Aram ManukianMonday, June 6, 2022
Aram Manukian (19 March 1879 – 29 January 1919), was an Armenian revolutionary, and statesman. He is widely regarded as the founder of the First Republic of Armenia.
Born and educated in Russian (Eastern) Armenia, he was mostly active in Van, one of the largest cities in Turkish (Western) Armenia. He rose to prominence there as a community organizer. During the first months of World War I, he worked with local Ottoman officials to de-escalate rising tensions until mid-April 1915, when Turkish forces laid siege to the city. He led the successful Armenian civilian self-defense of Van. As a result, tens of thousands avoided being deported and massacred by the Turkish government while the Armenian genocide was underway. He briefly served as the head of the provisional government in Van.
Following the Russian Revolution and the collapse of the Caucasian front in 1917–18, Aram was "popular dictator" of the unconquered area around the city of Yerevan. In May 1918, he helped organize the defense against the advancing Turkish army, which was effectively stopped at the Battle of Sardarabad, preventing the complete destruction of the Armenian nation. Manukian played an important role in the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia and served as its first minister of internal affairs. He died of typhus in January 1919, short of his 40th birthday.
Aram Manukian was an advocate for self-reliance. He was noted for his ability to unite different sections of society for a common cause. He is widely considered by scholars to be the founder of the First Republic of Armenia. During the Soviet period, he, along with other prominent Dashnaks, was largely disregarded. Since 1990, attempts have been made to revive his memory in independent Armenia.
Aram Manukian was born Sargis Hovhannisian on 19 March 1879, either in Zeyva village in Zangezur (modern-day Davit Bek, in Armenia's Syunik Province) or in Shushi, the largest city of Karabakh at the time. His father, Harutyun, was a gunsmith; his mother, Sona, was a housewife. He was the youngest of five children. He received primary education at the Agulyats School in Shushi. Starting in 1895 he attended the city's diocesan school, where he joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the main driving force of the Armenian national liberation movement. In the spring of 1901, Manukian was expelled from school for revolutionary activities and moved to Yerevan, where he continued his education at the local diocesan school. He graduated two years later, in May 1903. In 1903, Manukian went to Baku where he took part in strikes and later in the Armenian resistance against the confiscation of Armenian Church properties by the Russian government. He was briefly in Elisabethpol to organize the Armenian resistance there. In mid-1903 he moved to Kars, where he actively took part in the formation of armed groups. In September 1903, within a group of 150 men, Aram Manukian tried to cross the Russian-Turkish border to transfer weaponry to the fedayi in Sasun; however, he returned to Kars due to illness.
Manukian married Katarine Zalyan in Yerevan in 1917. They met at an orphanage, where she worked as a doctor. Their only daughter, Seda, was born in 1918. Katarine was one of three females elected to the Armenian parliament in 1919. Upon Aram's death and Armenia's takeover by Bolsheviks, she found herself an unemployed single mother. She settled in Krasnodar, Russia, but returned to Soviet Armenia in 1927 to fill the shortage of doctors. She died in 1965. Their daughter, Seda, lived in Yerevan until 1976 when she moved to Moscow. She was married to the son of the prominent fedayi Khansori Vardan. She died in 2005.