100th Anniversary of Historic Armed Resistance

Chork-Marzban (Dort-Yol)

By Minas Kojayan PhD, Van Nuys, California, 11 September 2008

Many of the descendents of the residents of Chork-Marzban who are now spread all over the world teasingly wish one another to one day taste the oranges of Chork-Marzban and experience the sweetness of the warm breeze flowing from the mountains of Adana. Their dreams to return are still alive.In the past, numerous works have been published depicting the historical past, national traditions, lifestyle, customs, dialects and heroic resistance efforts of historical Armenia and other Armenian-inhabited villages and regions.In the past, numerous works have been published depicting the historical past, national traditions, lifestyle, customs, dialects and heroic resistance efforts of historical Armenia and other Armenian-inhabited villages and regions.

Some of the intellectuals of Chork-Marzban attempted to do the same in their humble memoirs and publications. Unfortunately, the three heroic resistance battles of Chork-Marzban and the surrounding villages have failed to be mentioned in textbooks. I would like to point out that this conference organized at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is the first intellectual gathering where mention has been made of the heroic battles of Chork-Marzban and the surrounding towns of Ozerli, Ojakle and Najarle.

Chork-Marzban (Dort-Yol)

By Minas Kojayan PhD, Van Nuys, California, 11 September 2008

Many of the descendents of the residents of Chork-Marzban who are now spread all over the world teasingly wish one another to one day taste the oranges of Chork-Marzban and experience the sweetness of the warm breeze flowing from the mountains of Adana. Their dreams to return are still alive.In the past, numerous works have been published depicting the historical past, national traditions, lifestyle, customs, dialects and heroic resistance efforts of historical Armenia and other Armenian-inhabited villages and regions.In the past, numerous works have been published depicting the historical past, national traditions, lifestyle, customs, dialects and heroic resistance efforts of historical Armenia and other Armenian-inhabited villages and regions.

Some of the intellectuals of Chork-Marzban attempted to do the same in their humble memoirs and publications. Unfortunately, the three heroic resistance battles of Chork-Marzban and the surrounding villages have failed to be mentioned in textbooks. I would like to point out that this conference organized at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is the first intellectual gathering where mention has been made of the heroic battles of Chork-Marzban and the surrounding towns of Ozerli, Ojakle and Najarle.

Historical sources are extremely meager with respect to the history of this region, and there is hardly any useful information. The population of Chork-Marzban and the surrounding villages consisted of individuals who had settled there from various regions of Cilicia and Armenia. According to the dominant belief among this population, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they had settled in the area from various provinces of the Bagradouni Dynasty. Chork-Marzban, whether by its Armenian name or Turkish Dort-Yol, became known within the Armenian realm in the late 19th century, particularly with the advancement of the harvesting of citrus fruits. The names of the town and surrounding regions also became more familiar following the initial attempts of self-defense during the massacres of Abdul Hamid.

 

THE First HEROIC RESISTANCE

The first armed self-defense tactic of Chork-Marzban is one example of the mismatched armed struggle of the Armenians against Sultan Hamid’s bloodthirsty policies of the 1890s, as well as against the Turkish-Kurdish-Cherkez tribes and those who had been exiled from the liberated territories of the Ottoman empire.

During the first battle Chork-Marzban was well prepared and was saved from annihilation thanks to a group of “outsider” revolutionaries and their followers from Chork-Marzban.

Memoirs from Chork-Marzban credit the passionate and devoted Jirair Boyajian from Hajin. Along with his sister, he took on the task of Armenian instruction in the town. Initiated by Jirair, a National Council was formed. Jirair secretly devoted himself to the military training of the young men, teaching them to hold weapons, aim, etc.

Khacher Karayakubian, a student of Jirair, described those days with youthful excitement in his unpublished handwritten memoirs. “The students in the upper two classes were his main focus. The students in the fifth and sixth grades fell in love with him. We began to worship him.”

The most noteworthy in the first battle were Jirair’s students, such as Vahan Balian, Kerovpe and Yeremiah Der Stepanian, Boghos Tughleian, Avedis (Vahram) Keshishian, Missak, Kevork and Karnig Geoghlanians, Rupen, Dikran, Vahan and Puzant Balians, Mugurdich (Meroujan) Keheian, Hovhannes (Khosrov) Karasarkisian, Hovsep Kuchuk Sarkisian, Mugurdich Shakelian, Gagig Balian,  Khacher Kara-Vartanian,  Hovhannes Der Kevorkian (later Fr. Sahag Der Kevorkian), Barnes Der Kevorkian, Hagop (Baret) and Khacher Vasilians, Hampartsoum Rupenian, Iskender Balian, Manouk Tenkerian, Mugurdich (Bebek) Majarian, Nazaret Peltekian, Yervant Der Sdepanian, Sarkis Balian etc. As you noticed, some names are in brackets. These were names given by Jirair to the young freedom fighters for security reasons.

