The Hinchak (Ring of Bell) Committee was established in 1886 in Switzerland by Avedis Nazarbelg, a Caucasian Armenian and a citizen of Russia, his wife Maro and other Caucasian students. In order to disseminate the idea of the committee, a newspaper called Hinchak was published. The heads and most of the members of this committee were Russian Armenians. This committee chose Eastern Anatolia as the area of operation. After some period of time, the headquarters of the committee was moved from Switzerland to London.
The program of the Hinchak Committee was Socialist, Marxist and Centralist. The principles of Karl Marx were adopted as fundamental. Although the members of this committee were called themselves as social democrats their political program totally had the nature of the communist manifesto. The Committee had its headquarters primarily in Istanbul and opened branches in some states of the Ottoman country. In this way, it started its organised activities. The main political objective of this committee was to save the Armenians in Turkey from the Turks, Iranian Armenians from the Iranians and Russian Armenians from the Russians and after that, getting rid of the capitalists in these countries.
"Labourers and productive class comprise great majority of humanity. This class shall be free from the exploitation of the wealthy, sovereign minority, which has the capital, thereby having all the power and means of production, land, plants, mines and means of transportation. The independence of the productive class means the freedom of humanity as a whole, general economic prosperity.
In order to attain this objective and put this into practice actually, the productive classes in all civilised countries ought to organise in ways peculiar to themselves and materialise the communist revolution in all countries through activating the general political opportunities under their rule. Therefore, the other classes will disappear and the productive class will establish a socialist order. In this establishment, people will enact their own laws and show their power.
Now, the Armenians are under the rule of the classes which are dependent on autocratic regimes. Their administration, taxation and financial systems are destructive for them. One hand capitalist production methods are applied in these countries and on the other hand the old economic and management methods are being annihilated continuously."
Considering all these conditions, the provision of a general and comprising socialist rule for the Armenian social democrats and all the Armenians was accepted as a long-term objective and because of that reason all the tendencies and struggles required a short-term objective. This short-term objective was the basis for the social democrat Armenian Revolutionary Hinchak Party. These objectives were as follows:
a. To revolt
b. To annihilate the sovereign classes of the autocratic regimes
c. To save the Armenians from the slavery
d. To support the Armenians for their intervention to the political affairs
e. To remove the obstacles that affect economic and cultural developments
f. To prepare an environment where the working class can voice its wishes and tendencies openly
g. To rearrange the heavy working conditions
h. To provide information for the class so that they can organise themselves as a political unit peculiar to them
i. To facilitate the activities of the people and assist them to attain the long-term objectives
In accordance with this idea, the short-term objective of the Hinchak Committee was to struggle for the removal of autocratic regimes and its classes; and to replace them with constitutional regimes. Its main conditions were as follows:
a. For the representation of the people, a legislative assembly ought to be established through elections, in which all the sections can vote directly. This assembly ought to have the right to examine decide on all the political and economic affairs of the country.
b. Broad autonomy ought to be granted to the states
c. Complete freedom ought to be provided for the people
d. People ought to be able to select the government officials, all the people in public services security officials and the officials in the fields of education and justice
e. Without taking nationality and class differences into consideration, all major citizens ought to have the capacity to be elected both for states and autonomous administrations
f. All the citizens ought to be equal in the presence of law without taking nationality and religious differences into account
g. Complete freedom ought to be granted to press, expression, conscience, organisation, establishment of association and election procedures
h. All the citizens themselves and their homes ought to be protected against attacks
i. The churches ought to be separated from the government; all the religious organisations ought to survive with the help of the people themselves, who are frequenting these organisations
j. In peace, all the people ought to do its military service in militia forces
k. Secular and compulsory education system ought to be implemented; the government ought to aid poor people
Since the political rights mentioned above concern the improvement of the economic situation of the people, it is necessary to fulfil the conditions below:
a. The present tax system ought to be annulled and it ought to be replaced by a tax system, which is advanced and is in accordance with the power and the payment capacity of the people.
b. Indirect taxes ought to be abolished totally
c. The peasants ought exempt from all kinds of debts
d. Agricultural machines ought to be provided with the help of the people and the government. People should be thought how to use these machines and these ought to be delivered to the people
e. Agricultural corporations among the people ought to be established. The goals of these corporation ought to be the sale of the agricultural products, purchasing and management of some products like seeds, cereals etc.
f. All kind of transportation and contact means ought to be supplied
g. In order to hinder the exploitation of the working people, the government ought to procure help in this respect and ought to pass laws to protect them
The Turkish Armenians are the majority of the Armenians and the regions where they live, are the largest territories of our country. Thanks to the 61st article of the Berlin Agreement and the other international conditions, the struggle of most Armenians became a matter of rights and is recognised by the big European countries.
The political, economic and financial disorders, the decrease, the exhaustion, the interior chaos and the disturbances in the Ottoman Empire made the collapse of the Ottoman government necessary and definite. The other European states influenced this situation as well. Some parts of the Ottoman territories in Europe were separated in a systematic way and was owned by other states. Because of this reason, the procurement of the points below became a historical necessity and requirement:
a. The Armenian committee members shall exert their efforts for the defence and finalisation of the Armenian struggle in accordance with the short-term objective.
b. In this context, the struggle area of the revolution shall be the region of Armenians, who are living in Turkey.
c. Since the future of the Armenians shall necessitate the separation from the Ottoman State, the primary condition of short-term objective is the Armenian independence.
