Brave Rubina Areshian in the Attempt on the Life of Sultan Abdul Hamid

Brave Rubina Areshian

One of the idols for the Armenian patriotic youth was the courageous Rubina (Sophie) Areshian-Ohanjanian (1881, Tiflis – 1971, Canada). She was only 24 years old when she and her associates prepared and carried out an attempt on the life of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

Rubina was born in Tiflis into the family of a landowner. Since youth, she has been involved in the Armenian national liberation movement.

Being a highly brave and purposeful person, thanks to her high individuality, she soon became a member of the group of the Dashnaktsutyun party which under the leadership of Kristapor Mikaelian would make an attempt on the life of Abdul Hamid.

This action was to be a response to the brutal suppression of the 1904 Sasun uprising by the “bloody” sultan. 10 thousand Armenians had been killed in the resistance.

However, at the last stage of the preparation for the assassination, the unexpected happened. During one of the bomb tests, the leader of the group Mikaelian died in the explosion, which was a heavy blow for the group. However, at the insistence of Rubina, it was decided to carry out the assassination.

The attempt on the sultan’s life was to be made at the entrance to the Yıldız Mosque in Constantinople, where Abdul-Hamid and his retinue performed salah every Friday. According to the preliminary plan, Rubina was to personally throw a bomb into the retinue of the Sultan. However, it was decided to replace this dangerous plan with another one.

To carry out the assassination, the group with great difficult acquired a carriage. In it, a time bomb was carefully hidden. The bomb was supposed to explode at the time of the Sultan’s exit from the mosque.

On July 21, 1905, Rubina and her friends managed to place the carriage as close as possible to the mosque’s entrance and engage the time mechanism at the appointed hour. At the set time, the entirety of Constantinople was shaken by a powerful explosion. As a result, dozens of Turkish high-ranking officials were killed. However, the sultan miraculously survived because he had lingered in the mosque.

After the failed attempt on the sultan’s life, Rubina left for Europe. After the overthrow of Abdul Hamid in 1908, she returned to the Ottoman Empire in order to help her arrested Dashnak friends.

Subsequently, Rubina became the wife of the future Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia Hamo (Hamazasp) Ohanjanian. In 1908, Ohanjanian was convicted by the Russian tsarist government in the alleged case of “the trial of Dashnaktsutyun” and was exiled to Siberia. Rubina accompanied him in his exile.

The Ohanjanians returned to Armenia in early 1915. In 1921, after the fall of the First Republic of Armenia, they ended up in Cairo, where Rubina became an active member of the National Armenian Association for Education and the Arts founded by her husband.

After the death of her husband, Rubina moved to Canada. She passed away in Canada at the age of 90 in 1971. In spite of her age, she until the end maintained her persistent patriotic spirit.

Ruben Shukhyan

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