Social Democrat Hunchakian Party
|Leader||Harry Hampartzoum Sarafian|
|Founders||Avetis Nazarbekian, Mariam Vardanian, Gevorg Gharadjian, Ruben Khan-Azat, Christopher Ohanian, Gabriel Kafian and Manuel Manuelian|
|Newspaper||see Party Publications / Organs|
|Youth wing||Gaidz Youth Organization|
|Membership||4,300 (in Armenia)|
|National affiliation||March 14 alliance|
|International affiliation||None, formerly Second International|
|Parliament of Lebanon||
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|History of Armenia|
The Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (SDHP) (Armenian: Սոցիալ Դեմոկրատ Հնչակյան Կուսակցություն; ՍԴՀԿ), is the second oldest Armenian political party, founded in 1887 by a group of college students in Geneva, Switzerland. It was the first socialist party to operate in the Ottoman Empire and in Persia. Among its founders were Avetis Nazarbekian, Mariam Vardanian, Gevorg Gharadjian, Ruben Khan-Azat, Christophor Ohanian, Gabriel Kafian and Manuel Manuelian. Its original goal was attaining Armenia's independence from the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian national liberation movement.
The party is also known as Hentchak, Henchak, Social-Democratic Hentchaks, Huntchakians, Hnchakian, Henchags, its name is taken from its newspaper Hunchak, meaning "Clarion" or "Bell", and is taken by party members to represent "a call or awakening, for enlightenment and freedom."
All seven founders of the party were Russian Armenian Marxist students who had left Russian Armenia to further their education in various universities of Western Europe. They were young, in their twenties, and supported by their affluent bourgeois families. They were influenced by social-democratic revolutionary ideology, contacted Frederick Engels, Georgi Plekhanov and later Vladimir Lenin. Mariam Vardanian had worked with Russian revolutionaries in Saint Petersburg. For the purpose of furthering revolutionary activity in Turkish Armenia, they formed the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party in August, 1887. The party's manifesto, printed in the first issue of Hunchak journal, contained this slogan: "Those who cannot attain freedom through revolutionary armed struggle are unworthy of it".
Hunchak party fought many battles against the Ottoman Empire, to free the Armenian people from Turkish rule. During this period, many famous intellectuals joined Hunchakian party, including Hovhannes Tumanian, Ghazaros Aghayan, Smpad Piurad, Atrpet and Aram Andonian. One of Armenia's famous national heroes Andranik Ozanian, at first, joined the Hunchak party, but disagreement with party policies led Andranik to leave the Hunchak ranks and join the Dashnak party and on to the Armenian Democratic Liberal Ramgavar Party.
While Dashnaktsutyun sought “reforms within the framework of Ottoman Empire”, the Hunchakian party favored an independent Armenian state. Hunchak was the official organ of Hunchakians. In 1894 in Athens and London the party published a socialist scientific monthly, Gaghapar, which for the first time published "The Communist Manifesto" in Armenian, translated by Avetis and Mariam Nazarbekians. The First General Conference of Hunchakian party took place in London, in September 1896.
In the Caucasus the Hunchakian party has also played a prominent role, it combated the russification policy of Viceroy Galitzin, the Russian governor of Caucasus. In 1903 Paramaz organized the assassination attempt of Golitsin. Paramaz was also one of the organizers of self-defence troops during the Armenian-Tatar massacres of 1905-06.
Activities in the Ottoman Empire
On July 27, 1890, Hunchakian activists Harutiun Jangülian, Mihran Damadian and Hambartsum Boyajian headed Kum Kapu Affray in Constantinople, which demanded the implementation of reforms in the Western Armenian provinces. In the early 1890s frequent clashes between the Armenian inhabitants of Sason and the Turkish forces took place because of Sassontsis' refusal to pay retroactive taxes to the Turkish government.
In 1913 Hunchakian leader Paramaz participated in the 7th Conference of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party in Constanţa, where he represented the idea of assassination of Ittihad leaders. But on June 15, 1915 Paramaz with 19 other his comrades were hanged in the central square of Constantinople.
- Defense of Van: (June, 1896)
- Khanasor Expedition: (July 25, 1897)
- Zeitun Resistance: (August 30, 1914 - December 1, 1914 and March 25, 1915)
- Siege of Van: (April 19, 1915 - May 6, 1915)
- Shabin-Karahisar uprising: (June 2, 1915 - June 30, 1915)
First Republic of Armenia
The party also played a role in the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia, as party members took part in the Battle of Sardarapat in 1918, which defended the Armenian capital Yerevan from the Army of Islam of the Ottoman Empire.