 It was Jirair’s routine to take his students to nearby hills where he would motivate them with patriotic speeches. He would then mix the blood of their little fingers making them blood brothers, following which he would give them new Armenian names.

Two members of the Henchakian Party, Vartan Akhigian and Mekho Shahen (Mekhitar Seferian) produced militarily-driven members of Chork-Marzban with their speeches, particularly thanks to their efforts to instill a sense of national awareness and pride within the young men.

During the days of Sultan Hamid’s violence patriots who were aware of the tragedy awaiting Western and Cilician Armenians tried to convince the young men that massacres were near and pleaded for them to take the necessary measures for self-defense. The men fervently and secretly went to work relying on bribery and other such means to get their hands on gunpowder, weapons and ammunition. Most prominent in this effort was Bedoyan Bedig, a courageous young man, who succeeded in bringing about 45 kilograms of precious gunpowder from Eybez.

On November 12, 1895 the Turkish mob began to gather in Turkish villages around Chork-Marzban and other predominantly Armenian villages, with the intention of attacking, plundering and massacring the residents. The same morning the Armenians of Ojakle and Ozerli fled to Chork-Marzban in order to avoid a deadly encounter. With the command and under the leadership of Mekho Shahen a group of daring young men left to take the first military action and to receive their first baptism on the battlefield.

After plundering Armenian homes and farms in both Ozerli and Ojakle, the Turks burned the homes. The crackling of the flames could be heard as far as Chork-Marzban.

The Turkish and Kurdish mob was not satisfied with torching uninhabited villages, and thus attacked Chork-Marzban. The mob was greeted by the open fire of the defenders of Chork-Marzban. Mekho Shahen not only led the resistance but also personally participated in the battle. As the men opened fire from their locations, Mekho Shahen jumped from one location to the other firing with his long-range weapon, giving the Turks the impression that the Armenians were armed with several long-range weapons.

By the evening more than 10,000 Armenians had fled to Chork-Marzban and had found refuge in the homes of the locals.

The next day the Turks attempted a second try. They tried to advance by way of the marketplace. As if on their way to a Jihad, those marching in front let out deafening sounds of drums, howling, and gunfire in an attempt to scare the “giavours”. Under the command of expert marksman Vahan Chojuk and the leadership of Mekho Shahen a group of men armed with hunting guns managed to force the Turkish mob to retreat. The battle was imbalanced. Chanting the name of Mohammed they slowly approached the church and the homes of the Lower Chork Marzban and managed to burn some of them. At that moment Mekho emerged from his hiding place like an enraged lion and mixed with a small group of the mob. He yelled and screamed in Kurdish and invited the mob towards the Armenian front. By the time the Turks were not aware of the game, 14-15 year old Hovhannes Shakelian killed the first Turk. Shahen returned to his position and from there with his group was able to force the rest to retreat.

In the days that followed the Turks made a few more futile attempts to prove their superiority but were not successful and lost more lives. Seventy-year-old Agilen Karavartanian, Mani Oglu Kevork, Vahan Balian, and Krikor Tomboulian stood out with their bravery and devotion. It is interesting to note the strange behavior of a Turkish battalion roundabout that week. Since November 12 that battalion had put up tents on the northern side of Chork-Marzban, however they did not participate at all in the fighting; rather they took on the role of spectators.

It is noted in memoirs that a British naval ship was expected to arrive for help around this time, and the fighters of Chork-Marzban were to join the British in freeing Cilicia. No such ship came, however, but apparently an American ship came to rescue Dr. Hovhannes Khachadourian (Peltekian) who with his American wife and children had just arrived to visit relatives. This incident did not go unnoticed and left a positive influence on the bloody events of 1896.

Only on the eighth day of self-defense, on November 20, did Rezmi Pasha, the Mutasarref (governor) of Jebel Bereket arrive in Chork-Marzban with a group of soldiers and Giragos Efendi, an elder of Hasan Beyli. The clever strategist did not want to see a lucrative town in his jurisdiction such as Chork-Marzban, particularly one by the sea, burned down like Zeitun and the surrounding regions. Thus he informed the Turkish mob and later the Armenians to stop the fighting. The governor sent Giragos Efendi of Hasan Beyli to Chork-Marzban and began the negotiations with the appeal of the clergy of both sides.

