In 1918, the 36th Turkish division invaded the Ararat plateau and seized the Araks station lying in 10 kilometers from Sardarapat. The Araks station was situated on the Alexandropol-Yerevan railway.
The commander of the Yerevan detachment of Armenian troops general Silikian accompanied by the future Yerevan commandant Shahhatuni arrived in Etchmiadzin.
The Catholicos of All Armenians Gevorg V Sureniants appealed to the people:
“Armenians! The Turks are our eternal enemies, they conquered Constantinople and are moving towards the heart of our country and our faith. They are on their way to the Ararat plateau.
The Turks are marching sowing cruelty and destruction and our commanders see no other way except for the fleeing of the Armenian patriarch. They offer me to leave Holy Etchmiadzin, our sanctuary.
No and no! A thousand times no! I will not leave the Holy See inherited from our sacred ancestors. If the Armenian people cannot stop the advancement of the enemy, if they are not able to save our shrines, then I will take up arms and die on the porch of the temple, but I will not leave.
And if this is the end, why not accept it with dignity and courage instead of groveling before the enemy like pathetic slaves? The past centuries of our history are painted with the blood of martyrs.
This has not exhausted our blood and strength. For many centuries, the Armenian people lived fighting for their identity. So why not rebel together with all the people against the enemy greedy for our blood?”
Read also: The Battle of Musa Dagh – September 12, 1915