Orange County Celebrates February Revolt of 1921

The Orange County Armenian community celebrated at the Harut Barsamian Community Center

SANTA ANA—The ARF Armen Karo Gomideh social committee organized the annual celebration of the heroic February Revolt of 1921. The Armenian Community of Orange County came out to the Harut Barsamian Community Center in Santa Ana to join in the celebration. Over 200 community members, including over 50 youth, gathered inside Ghazarian hall and viewed a presentation on the large screen dedicated to the Armenian people’s uprising in February 1921 against the Communist Bolsheviks, including the ARF’s role and Karekin Njdeh’s establishment of the Mountainous Republic of Armenia. In addition, photos of some of Armen Karo’s important activities were also shown such as the Ottoman Bank takeover, the defense of Tiflis, and Operation Nemesis.

The ARS Sevan Chapter prepared the home made dinner for the celebration and the organizing committee passed out a handout describing the importance of the February Revolt including a summary of some of Armen Karo’s greatest achievements.

ARF Armen Karo Gomideh Social Committee Chairwoman, Allise Panosyan welcomed the crowd and introduced Orange County ARF Chairman Garo R. Madenlian who addressed the audience. He explained that prior to the February Revolt the Bolsheviks had jailed, tortured, and killed many of the ARF leadership and intelligentsia, and pillaged much of the people’s crops and personal items; that the Revolt was a response to this savagery carried out by the Bolsheviks, many of whom were Armenian. He explained that when Yerevan was liberated on February 18, 1921, literary giants like Levon Shant and Nigol Aghbalian, and military heroes such as General Nazarbekian and Silikian were freed from the jails. He then reminded the audience of General Njdeh’s heroic efforts in Zangezour, which created a safe passage for many who would later play a major role in organizing the Diasporan Armenian communities worldwide, and thus all of our communities owe it to those who fought in 1921. He concluded by stating that all Armenians have a role to play in the future and should be guided by this heroic stance against injustice, a prime example of the ARF putting its principles into action; and together, not allowing anyone to trample on the rights of the Armenian people.

Shortly thereafter, Karnig Sarkissian took the stage. He energized and motivated the crowd with his rendition of Armenian national and patriotic songs, during which many participated and sang along. The celebration continued throughout the night and into the early morning hours.

The ARF Armen Karo Gomideh also announced to the crowd that the Azeri Consul will be speaking at UCI on February 27, and that further information will be provided via email so that everyone can participate.


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  1. Perouz Seferian said:

    I am sad that I did not know about this event in advance.

    My father, Misak Seferian was at the secret fedayee meeting that led to the February Revolt and documented it. There is an entire chapter in my forthcoming book, “Resistance: a diary of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1922, about the events leading up to, and after, the February Revolt. As well, my father fought alongside Nzhdeh. Nzhdeh asked for 300 Daronians for the struggle. My father was one of them. He was also one of those who were instrumental in freeing the prisoners in Yerevan. He has recorded a great deal of information not only about General Nazerbekian but many other generals, including Hovsepian, Areshov and Aghamalian that he fought under. He also documented battles he participated in with Antranig, Tro, Mourad of Sepastia, Soghomon Tehlirian and many other fedayees. Here are some short excerpts from that February Revolt taken from Chapter 4 of my book. This is a lengthy chapter, and these are all just short, incomplete excerpts. My father only wrote about what he actually witnessed or participated in, so this is all primary documentation.

    February 12, 1921: A secret meeting was convened in a dimly lit room adjacent to a stable in Magharjough. More than twenty-five renowned fighters from Moush and Sasoun had been invited to the meeting. The atmosphere was solemn, the air oppressive.

    “I announce that I am chairman of this meeting,” said Moushegh of Sasoun. We all turned toward our two group leaders, Mourad of Tsronsk and Moushegh of Sasoun. After looking silently around at those present, Moushegh said: “Dear compatriots; this meeting reminds me of the fedayee meetings we used to hold in Daron’s valleys, forests, stables, and sheds. Although we rarely had the opportunity to bring together as many compatriots as this in those places, the subject of this fedayee gathering is the same as our earlier ones.”

    Mourad of Tsronks spoke after Moushegh and said, “Compatriots, everything our chairman said, needed to be said. He has opened up the meeting, and we must now throw more light on the subject, study it, and make decisions accordingly. (paragraphs omitted here) “We know that from daylight on February 9, until the nightfall of February 10, our intellectuals, military men who had been spared exile, youths, and modestly well-to-do citizens were handcuffed and led to jail. We have reliable reports that they will be massacred. Organize yourselves without delay.”

