forces and they have barely 4,000 soldiers on the Qghi-Kemakh-Mamakhatun line. Two days after this meeting, Jamalyan left for Alexandropol, and from there to Tiflis.

The first information about the exposure of the front reached Tiflis in mid-December. General Leakhov telegraphed from Yerznka that although he managed to form several Armenian companies, they refused to go to positions. In Tiflis, this information is treated with skepticism.

General Leakhov met Sebastatsi Murad in the middle of November and informed that it is no longer possible to keep the Russian soldiers in positions, and no one will be left on the border by the end of the year. He proposed to accept the reserves of the Russian army and to form Armenian units at any cost to maintain the front. The general said that they did not have the opportunity to take the weapons and food with them when they left, which would be enough for a 60,000-strong military unit for about a year.

Do everything for protection

After Jamalyan's departure, Murad started to organize the Armenian units. 1917 on December 3, he gathers Armenians aged 13-70 in the school square and calls them to do everything for the defense of the country.

"If we Armenians can't take advantage of such a convenient opportunity, we will find ourselves completely lost and we will open the grave of the nation with our own hands. Starting today, every Armenian who has the ability to carry a weapon is a soldier and is obliged to serve the nation, protecting the Motherland."

Immediately after the meeting, about 500 young people volunteered, and some of them, under the leadership of non-commissioned officer Danielyan, were sent to the southeastern border of Yerznka, which was almost unprotected. On the instructions of General Leakhov, the military warehouses are handed over to the Armenians.

Each soldier is given one Mosin rifle, camouflage boots, a coat, underwear and other military equipment, as well as 300 bullets and 3 grenades (undertaking). The Russian military stores were so abundant that they began to distribute food to the refugees as well.

1917 at the end of December, after the departure of General Leakhov, the management of Yerznka convenes a meeting again, where the issue of relations with the Turks and Kurds remaining in the city is discussed. It is decided to cooperate with the Kurds of Dersim and Derjan in order to prevent their possible unification with the Turks. The Turks of the city are disarmed and forbidden to leave the settlement in order not to provide secret information to the enemy. On December 27, Murad invited the apparent Turks of the city to him and told them that from now on they should submit to the Armenian government of the city. The Turks give a promise of loyalty and leave with satisfaction. In order to implement the adopted decisions, Murad also establishes an intelligence service headed by Gevorg Chulcyan. He was able to collect information about the Kurds and Turks, arrested the disorderly and monitored the internal stability of the city.

To be continued...