Introduction to Social Democrat Hunchakian Party
The first Armenian revolutionary party, the Hunchakian party, was founded by a group of university students who wanted to awaken the national, social and democratic ideas in the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire. The main aim was to create an independent Armenian state by breaking the enslaving chains of "the sick man of Europe".
The "Hunchak" party ("Bell" in English), became synonymous to "awakening, enlightenment and freedom." This was also the name given to the Party's inaugural newspaper ("Hunchak",1887-1914).
It had been six centuries, since the Armenians lived under the domination of the Ottoman Turks within the Ottoman Empire. The conditions of life were unbearable to the safeguard of the Armenian national culture and their dignity as humans.
During the first half of the 19th century, with the emancipatory struggle of the Balkan peoples and the consequent European intervention, the conditions prevailing in Armenia worsened.
The Balkan revolt resulted in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the subsequent treaties of San Stefano and Berlin were signed. A paragraph in each treaty provided that the sublime Porte should carry out reform in Western Armenia.
The Turkish government did not implement these obligations and, taking advantage of the rivalry, embarked upon the massacres of more than 300,000 Armenians.
Social Democrat Hunchakian Party is the first Armenian revolutionary party, founded in Geneva, Switzerland in August 1887.
The Party's main objective was to break the enslaving chains of the Ottoman Turks and to create an independent Armenian state.
Led by its pioneers - Avetis Nazarbekian, Mariam Vardanian/Nazarbekian (Maro), Gevorg Gharadjian, Ruben Khan-Azat, Christopher Ohanian, Gabriel Kafian and Manuel Manuelian, the Party's inaugural newspaper, the "Hunchak" (meaning "Bell"' - to awaken the people) was published in November 1887.
The "Hunchak" publications were mainly heralded to the Armenian villagers and middle-class population as a means of educating them on their rights for independence, free speech and to alert them that the Turkish government will strive to exterminate the existence of Armenians within the Ottoman Empire and Western Armenia.
In seeking these ideologies, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party produced innumerable martyrs, like Mourad, Jirair, Paramaz and Sarkis Dkhrouni. Heroes today, because they had the foresight to raise these issues and alert the Armenian people at large. Sacrificing their own lives they held revolutionary uprisings in Kum Kapu (1890) followed by Sassoun, Zeitoun and Bab Ali (1895).
In 1915, seizing the opportunity offered by the First World War, the Turkish government began the planned extermination of the Armenians within the Ottoman Empire and Western Armenia. This was the first Genocide of the 20th century. More than 1.5 million Armenians had been massacred during this time.
In 1918, during the battle of Sartarabad, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party was represented by its own fighters and volunteers that repelled the Turkish forces from reaching Yerevan (the capital of Armenia). Similarly, in the early 1990s forces such as 'Medzn Mourad' were prominent in Shushi to liberate Gharapagh from the throes of Azerbaijan.