ARTSAKH IN THE FOREFRONT OF
THE NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT - PART I
FIGHTING TYRANNY IN ALL ITS MANIFESTATIONS
Written by Gevork NazaryanThe history of the Armenian people abounds in episodes of struggle for survival and freedom against foreign domination. Located at the confluence of different civilizations and having an exceptional geographical position, the Armenian Plateau was constantly subjected to invasions of pillaging invaders. The people carried on an unceasing struggle against foreign yoke in an infinite struggle for restoration and preservation of freedom and independence. The Armenian people of Artsakh with their rugged, freedom loving character were in the forefront of the Armenian National Liberation Movement.
In the late sixteenth century Artsakh was under the rule of the administrative-political principalities - the melikdoms. The Princes or the Meliks of Artsakh were the standard bearers of the Armenian national power.
In the seventeenth century throughout Artsakh, the idea of liberation of all of Armenia and the Armenian people from foreign yoke began to make momentum. Parallel with the armed struggle, the Armenians in that period made diplomatic efforts, both in the East, as well as the West. Political, spiritual and warrior leaders such as Israel Ori, Archbishop Minas, and the Catholicos of Gandzasar Esai Dgalalian led the movement for national liberation.
During this period, Russia took the mission of liberation of the Christian peoples. In this situation, there were more favorable circumstances for Armenian peoples eternal yearning for freedom.
ARMENIAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS HEADED BY CATHOLICOS NERSES AŠTARAKC‛I
ALONG WITH THE IMPERIAL TROOPS ENTER LIBERATED ĒREVAN.
The Armenians connected their hopes with Russia, thus arousing further hatred on the part of the Turkic tribes. Different Turkic semi-nomadic tribes, who later would be called the Tartars of Caucasus, raided Armenian settlements throughout Artsakh. Examples of barbarism and cruelty during this period on the part of the Turks towards Armenians are abound.
In 1724, Ottoman Turkey invaded Artsakh from the western frontier. Their main target of extermination were the Armenians of Siwnik' and Artsakh, who, headed by the meliks, stood their ground in a life and death struggle for life and liberty.
During this vital period, in order to have effective defense against the foreign invaders, all of Siwnik'-Artsakh was divided into three military regions. The first military region was the Greater Skhnakh, situated in the Mrav Mountains. The second Pokr or Lesser Skhnakh was on the slopes of the Kirs Mountain in the province of Varanda and the third - in the province of Kapan of Siwnik'. The military was compormised of a people's volunteer militia headed by the Council of the military leaders. The spiritual leader of the Armenian forces was the Catholicos of Gandzasar.
Peter the Great's imperial policy of expansion continued under his wife and successor, Catherine I the Great (1725-1727), as well as his grandson, Peter II (1727-1729). The Armenians, however were primarily alone when it came to defend and fight the Turkish invader. Catholicos Yesai, and military commanders, Avan and Tarkhan for years fought off heroically the Ottoman invaders. Being isolated and alone in their struggle the Armenians could not however achieve their final goal of independence and the restoration of the Armenian State and freedom that would come later in the 20th century.