Albert Tsagikyan has published a 43-page booklet titled Unsung Heroes: Our Forgotten Heroes, Artashes Galust Gevorkian, Torgom Galust Gevorgian, Onik Yanikian, Gurgen Yanikian, Asatur Melik Hasan-Jalalian. This is not an academic study but a work prepared with passion from a unique personal point of view. Tsagikyan is able to provide some insights concerning the assassination of Ahmed Cemal Pasha in 1922 via his maternal grandmother’s older sister, Arpenik Rostomian (born Melik Hasan-Jalalian), whose husband Artashes Galust Gevorgian was one of the leaders, as well as on the earlier assassination of a Tsarist governor. These events are linked together not only through history but through family connections for Tsagikyan, along with the more recent act of Gourgen Yanikian, which helped lead to the creation of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA).

Artashes and his younger brother, Torgom, held Cemal Pasha responsible for the destruction of their native village of Khodorchur. They formed a group of guerrilla fighters and engaged in partisan tactics behind the Ottoman lines, and later joined General Andranik Ozanian’s irregular forces. After Andranik withdrew from Armenia, Artashes, his brother and others returned to Tbilisi but kept searching for Cemal and worked with the Nemesis group of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which located Cemal in 1922. Artashes and his friend Petros Ter Poghosian planned the assassination and carried it out on July 25 of that year.

Earlier, the author’s great-grandfather’s brother, Asatur Hasan-Jalalian, he claimed, assassinated a Tsarist governor, Prince Grigory Golitsyan, in 1903 in response to the latter’s anti-Armenian policies and the confiscation of properties of the Armenian Church. He was a priest in a small church who stabbed Prince Golitsyn in the neck after a failed assassination attempt by the Hnchakian Party organized by Paramaz (Madteos Sarkisian) earlier the same year. Golitsyan died later in a hospital from his wound. This attempt as far as I know has not been attested to elsewhere. The extant literature only mentions the Hnchagian Party’s attempt organized by Paramaz in October 1903, which left Golitsyn wounded but able to recover.

Albert Tsagikyan

Gourgen Yanikian’s father was the brother of Khodorchur village chief Vartan. Vartan’s son, Onik Yanikian, married the author’s grandmother’s oldest sister. Gourgen, born in Karin (Erzerum), saw his older brother murdered in front of him by Ottoman soldiers. His family escaped to the Ukraine and later to Russia. During World War I he volunteered in General Drastamat Kanayan’s battalion in the Russian Tsarist army. He was wounded but survived to return to Russia and graduate university as an architect. After working in Iran as a sculptor for some time, moved to the United States. During a visit in 1973 to Armenia he met with some relatives and told them to look for news about him over the next three months. In fact, he did shoot and kill a Turkish diplomat, and was imprisoned, but his act inspired the founding of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, with the goal of compelling the Turkish government to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, pay reparations and cede territory to Armenia.

This book is important not only for passing down some orally preserved information about 20th century Armenian history, which will no doubt be helpful for historians, but also for providing information on the fate of the Khodorchur Armenians who had left their homeland and anecdotes about the Stalinian oppressions in Armenia. Writer Aksel Bakunts makes a brief appearance, as he supported the creation of a new Khodorchur community in the USSR and wrote a novel about the Khodorchur Armenians.

There are a number of typesetting and typographical errors (e.g. Kavayan for Kanayan, Aretashes, Melick, Hammid, etc.).

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The author at the end of this book makes clear his goal: “I hope this book will help people understand how important it is to fight for their own rights, no matter what; it should become an awakening call for humanity against any type of genocide in any corner of the world.” In addition, aside from being a call for young Armenians to continue their predecessors’ struggle for justice for the Armenian Genocide, Tsagikyan hopes that the booklet will “help reconnect the American descendants of the Yanikian family to their Armenian relatives,” and perhaps find some long-lost relatives in Europe.

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