The summary of eight days of self-defense is as follows.

a.     LOSSES

1.     Armenian homes in Ozelri and Ojakle were seriously damaged.

2.     Several residents of the other villages were wounded. Three from Chork-Marzban lost their lives, as well as a few farmers from the other villages who had stayed in their farms.

3.     Several homes near the “Lower Neighborhood” Church were burned.

4.     Upon pressure from the Ottomans Mekho Shahen and Vartan Akhigian quietly left town and went to Cyprus.

b.    ADVANTAGES

1.     Armenians of the entire region, around 20,000 in number, were rescued.

2.     The lucrative marketplace was saved.

3.     The Armenians gained valuable experience in self-defense.

4.     Armenian morale was lifted, as they became more confident in their own strength.

 

THE Second ARMED RESITANCE of Chork-Marzban

The second or Great Battle of Chork-Marzban was the direct consequence of the confusion and chaos that arose during 1908, between the Young Turks overthrowing the Sultan, the return of the Sultan and the regaining of power by the Young Turks. It is during this time that Chork-Marzban and the neighboring villages put forth a great effort of resistance which earned the acclaim of Siamanto and Zabel Esayan, bringing further fame to the name of Chork-Marzban within the intellectual circles of Istanbul.

In the days preceding the Great Battle of Chork-Marzban the “sister political parties” coexisted with exemplary harmony. The Reformed Hnchakian Party and the Sahmanadir Ramkavars were fairly popular in the town. The Dashnak Party became better known in 1908, in association with the name of Mihran Der Melkonian. Eyewitnesses testify that Mihran was an eloquent speaker and had his followers. During the second better-known armed resistance, Mihran became a key figure. It was this harmony that would bear fruit in the days when life and death hung in the balance.

Sunday, March 29, 1909 on the old calendar was the Feast of the Holy Resurrection (April 11 on the new calendar). The mood was a bit more cheerful than previous years as the political situation of the Ottoman government promised its people reforms, fraternity and equality…. On the morning of Tuesday, March 31 the dark news of Sultan Abdul-Hamid’s return was heard and the Young Turks had fled. This caused the Vali of Adana, a member of the Young Turks, to become desperate and confused. Hagop Karahagopian, the Armenian representative in the Ezrin region which contained Chork-Marzban, who had been in Adana during the past two months, heard news of the tragedy that was awaiting the Armenians from rumors and his friends in the Ittihad Party. He secretly sent news to Chork-Marzban to begin preparations immediately, and on his way he acquired gunpowder, guns, and anything else he could manage to find. He and his colleague Keuroglian, predicted what was about to happen and hurried to Chork-Marzban.

Upon reaching the town they called the elders to a meeting. The townspeople were given a warning not to leave the boundaries of the city, and farmers were informed to quickly return home.

In the morning of Wednesday, April 1 the massacre in Adana began, during which no lives were spared, including women, children and newborns. The next day the massacres spread to the regions of Cilicia, and the looting, destruction and massacre reached Chork-Marzban. The farms and cultivation spanning northeast of Adana, in the region of Jihan and its surroundings, as well as in Chork-Marzban were plundered and farmers brutally murdered.

Orders to destroy farms came from Asafbeg, the governor of Erzin, and the perpetrators were the Turks from Turunclu who had settled there from Grete. Their motive was so they could claim and settle in Armenian homes, putting an end to their migrant status.

Forty-eight Armenian farmers lost their lives in the bloody attack, most from Ojakle, including Fr. Boghos who was performing Easter house. The Turks bound the Armenians and took them to nearby Leche, where they brutally murdered them; the sole survivor was Garabed who managed to escape and return to Chork-Marzban. The belfries of the Upper and the Lower Chork Marzban Churches began to toll, warning the population to prepare for self-defense.

To make the operation more efficient the National Council of elders and the Armed Operations Command were formed. With the help of the imam of the neighboring Turkish village, the Armenian population of Najarle fled to Chork-Marzban. At the same time ten points of observation were designated and several mounted messengers assigned. The Armenians of Ojakle and Ozerli reached Chork-Marzban by noon. At Noon the same day the Turkish mob attacked the churches and homes of Ojakle and Ozerli, and looted and burned them. Upon the decree of the Operations Command the marketplace was closed, and by the order of the Secret Committee of Self-Defense, the Turkish residents of “Sara” (the government building and the surroundings) and the marketplace were taken hostage, putting Turkish homes under strict observation.