    This information electrified the room. Everyone began to speak at once. After finally calming them all down, Moushegh gave everyone an opportunity to voice their opinion. (I am only including a few of their opinions here)

    “Death threatens our children in any case. If we don’t revolt, the Red army will crush the region of Alakyaz in four or five days. They’ll fill up their jails with us, just as Turkish gendarmes did. They’ll rape our women and girls. They’ll take away our means of surviving and our children will die of hunger. You know what I am saying is fact. The Red despots are already imprisoning, raping, and pillaging our families just a few miles away from us. We won’t be an exception, especially since the Armenian villages of Alakyaz are considered defiant. The Bolsheviks are centering their forces in Etchmiadzin in order to assault around Alakyaz Mountain this coming week.”
    (another opinion)
    “We are neither a state nor an organization that can first measure their ability and then engage the enemy accordingly. We are a disorganized mob revolting against an unbearable regime that was forced upon us. We must arm ourselves with spades, pick-axes, guns, and iron rods, and revolt wherever they wait for us with guns in their hands.”

    “You have all expressed the same intention,” said Moushegh. I will therefore put it to a vote. All those who want us to revolt against the Bolshevik regime, raise your hands.” Every hand was raised.

    Moushegh then asked for the number of armed compatriots who would respond if a signal for revolt went out. Our discussions continued until dark, when the participants gradually left the meeting.

    Bolsheviks attacked the villages of Alakyaz sooner than we expected. Since Red soldiers pursued and then imprisoned everyone they encountered, there was great difficulty in going from one village to another. In spite of this, our leaders were able to establish links in Armenia.

    On that same day, February 16, we received reports that a regiment of Bolsheviks, armed with two cannons and many machine guns, was going to assault the villages of Alakyaz on February 17. Our group leaders immediately sent a squad of advance guards to Kharadjalak and another squad to Talish.

    That evening, two hundred foot soldiers walked toward Yerevan. A lot of snow had fallen the previous day, but the weather was not cold. We did not have machine guns or cannons, but we had a great number of bullets. Led by the advance guards, we reached the vineyards of Yerevan before daylight. We were to remain here until we heard the results of other rebellions taking place, especially in Yerevan.

    At daylight on February 18, a battle took place on the southern side of the Zankou River. After a half-hour battle, the Reds firing at us moved toward the city in a disorganized manner. Compatriots coming from Kanaker joined us. Both the cavalry and foot squads coming from Etchmiadzin also joined in. Intense battle continued in the city streets. The enemy artillery opened fire on us from the railway station. Despite that, we rushed forward in order to go to the aid of our brothers and sisters, who were fighting in the streets with irons, knives, pistols, and every possible tool they could find to use as a weapon.

    The enemy fire against us intensified as we approached the city. Their barracks facing the bridge of Zankou had five machine guns that poured unremitting fire on us as soon as we approached the bridge.

    Marching victorious in the city on February 19, we opened a narrow path in the assembled crowd and went to the jail. With profound anguish, we saw the twenty-one corpses of our military men and intellectuals that the Chekists had slaughtered with axes before leaving Yerevan. Thousands of Armenians gathered around the jail, many weeping as they looked at the corpses, murmuring curses on the Chekist executioners.

    Nzhdeh’s men were holding the hills surrounding Ayarlou. All the Daronians left Keshishkend the next morning. After walking for four days, we reached Bazartchay. We stayed there for two weeks and then left for Datev. It was raining when we arrived.

    While going from Zankezour to Koghtan, we had to travel at such dangerously high elevations that, as previously noted, two of our men were lost in the precipice. It would have been suicide for our group of three hundred Daronians to remain at Koghtan and battle the Muslims and Bolsheviks of Sharour and Nakhichevan. For this reason, we decided to return to Zankezour when darkness fell.

    We were sent to Koghtan to fight against the Turks of Chertupat. We were also to go up to Julfa and defend the bridge there, so that the many thousands of exiled Armenian refugees fleeing to Persia would be able to pass over it.

    If you want to use any of this material, please contact me through Asbarez.

    • Tak Toudjian said:

      Heroic attempt to re-free Armenia. This diary seems extremely valuable : overdue to be published as a book. Thanks Perouz for letting us know of this detail. I would say it is as good as a historic document by an eyewitness.