Social Democrat Henchak Party Program - 1887
The program of Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (1887), may be summarised as follows:
I. The ideological impact of the times led to a new view of society. The Party could penetrate into current world conditions and see the inequalities that existed everywhere. The vast majority of the people were being oppressed and exploited by a small minority, who by virtue of their privileged positions were able to control and rule the impoverished masses.
To achieve full and real freedom for this large majority, it was imperative to establish a new order based on humanitarian and socialistic principles. The present state of affairs had to be destroyed by means of a revolution. Then, on the ashes of the old society, a new one might be built, based upon "economic truths" and "socialistic justice".
II. The immediate objective of the party was the political and national independence of Turkish Armenia. The conditions of the Armenians in Asiatic Turkey were described and the need to concentrate Hunchak activities in this area was explained. Here was set forth also the exploitation of the Armenians by the government, the aristocracy, and the capitalists through high taxes, land seizure, and the deprivation of the fruits of labour. Besides these injustices, the people were shorn of their political rights and were forced to remain silent in their position as slaves of their parasitic overlord. They were not free to worship as they pleased and lived forever in fear of marauding tribesmen. In order to save the Armenians from slavery, the S.D. Hunchakian Party proposed to direct them on the road to socialism and to work toward their immediate objective, the Freedom of Turkish Armenia.
After the immediate objective had been realised, certain political and economic aims were to be put into operation.
The political aims of S.D.Hunchakian Party:
1. A perpetual popular Legislative Assembly elected in free elections by universal and direct suffrage. The voters were to have full powers in regard to all national administrative questions.
a. The peoples' representatives are to be elected from all ranks of society.
b. The seat of the Legislative Assembly is to be one of the important cities of Armenia.
2. Extensive provincial autonomy.
3. Extensive communal autonomy.
a. Concerning points two and three- the people are to have the authority to elect all
4. Every individual, without distinction of position or wealth, is to have the right to hold office.
5. Complete freedom of press, speech, conscience, assembly, organisations, and electoral agitation.
6. The person and home of every individual is to be inviolable.
7. Universal military service.
The economic aims of the party was determined after careful investigation into the needs and desires of the people. Two economic objectives are described in the program. These are the establishment of a progressive system of taxation above a certain income bracket and a system of universal compulsory education.
III. The Hunchakian program advocated revolution as the only means of reaching the immediate objective. The arena of revolutionary activity was designed as Turkish Armenia. The Party believed that the existing social organisation in Turkish Armenia could be changed by violence against the Turkish government and described the following methods. Propaganda, Agitation, Terror, Organisation, and Peasant and Worker Activities.
Propaganda was to be directed to the people to educate them toward two goals: The basic reasons and the proper time for revolution against the government; The social order that was to be established after the successful revolution.
Agitation and Terror were needed to "elevate the spirit of the people". Demonstrations against the government, refusal to pay taxes, demands for reforms, and hatred of the aristocracy were part of the party's agitation campaign. Terror was to be used as a method of protecting the people and winning their confidence in the Hunchak program.
The Organisation of the party was to be centralised system directed by a central executive committee. The revolution could not be won by the participation of the party organisation alone. It was absolutely essential to win the active support of the peasants and workers. The peasants and workers were to protect the gains and interests of the people, and were to take the reins of government and rule according to democratic principles.
IV. The most opportune time to institute the general rebellion for carrying out the immediate objective was when Turkey was engaged in war.
The non-Armenians of Turkish Armenia were not overlooked. The party declared that in order to better the condition of the non-Armenians, it was necessary to get the sympathy of other minorities, such as the Assyrians and Kurds, for the revolutionary cause.
V. The final part of the program pointed out that the greatest number of Armenians lived in Turkish Armenia, and that the area also comprised the largest part of historic Armenia. Here the majority of the Armenian people were living under the impossible conditions imposed by their Ottoman rulers, as the Great Powers had recognised when they sanctioned reform in Turkish Armenia in Article LXI (61) of the Treaty of Berlin.
These considerations led the Party to demand that all revolutionary forces devote themselves to winning the independence of Turkish Armenia. The Party cautioned its followers against the selfish interests of other powers in regard to this region, and predicted that, after the fall of already bankrupt Ottoman regime, the European Powers would systematically carve up the empire, including Turkish Armenia, for themselves. Hence the Party again restated its "immediate objective"- the political independence of Turkish Armenia.
After the independence of Turkish Armenia, the revolution would then be extended into the Russian and Persian dominated areas of Armenia, with the purpose of establishing a politically independent Armenian federative democratic republic composed of Turkish, Russian, and Persian Armenia.
Two predominant objectives were revealed in the program. The immediate objective was the independence of Turkish Armenia; the future objective was Socialism. These two objectives were complimentary. The Hunchakian Party was the first and only Armenian political party in the nineteenth century whose program unambiguously demanded an independent and unified Armenian Republic, and beyond this, a socialistic order for all the peoples of the world. The program of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party was both socialistic and nationalistic.