And thus, the Armenians decided not to remain obedient slaves. At daybreak on Friday, April 3 Chork-Marzban was already on its feet, while the guards had stood watch all night. Messengers and the leaders of the operation were designated, and guard units were assigned to the entrances, gates and boundaries of the town. Female volunteers were called who under the leadership of Dr. Movsesian and the regional Red Cross would tend to the wounded. There are historical accounts of the self-defense of Chork-Marzban by Arshagouhi Teotig and Zabel Yessayan who were sent to Cilicia a month later to observe the devastating results of the massacres of Cilicia.

Night and day patrol units were formed to protect the marketplace and the shops. A Military Tribunal was also created which upon the agreement of the leaders of the families, consisted of the prominent leaders of the town.

Relying on the expertise of the town carpenters, the residents of Chork-Marzban carved three canons from the bark of oak trees, which were to be used to scare the mob. At the same time they began work on preparing gunpowder using their own resources, and repaired the guns. Simultaneously, two of the fifty-seven Turks left in town were sent to Erzin, the center of the region, to ask Asaf Pasha for help from the government. The delegates did not return, leaving the residents of Chork-Marzban without a response and solely dependent on their own strength.

The commanders decided to secretly send delegates to Iskenderoun, who would appeal to the European consuls for help. The task was entrusted to Mihran Der Melkonian. Although Mihran’s attempt was futile, he proved to be extremely helpful in greeting the fleeing Armenians from Najarle. In the days that followed Mihran became one of the central heroes of Chork-Marzban’s self-defense.

From Saturday, April 4 until cease-fire on April 18 the residents of Chork-Marzban fought daily with life and death on the balance. Some of the most noteworthy moments were the battles to secure the water reservoirs. The devoted fighters were successful in stopping the Turks’ attempt to maintain control on the reservoirs. Mihran came out as the main hero in this event. With their modern equipment the mob also attempted to destroy the marketplace, however the brave locals did not allow them to succeed. In their haste to escape following one of their attempts the Turks dropped their weapons on the “battlefield”.

To disorient and frighten the tenfold force the Armenians appealed to military cleverness. They directed the oak canons towards the oncoming mob, and terrorized them with the powerful sound resonating from them. In regards to the Armenians’ military cleverness it is also noteworthy to mention the march organized by Kerovpe Der Stepanian, Megerdich Shakelian, and Merujan Keheyan, whereby around two hundred girls and women holding long canes marched along the streets of Chork-Marzban, giving the impression of hundreds of forces having come to the aid of the Armenians.

Back in Istanbul the Young Turks had been successful in reclaiming power, but the mob pretended to be unaware. Meanwhile, the residents of a neighboring town Hasanbeyli who had asked Chork-Marzban for help safely arrived in Chork-Marzban and lent their help in attacking the predominantly Kurdish village of Guzulucu Torun. Several uniformed soldiers from the Ottoman army were also among the Kurds. This attack became one of the most significant episodes in the Great Battle of Chork-Marzban, as the prey became the attacker and delivered a valuable lesson to the bloodthirsty enemy.

The decisive battle came to an end with the victory of the Armenians. Although the people of Chork-Marzban lost two soldiers and had three wounded, they returned having taught the enemy a lesson and having successfully performed the sacred task entrusted to them with utmost pride.

The desperate Mutasarref Asaf Beg sent a letter from Erzin in which he warned the Armenians to surrender if they did not wish to be subjected to more forceful punishments. To his letter he had also attached a letter from the Mufti. “It is a sin against God to raise your guns against Islam. Surrender, so that those who are guilty may be distinguished and punished, and the elderly, innocent and children may be saved. Be aware that if you do not surrender, then upon the command of the prophet your lives, belongings and assets will justly be claimed by the Muslims, as you have rebelled against the king.”

Thus more dire days awaited Chork-Marzban and so the commanders of the town decided to employ stricter rules in rationing water and food, to the extent that each fighter and resident was allowed to drink “one demitasse of water”.

A second even stronger attack was organized against the town marketplace. Following unwavering battles in which even some women participated including Mikel Geze (Mikayel’s daughter) and Annig Der Kevorkian, the mob retreated.

