Ler Kamsar In The February Uprising Of 1921 – Vanuhi Tovmasyan

When this material was being prepared, I intended to prove that Ler Kamsar would not have taken a weapon during the fratricidal riot of 1921. But when I once again descended and ascended the steps of history, blood hit my head – I was horrified. An Armenian brutally killed the descendant heroes who came out of the same bosom and who defended him at the cost of his life. Though how can you call a Bolshevik an Armenian?

Shame on such a man! What monsters you have been!

It also hurts me that many representatives of contemporary intelligentsia along with their sons (who had fought in the Sardarapat Battle) became members of this bloodthirsty party and began to climb up in the dark communist jungle.

In November 1935, the Cheka arrested Ler Kamsar. Along with many false accusations, he was also accused of participating in the February uprising of 1921. Now, I really regret that he hadn’t taken a weapon (although, who knows, if you delve into the archive, maybe you will find a reason for it).

Nonetheless, Ler Kamsar with only a pen his hand could inflict mortal wounds on the “liberator” Bolsheviks because the atrocities of the “Reds” had already agitated many people.

In spite of their short stay in power, the Bolsheviks fully showed their barbaric nature. People were shot right and left. They took away food from the people, thereby leaving them to starvation. Heroes Tovmas Nazarbekyan, Movses Silikyan, and many other officers who had saved us from the Turks were arrested.

In Dilijan, along with other heroes, Daniel Bek-Pirumyan was shot. His brother Poghos Bek-Pirumyan, unable to tolerate injustice and ridicule (he had been deprived of the deserved military rank and mocked), shot himself. Many statesmen and intellectuals ended up in prison, among them Hovhannes Kajaznuni, Levon Shant, and Nikol Aghbalyan.

People got overflown with indignation and rebelled. The first to rebel (February 13), as always (and as our epos testifies), were the Sasuntsis in Aragatsotn. Then, random clashes would occur in the provinces. The uprising was led by former commanders (khmbapets), while the pillar of the uprising was mainly Western Armenian refugees.

Having occupied Ashtarak, Etchmiadzin, Bash-Garni, and Akhta (Hrazdan), the rebels led by Kuro Tarkhanyan and Martiros Bashgarnetsi entered Yerevan on February 18 and drove the Bolsheviks out of the city. Politicians and intellectuals were released from prisons.

Ler Kamsar was personally involved in the release of prisoners. Together with his comrades, he for countless days has taken out the headless bodies of heroes hacked by axes from prison cellars and buried them. These terrible pictures would haunt him for a long time in his dreams – especially when he was excited – and he would jump out of bed from terrible nightmares.

After the liberation of Yerevan, the Salvation Committee of the Fatherland was established. It was headed by Simon Vratsyan who was to rule the country until the formation of a new government. In the meantime, Ler Kamsar was engaged in his regular job – that is, writing – which he has always done under any authority.

On March 25, the Bolsheviks hiding in Artashat during the uprising requested the assistance of the 11th Red Army and launched a powerful counterattack.

The Reds captured Aparan, Kotayk, and entered Yerevan on April 2. To save the capital from destruction, it was decided to surrender the city without resistance. A committee was established to negotiate the surrender of the city – this committee included the Persian consul, American doctor Losher, and writer Hovhannes Tumanyan.

The Salvation Committee of the Fatherland, the army, and most of the population began to retreat to Zangezur along the Bash-Garni-Daralagyaz highway. In Zangezur, they joined the forces of Garegin Nzhdeh and in July moved with him to Persia. Ler Kamsar was also with them.

Here is what a contemporary of those events writes:

“April 1921.

Red pencil, bless you.

On February 18, the uprising was over, and fighting continued in the mountains of Armenia. Aware that the Russian Armenians (Dashnaks) were abusing their friendliness, the Turkish Armenians decided not to fight anymore after arriving in Zangezur. At the head of this [arrived] group was the assistant of Andranik Zovarar Smbat Mshetsi.

However, the Salvation Committee of the Fatherland requested that hazarapet [Armenian military post] Nzhdeh disarm the Turkish Armenians and do not allow them to leave for Persia.

In Tatev, we noticed that Nzhdeh signed his orders in red. The writer of these lines was forcibly assigned to the retreating squad when he was heading to his office to wait out the shelling. Completely unprepared, he was abducted from the street by three armed young people, put in a car, and taken to the Assyrian village of Dvin. He had two red pencils in his pocket.

“A red pencil,” exclaimed Ler Kamsar, “We are saved!” And he showed how to write permissions (passes) for the trip. At the time, only ministers (nakharars) who were to obtain Persian assistance for the ongoing battles in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) had travel passes.

We wrote the text of the passes with a blue pencil and signed them in red. Thanks to this, we were able to safely travel ahead of the group of ministers.

And when the small group of the Salvation Committee of the Fatherland reached Meghri, we joined them. When asked how we ended up in Meghri before them, Ler Kamsar replied: “Bless the red pencil of Mr. N!”

Shortly after the rebels and civilians crossed the Persian border, an amnesty was announced for the rebels. But upon returning to their homeland, almost everybody would be arrested, exiled, or executed.”

Vanuhi Tovmasyan, hetq.am

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