The solutions to attain the short-term objective is to mess up and create chaos in the Armenian regions in Turkey by revolution namely by force; and to declare war against the Turkish government with a general revolt. The means of these activities are as follows:
a. To make propaganda through the press, books and speeches among the people, especially the workers, to disseminate the revolution idea of the Hinchak Party, to establish some revolutionary organisations among the people and to rebel
b. To punish Turkish autocrats, detectives, informers, traitors; to use terrorism as the means for the defence of the revolutionary organisations and as a shiled against the infamous and those, who oppress the people.
c. To posses an active armed force for the purpose of protecting the people against the attacks of the government soldiers or tribes, to form raider troops. These troops shall play a leading role in a general revolution in the future.
d. A general revolutionary organisation, which will comprise many regular interconnected groups ought to be established. This organisation will work for the common goal with unity and will apply same tactics given and directed from a single centre.
e. To prepare the incidents for the implementation of an organised rebellion
f. The most appropriate instant for the success of a general revolt is the time when a country has declared war against Turkey.
g. To make the other minorities, which shared same destiny with the Armenians, side with us in order to make war against the Turkish Government, our joint enemy. The most important objective of the Hinchak Committee is to be free of the slavery of the Ottoman State and to establish a federation as in Switzerland.
The Hinchak Committee worked according to a political program and made the Marxism propaganda, which was very attractive especially for the working class. The young people, religious leaders, adventurers and the unemployed were very eager to be a member of the committee and work with us to create chaos and revolt. The Committee executives wanted to create an Armenian Proletariat by working on the class concept. Within the context of the living standards in Turkey, these activities of the Committee could not go beyond the propaganda of socialism. A lot of people from many foreign countries especially Russia and who were familiar with these matters participated in many of the revolts organised by the Hinchak Committee.
The start of the Armenian activities caused many tragic and bloody incidents, which could not be compensated for. For the foundation of the organizations of the Hinchak Committee, ªimavonfrom Tblisi, S. Danielyan, Russian citizen Rupen Hanazat and H. Megavoryan came from Geneva, Iran, Trabzon and Batum respectively. After very long discussions, the Istanbul Hinchak Committee Center was established. The other revolutionary organisations, which were established before 1890 in Istanbul, joined it as well.
As we can see, the destiny of the Armenians in Turkey was left to the hands of many Russian Armenians. In the way, those, who did not enter the committee and who did not help financially were put under pressure or killed. The organisations also extended to many states in Anatolia in a rapidly.
The rules and regulations, and the program of the Hinchak Association were published in 1909, in Istanbul. These rules and regulations were delivered to the Ministry of Interior in accordance with the law concerning the associations; and obtained the certificate no. 90, of February 8, 1909, of the Governor of Istanbul. The rules and regulations were composed of 5 sections.
Concerning the activities of the Armenian Hinchak Committee, it was written as follows in the decision books of the years 1910,1911,1912 and 1913:
a. To work for supply of arms, ammunition and explosives
b. Military Training of the arms (by Marufyan, Yavruyan, Candan)
c. To speed up propaganda
d. To establish contact with the Tashnak Committee
e. To establish contact with the unionists
f. Formation and the management of guerrillas in Van (These guerrillas are; Orsfan, Cang, Goçnak,Juraçak, Pencak, Badami, Tejohenk, Maro and Paros)
On 24 July 1914, Hinchak Committee held its Third Congress in Turkey. This congress was opened under the chairmanship of Cangülyan and under the Secretaryship of Tancutyan with 28 delegates from 51 divisions and these decisions were adopted:
�Taking the serious responsibility, that is required by our activities and objectives and the danger emanating from them into account, we have to avoid adventures and irresponsible behaviour in order to prove, that we are civilised people. The balanced influences and means, which are planned meticulously, are the only solutions to achieve our goals and our operations�
Upon this, the Hinchak committee members started to leave Turkey in 1896. Disagreement occurred among the members of this committee and they were divided into two sections. Some of them were called the original Hinchaks (the supporters of Nazarbeg) and the others were called Reformed Hinchaks (Veragazmiyal Hinchak). A man, called Arpiyaryan started to lead this second group.
Both committees acted in accordance with the opinions and attitude of the directors, not according to their principles and program. They gave top priority to their personal interests and they defended this point of view. This disagreement among them turned into street fights and some of them were beaten and some were killed.
The Armenian people, who understood that Hinchak members were Marxist, refused the views of the members of bands. The struggles increased in 1902 and many members of the committees from both sides were killed in streets fights in Britain, Russia, Egypt, Bulgaria, the Caucasus and Iran. Although some small guerrillas were renamed as Hinchaks after the Revolt in Van, they were deprived as sufficient power. Some of the Hinchak leaders understood the disguised goal of the Russians and they derailed the way that they pursued and this played a major role in the dissolution of the Hinchak Committee.
Sakarya, Emg. Tümg. Ihsan, Belgelerle Ermeni Sorunu, Genelkurmay Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etüt Baskanligi Askeri Tarih Yayinlari, Genelkurmay Basimevi, Ankara, 1984, 2. Edition, pp. 76-87