The commanders of Chork-Marzban made a second attempt to send word to Alexandria in regards to the agonizing battles of the Armenians. On April 16 the Armenian messengers who had arrived in Alexandria performed a vital task. Along with Pastor Fr. Krikor and the local leaders they explained the situation of Chork-Marzban’s self defense and the threatening danger awaiting the town. Led by Fr. Kevork the delegates immediately approached Mr. Katony, the British Consul and described their situation. The latter promised to do his best and intervene. To gain yet another mediator on their side he even spoke to the commander of the British naval ship docked in the harbor of Alexandria and explained to him the state of affairs in Chork-Marzban. On Friday, April 17, the two commanders, Mr. Katony, British missionary Mr. Kenneth, Fr. Krikor and other Armenian leaders, the Mufti of Alexandria and several Turk leaders boarded a ship and went off to the open waters of Chork-Marzban.

In the early stages of Armenian-Turkish negotiations the Turks suggested the following strict and unacceptable terms:

1.     The Armenians must surrender their weapons and barracks.

2.     The “outsiders” fighting in Chork-Marzban must leave immediately.

The Armenians stood firm on their position and refused to accept the conditions suggested by the Turks. They offered their counter terms.

1.     We do not want to fall in the trap of the treacherous mob.

2.     Our weapons will remain with us, but we will not open fire on the Turks.

3.     We have built the barracks with our own resources and will surrender it only to the formal army.

4.     We have no outsiders fighting among our ranks.

To further aid the Armenians on Saturday, April 18 the English left for Adana and informed the head vali of the Armenians’ situation. Italian, French and German naval ships reached the harbor of Alexandria during the same time. The admiral of the Italian ship Filomen called upon the Turkish commander of Alexandria and demanded that the mob retreat immediately, otherwise he would bombard the surrounding Turkish villages. Having comprehended the seriousness of the Admiral’s demands, the Turk commander pleaded to the Admiral to wait until the next morning, as the government in Istanbul had ordered the army to send two battalions to Chork-Marzban in order to mediate an accord. The warning had a serious impact because a fleet of small Turkish ships appeared at sea and together with the Turkish commander proceeded towards the harbor of Chork-Marzban.
 

Cease-fire and treaty

The “international pressure”, although weak, had their positive influence on upcoming events. The next day the Young Turks sent a military official named Kiliades Efendi from Adana with a special mission, bringing along an infantry unit. The elders were immediately called to a meeting in the governmental building. The delegate sent by the Vali of Adana urged the people of Chork-Marzban to not involve Britain in internal affairs, and second, to rest assured and trust the “Ittihad ve Terakke” Party.

That same day a lunch meeting was held during which the following points were placed under consideration.

1.     Chork-Marzban must continue to remain the center of Gaza (a province). Instead of a Turk a Greek Kaymakam (provincial leader) will be assigned as a vicar to the governor.

2.     Expansion of the barracks and an increase in the number of staff

3.     Expansion of the telegraph office on the first floor of the government building in Chork-Marzban to convert it into a post/telegraph office

4.     Expansion of the main road in Chork-Marzban which connects to the wide crossroad of Toprakgale-Payas-Alexandria, and the construction of a railroad station near the intersection by European countries.

5.     The construction of a small harbor to ease the export of 80 million oranges from Chork-Marzban

Aside from the abovementioned reforms promised to the Armenians, the governor of Adana also granted several community and national rights.

1.     Certain humanitarian, religious and educational institutions are allowed to exist (Red Cross hospital, Kelegian Orphanage).

2.     Pastors may deliver the Sermon in Armenian on feast days such as the New Year, Christmas, Diarnentarach, Easter, and the feast of St. Mary.

3.     Lighting an open fire and the firing of guns are allowed during weddings and celebrations, under the direct supervision of the general of the barracks.

 The governor also promised to see that trials in relation to taxation disputes over land were conducted according to the fair interests of the communities. The only request the governor had of the Armenians in return to his promises was their loyalty to the Ottoman government and the turnover of the people’s weapons to commander Nedim Bey.

The people of Chork-Marzban proceeded with caution; they purposely delayed the handing over of weapons, and in the days that followed they transferred to the commander only the rifles that had become obsolete. In regards to weaponry, the leaders of the town adopted a policy to not compromise under any circumstance.

LOSSES

Chork-Marzban and surrounding Armenian villages

People killed                       83, including 11 women and 3 children

People wounded                 109, including 33 women and 6 children

Plundered                           18 shops in the marketplace

Shops burned                     4 and 1 orange storehouse

Homes burned                    84

Destroyed                           2 watermills

Horses killed                       26

Churches and schools         2 churches and 2 schools

Monetary loss                     40,000 gold liras

Immediately after the ceasefire Chork-Marzban received 300 gold liras towards their rebuilding efforts from the Center of the AGBU and the Patriarchate. They also received all necessary food provisions.