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic
After the takeover of the Armenian communists of power in Armenia in 1921 and dissolving of the Democratic Republic of Armenia, and the declaration of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, all political parties apart from the Armenian Communist Party were forbidden. Thus the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, alongside all the other Armenian traditional political parties effectively became a party of the Armenian diaspora only.
But the party remained in general a supporter of the development of the Armenian SSR for many decades, in sharp contrast to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) that remained opposed to the Communist regime in Armenia. This resulted at many times in feuds and rift between the Hunchaks and the Dashnaks in many centers of the Armenian diaspora, a situation becoming worse with religious differences, with the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party supporting Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the ARF supporting the Holy See of Cilicia. In these conflicts, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party was seen as a political ally on the side of the SDHP and in opposition to the ARF.
Activities in Lebanon
In the 1950s, it clashed, sometimes violently, with the Dashnak Party, due to tensions that escalated when the ARF elected Bishop Zareh as Zareh I, Catholicos of Cilicia, a move that was rejected by the Hunchaks. This period was characterized by an escalation of conflict between the ARF on one side, and the SDHP and the ally ADL (Ramgavars) on the other side.
In the midst of increasing sectarian strife in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which led to the Lebanese Civil War, however, Lebanon's Armenian community began to close ranks, and in 1972, the Hunchakian Party ran a joint ticket with the Dashnaks. In 2000, the Hunchakian Party joined forces with Rafik Hariri's Future Movement, which swept the city of Beirut. SDHP Central Committee Member Dr Yeghia Jerejian was a member of Lebanese Parliament for many years. Currently the party is represented in the parliament by Sebouh Kalpakian.
In 1991 Yeghia Najarian headed SDHP organization in independent Armenia and founded "Hnchak Hayastani" official organ. In the early 1990s, the party took part in the self-defense of Zangezur (Paramaz battalion) and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (Jirair-Mourad battalion led by Gevorg Guzelian). The party formed part of the Armenian opposition and had a representative at the National Assembly of Armenia.
The party is also active in the Armenian diaspora and in Lebanon as well, where it competes for the six National Assembly seats reserved for ethnic Armenians. The party subscribes to a socialist ideology and advocates a planned economy for Lebanon. Social Democrat Hunchakian Party has an official newspaper in Lebanon which is the Ararad daily newspaper.
The Hunchakian party has established affiliate organizations such as the AGBU which is an organization that helps with educational, health and social care, the Armenian Dkhrouhi Youth Association (founded in 1952, in Beirut), the Gaidz Youth Organization (founded in 1910, in Constantinople), Nor Serount Cultural Association (founded in 1954, in Beirut), and HMM (Homenmen) which is an independent sporting organization but strongly affiliated with the SDHP (not to be confused with Homenetmen considered largely affiliated with the ARF).
Hunchak (also Hnchak, Hentchak, "Bell" in Armenian) was the official organ of the party. It was founded by Avetis Nazarbekian and published in 1887-1915, 1935–1940, in France, Greece, Britain and United States. The main purpose of the paper was the propagand of the Armenian national movement for the liberation, the resistance in Western Armenian regions. Hunchak also supported the ideology of social-democracy and worker's consolidation.
Present-day party publications include:
- Ararad daily newspaper published in Beirut, Lebanon
- Tchahagir weekly published in Cairo, Egypt
- Massis Weekly and MassisPost.com published in Los Angeles
- Nor Serounti Tsayn (Voice of Nor Serount) published in London, UK
- Zank Armenian Journal, Australia
- (Armenian) Յուրաքանչյուր երկրորդ չափահաս հայաստանցին կուսակցակա՞ն
- Social Democrat Hunchakian Party
- Lebanon a Country Study By Federal Research Division - Page 185
- Chalabian, Antranig. General Andranik and the Armenian Revolutionary Movement. Southfield, Michigan: Antranig Chalabian, 1988. ISBN 0-9622741-1-9, p. 58
- Andranikological Review, Yerevan, #1 (3), 2003, p. 7.
- The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, by Richard G. Hovannisian, Transaction Publishers, 2009 – p.
- Партия Гнчакян считает недостаточным прогресс в деле укрепления демократии Armenia Today, 20.09.2013
- Armenian Athletic Association Homenmen
- Dekhrouni Student and Youth Association
- Gaidz Youth Organization
- Nor Serount Cultural Association
- Ararad daily newspaper, party organ in Lebanon
- Massis Weekly, official party organ, Western USA
- Massis Post, is a daily online publication of Massis Weekly