Zeytun Uprisings – 1877-1878, 1895

Zeytun Uprisings - 1877-1878, 1895The Zeytun uprisings in 1877-78 and 1895 marked the struggle of the Armenians of the Zeytun district against Turkish despotism. Since the second half of the 19th century, the Turkish government has resorted to drastic measures to eliminate the semi-independent position of Zeytun located in Western Armenia.

In as early as 1862, these actions provoked a powerful rebellion in Zeytun. The uprising of 1877–78 broke out in response to tax increases and increased oppression from Turkish authorities. The uprising was preceded by unrest in Zeytun: in 1872 and 1875, the Armenians expelled Turkish policemen from the city and proclaimed the independence of Zeytun.

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 prevented the Turkish authorities from crushing the Zeytun uprising. Armenians attempted to establish contact with Russian troops operating in Western Armenia to obtain weapons, but no assistance was provided.

After the end of the war, the Turkish government concentrated its troops against Zeytun and in a short time suppressed the rebellion of the Turkmen Kozanoğlu tribe that wanted to join the Armenians. Then, the Turkish troops occupied Zeytun. 400 rebels led by prince Papik Yenitunian (Norasharian) ascended the mountains and continued the struggle.

The Sublime Porte, trying not to provide the European countries with a new excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey, entered into negotiations with Yenitunian. The Turkish side recognized him as the leader of the city, reduced the size of taxes levied on the Armenians, and released the arrested Zeytunians contained in the Marash prison. By making these compromises, the Turkish authorities managed to pacify the people of Zeytung.

The second uprising in Zeytun took place in 1895, shortly after the massacres of Armenians began in Western Armenia.

Defending their lives, honor, and property, the people of Zeytun resorted to self-defense in August 1895. The Zeytun National Assembly decided to bring the residents of the nearby Armenian villages to the city of Zeytun, drive out Turkish officials, and prepare for the resistance to Turkish troops.

A part of the district’s population (about 10 thousand Armenians) was concentrated in the village of Frnuz. In October 1895, after the massacre of Armenians in Marash, Turkish troops (50–60 thousand soldiers) marched at Zeytun. The defenders (6 thousand fighters) led by Prince Ghazar Shovroian and Aghasi Tursarkisian put up a stubborn resistance to the Turks for more than two months, repelling their attacks.

Unable to seize Zeytun, the Turkish government was forced to send six foreign consuls to Zeytun to negotiate with the defenders. An agreement was concluded whereby the Turkish troops left the district. An amnesty was granted to the rebels, a Christian ruler was appointed in the district, and the population was exempted from taxes for five years.

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