Third Heroic Resistance (1919-1921)

After the ceasefire of 1918, Cilicia, Syria and Lebanon fell under the control of France. The Armenians who had been spread near and far began to slowly head back to the vacant Armenian towns and villages of Zeitun, Hajin, Adana, Sis, Chork-Marzban, Marash, Aintab and Edessa. However the agenda of the Armenians differed from the policies of the French who were claiming lands, and thus soon after the Armenians were forced to once again pick up their weapons to defend what was left to them.

Although Turkey had lost and had accepted her defeat, the Turkish army had not yet surrendered their weaponry and Ataturk had begun his nationalist movement. This was the backdrop in 1919-1921 when the Armenians of Cilicia began to organize their self-defense in several regions. Chork-Marzban became one of the most prominent among the communities.

The organization and leadership of the third battle of self-defense may be credited to Zora (actual name Misak) Iskenderian, a member of the Reformed Hunchakian Party from Musa Ler region, and his colleague Evig Minas from Chork-Marzban. A united body was formed in Chork-Marzban comprising of the three political parties, including three chapters from the Armenian Sahmanadir Ramkavar Party, one chapter from the Reformed Hunchakian Party, and one chapter from the Dashnak Party. Aside from those the Armenian Protestant community of Ozerli and Ojakle had one member. The Armenian National Association created in Adana, which was a sort of government, also had a local chapter. The executive body and the local committee of the Combined Political Party collaborated harmoniously. According to Zora Iskenderian, “It was a form of government that had regular sessions and took decisions in Chork-Marzban.”

In order to prepare themselves for upcoming attacks, Zora and Hampartsoum Barsamian were entrusted with the task of forming a youth organization. Immediately by-laws were drawn up and the “Youth Association” was created and also is placed under the jurisdiction of the National Association. During this time (December 18) the “People’s Association” had also been formed by Minas Krikorian with a membership of over 200.

The leaders of Chork-Marzban had firm ties with the Armenian Legions. Meanwhile the experienced and legendary hero Mleh was sent to Chork-Marzban by Mihran Damadian, the leader of the Combined Political Committee of Adana as Overall Supervisor.

At this time Venizelos, the Greek Prime Minister, sent a full container of arms and ammunition to Chork Marzban. This was considered to be a meaningful turn of events for the Armenians of Chork-Marzban and the surrounding regions, as although extremely small in number, they had succeeded in maintaining their existence under such chaotic and difficult conditions. The weapons were brought ashore at night, using caution to not alert the unkind and pro-Turkish French “allies”, as a result of whose presence the unbridled barbarism of the Turks continued at every opportunity. The people of Chork-Marzban were armed with Martins and Bulgarian rifles. Thanks to these weapons no one in the city was left unarmed; even the women and girls had their share of weapons.

During French occupation, as a result of the predetermined rights granted to the Turks by local leaders, certain Armenian regions such as Ekbes (Eybez), Bakce, Harunie and Hasanbeyli were stranded or were under intense danger. Thus Armenians would arrive from these regions on a daily basis. In addition to the aforementioned, with the support of commander Gara Hasan, the loyal general of Kemal Ataturk, innocent Armenian farmers and coal miners became the target of fierce attacks. Having lost hope in French forces, the people of Chork-Marzban were forced to rely upon their own resources for the third time and defend themselves. This period of self-defense lasted a couple of months during which the lives of the Armenians of Chork Marzban were spared.

The tension between French leaders and Armenians reached its zenith when Gara Hasan, encouraged by French tolerance, opened fire on the marketplace of Chork-Marzban and took two lives. When the Armenians asked for French support, the latter had the audacity to reply that they did not have the necessary resources to defend Chork-Marzban. In this tension the French intensified the resuscitation of criminal activity against the war-torn Armenians of Chork-Marzban.

Such was the case of Zora Iskenderian, assigned to lead the resistance. The French commander Andre wished to find a reason to remove this hero from the battlefield. He purposely provoked Zora into a fiery reaction and tried to arrest him. Zora managed to escape and that same day in a secret meeting with the National Association he transferred his post to Evig Minas.

The French actively persisted in persecuting the leaders of the resistance. For example, Colonel Bremo in his letters addressed to Mihran Damadian, representative of the National Delegation, dated April 18 and 19 (No. 1258 and 1285), wrote:

“I have the honor to inform you of the events which have occurred in the region of Dort-Yol…. The Armenians have formed several brigand groups.”

It was clear to the Armenian fighters that they should not place any hope in the French forces, and thus they intensified their attacks on Turkish bandits who under the leadership of Gara Hasan had grasped Chork-Marzban in pincers. The Armenians proceeded according to the principle, “and eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. During the three days that followed under the leadership of Evig Minas the fighters of Chork-Marzban achieved several victories and voided the surrounding villages of Turkish and Kurdish bandits. Chork-Marzban was free once more.

Up to the point of the great betrayal, which is to say the Franco-British agreement of October 21, 1921, Chork-Marzban struggled to maintain its existence. Forgotten were yesterday’s “small ally”, the devotion of the Armenian legions, our innumerable martyrs, and the Christian and co-religionist Armenians. “Knightly” France slithered like a reptile in front of her former enemy, giving in compromise after compromise. The people of Chork-Marzban, who had fairly achieved victories in an armed resistance, were told by the French governor, “…I am saddened to inform you that we will intervene with military force so that the Turks may take possession of this land as imposed by the terms of the agreement.”

Thus the remainder of the Armenians, the Greeks, Assyrians and Alevis were placed under the will of Turkish compassion. The haste and flight began. The destiny of the Armenians was left up to chance and so they looked towards different and unknown horizons. Just like the Armenians of Cilicia, those of Chork-Marzban left their homeland with teary eyes. For the most part they settled in Alexandria, Aleppo and Oman.

Many of the descendents of the residents of Chork-Marzban who are now spread all over the world teasingly wish one another to one day taste the oranges of Chork-Marzban and experience the sweetness of the warm breeze flowing from the mountains of Adana. Their dreams to return are still alive.



 

17 comments
  1. I would like to know more

    Hi, I would like to know more. I believe my great grandfather was involved. His name was Sarkis Majarian. I am trying to look into my family tree.  Maybe you could help me.

    Thank you for your time.

    Regards,

    Charles Majarian

    1. Your ancestors Majarians

      Dear Compatriot Avedis,

      There are many braches of Majarians from Armenia to Lebanon and US. I’ll do my best to find more information by asking another Sarkis Majarian of Glendale, California. He is in printing business and a reporter; his sister’s name is Araxi, brother Kevork.

      Dr. Hagop Majarian was a dentist in Beirut; his son lives in Beirut.

      Majarian Dikran moved to Armenia in 1947 with his family. His wife Yester was my grandmother’s sister. They all passed away. Majarian Dikran’s son Kevork moved to US, he too passed away 20 years ago. His sons Dikran and Hagop and daughter Yester live in Los Angeles and I see them often.

      Now, I have to ask them about your branch and hope I will be helpful.

      Minas Kojayan

      1. H. Majarian of Damascus & Gesaria

        Hello all: I am a researcher/reporter from Boston in the United States. I am trying to reach family members or anyone who might know of a Hovannes Majarian who lived in Damascus, Syria in the 1920s and 1930s. I believe he would have come
        from Kayseri/Gesaria in central Turkey.

        The reason I am looking for him is that he was associated with the Gesaria
        Compatriotic Union that was located in Damascus, and which published a wall calendar in 1931. 

        If you know of anyone who might know of this man, the Compatriot Union of Damascus or the wall calendar, I would appreciate it greatly if you contacted me via my e-mail address stephenkurkjianATgmail.com     

        Many thanks.

        1. Majarian of Damascus

          Dear Mr. Kurkjian,

          There are Majary(i)ans from different parts of Western Armenia and Cilicia.

          1. MAJAR means Hungarian (Magiar, Majiar, Majar, Majarstan). After the fall of the Armenian eternal capital city of Ani (1064 to the Byzantines and then to Seljuk Turks – final fall circa 14th century), Armenians from that region fled to North West (Southern Russia, Poland, Hungary), others migrated to the Eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire, Cilicia. During the late decades of the 18th century many Armenians moved to the Cilicia. Those who came from Hungary were called Majar Armenians – Majarians.

          2. MAJAR also means fermented grape juice wich is eventually going to become wine. Thus, a person who makes majar  is a majarian – people making majar-wine.

          So, it is not unusual to find Majarians in different regions of Armenia.

          Dear Mr. Kurkjian, I have some connections among the Kesaratsis, I’ll ask rhem to help you.

          1. Gesaria Photo
            Thank you very much, Mr. Kojayan. I would send you a copy of the photo, but I am not sure how to do it via this site. I appreciate your response.
            Best,  
            Steve Kurkjian

  2. More information
    Where can I get more information about Manouk Tenkerian (the one involved in first resistance of Dort-yol) and his family? By the way that is also my father’s name.

    Thanks.

  3. My grandfather Hagop

     
    My grandfather Hagop Tenkerian was born in Dort-yol. For sure there had to be a relation with Manouk Tenkerian.
    Tenkerians are rare but tough. My recollection from what my grandmother used to say is that after they relocated
    in Iskendaroon, my grandfather used to go back to his land and home at night …….always came back.

    We also have a deed in his name locating his land, house and orange trees. Please we need to preserve this piece of document as it is deteriorating.  Can you help?  Thank you for this rich research. 

    1. Dear Mher: Documents
      Dear Mher,

      Deeds and any other documents that relate to ownership and identity from the time of the Genocide are extremely important to preserve.

      The IOC (International Organizing Committee) of the proposed Western Armenian National Congress has at its disposal a legal team that collects the type of information that you have provided. A database is being prepared for future legal actions when the time and circumstances permit.

      I would strongly suggest that you get in touch with them, provided the deed is authentic.

      Cordially yours,

      Dikran Abrahamian

      1. Documents and Ancestors
        Dear Mher,

        a) Documents: Please e-mail or send me a copy of your documents so that I can show it to Mr. Vartkes Yeghiayan – a well known  lawyer who is specialized in dealing with this kind of documents relating to Armenian estates in the Ottoman Empire. 

        c) Here are the Tenkerians whose names and addresses are in our Chork-Marzban mailing list:

        Anahid Tenkerian   
        5334 Loma Linda Avenue, #1
        Los Angeles, CA 90027

        Manoug Tenkerian 
        7040 Haskell Avenue, #202
        Van Nuys, CA 91406

        Mihran Tenkerian
        6614 Jamieson Avenue
        Reseda, CA 91335

        Minas Kojayan

  4. Balian Family

    If one tracks the family tree of the Balians, I'm sure one will discover that all Balians are related. My great-grandfather's name was Zakar Balian. They called him "Altebarmahk" meaning six-fingered. I've read, in a book, about the Chork Marzban'tsi Armenians that he had a "srdjaran" (cafe), maybe in Ojakle. If anyone has further information about him, it will be nice to know.

  5. Hi there !

    My great grandparents were from Dort-Yol. Griqor Karadanyan/Karadanyan and Petros Kalajyan/Galajyan . Griqor Karadanyan/Karadanyan his wife and her newborn daughter (my grandmother) survived the Genocide. Petros Kalajyan/Galajyan was killed, his wife and 2 sons – Kevork (my grandfather) and Iskender survived as well.

    All I know about my family is that both my great grandfathers had orange plantations, they were good neighbors and when Petros was killed Griqor lead 2 of their families and other women and children from Dort-Yol out of Turkey. First they went to Jordan where my newborn grandmother was baptized and was named Bethlehem.

    After 15 years my grandparents Bethlehem and Gevork met in Aleppo and got married. In 1946 they moved to Soviet Armenia.

    Please let me know if you have any information about Karadanyans and Kalajyans from Dort-Yol.

    Thank you in advance

    Ophelia

  6. I Am Searching

    Hello. My name is Kevork Makassian. I live in Lebanon and I am searching for my origins. My father said we are from Deurt Yol. My grandfather's name was also Kevork Makassian. We had a farm for horses in Deurt Yol. I don't know if it's true that my grandfather's father name was Krirkor Makassian. If anyone can help me find my family tree or any picture or information about Deurt Yol and send it to me to my email I would be very grateful.
    Thank you.

    1. Roots

      As you may know, Makassian translates to "Scissors", as in maker of cutting scissors. The trade was similar to "Puchakjian", maker of knives. I know cases of such a name being changed to "Cutler" in the West.

      Best to try a DNA test, which would put you in touch with people who match your DNA, whose family history should help answer your question.

      You could Google "Armenia DNA Project" which is part of FamilyTreeDNA.com The Administartors would guide you through the steps.

      I found a cousin that way, whose grandfather had come to USA in the 1890s, became a Medical Doctor and changed his name.

      Through DNA, you may find that Makassian name had been changed.

  7. My Name is Jesica

    Hello. My name is Jesica Payaslian. I live in Argentina and I am searching for my origins. If you could give me any information, I would be very grateful. Thank you!
    Jesica

    1. Reply to Jesica

      Jesica,
      I hope you know that Payaslian is a revered family name among the Armenians.

      Google Arto Vaun and read his article about his famous uncle, the late Catholicos of Blessed Memory Zareh I Payaslian. Should you be able to get in touch with him, he might be of help to you.

      Your second option is joining Aleppo Armenians Facebook Group and alerting its members of your search. For all I know the post Genocide Payaslian family is rooted in Aleppo.

      Vahe

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