Kevork Chavush

Kevork Ghazarian (Armenian: Գէորգ Ղազարեան; 1870 – 28 May 1907), commonly known as Kevork Chavush or Gevorg Chaush (Armenian: Գէորգ Չաւուշ), was an Armenianfedayee leader in the Ottoman Empire and a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Armenian fedayi leader
Kevork Chavush

The only extant photo of Kevorg Chavush, taken in 1904 by Vahan Papazian (Goms) on Aghtamar Island, just before the meeting of fedayees.
Birth name Kevork Ghazarian
Nickname(s) The Lion of Mountains (Սարերու Առիւծ/Սարերու Ասլան)
Born 1870
Mktink, Bitlis Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
Died 28 May 1907(1907-05-28) (aged 36–37)
near Sulukh, Bitlis Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
Allegiance Dashnaktsutyun
Years of service 1890—1907
Battles/wars Armenian National Liberation Movement
1894 Sasun Resistance
Battle of Holy Apostles Monastery (1901)
1904 Sasun Uprising
Battle of Sulukh

Kevork Chavush attained a legendary status during his lifetime for his extraordinary daring and valor in defense of the Armenian peasantry against harassment by marauding Turkish and Kurdish forces.[1] He was the undisputed leader of Armenian revolutionary forces in the region of TaronSasun from 1904 until his death in 1907 after being wounded in a battle with the Ottoman army.[1] Kevork’s actions earned him the moniker “Lion of the Mountains” (Armenian: Սարերու Ասլան).

. . . Kevork Chavush . . .

Kevork Chavush was born Kevork Ghazarian (although his surname is given as Adamian or Melkonian in various sources)[2] to a family of hunters in the region of Sasun, in the village of Mktink of the Psank (Psanats) district.[3] His exact date of birth is not known, but he is believed to have been born around 1870.[2] He received his education at the school of the Arakelots Monastery, where he met Arabo (Arakel Avedisian), one of the first fedayee leaders.[1] He left school to join Arabo’s band of fighters. After Arabo was arrested, Chavush tracked down Arabo’s betrayer and assassinated him.[4] From 1885 to 1888, he travelled to Aleppo and found residence there. He worked to raise enough money to buy a rifle. He returned to Taron in 1890 to join his friend Hampartsoum “Murad” Boyadjian’s group of Armenian fighters with the aim of defending Armenian-populated villages from Hamidian persecutions.[5]

Heghine, wife and widow of Kevork Chaush, 1910

In 1894, he participated in the Sasun Resistance against Sultan Abdul Hamid’s persecution of Armenians. During the battle, Chavush was captured and sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. He managed to escape from jail 2 years later and fled to the mountains of Sasun, where he joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) political party with his friends and conducted revolutionary activities targeting Turkish officials. During his career as a fedayee fighter, Kevork worked with leaders Serob Aghpyur, Gurgen (Baghdasar Malian) and later Andranik Ozanian.[1] During Kevork’s time with Serob Aghpyur’s group, Kevork’s uncle ran into trouble with the guerrillas when he kidnapped a woman from a different Armenian village. The case was brought to Serob Aghbyur, who judged Kevork’s uncle to be guilty and ordered Kevork to execute his uncle and his uncle’s wife.[2] Kevork carried out Serob’s orders but suffered from a severe depression afterwards and isolated himself in order to grieve the loss of his uncle.[5] Kevork left Serob’s fedayee group after this incident.[2] After Serob’s death in 1900, Kevork and Andranik killed Serob’s murderer Khalil Pasha and the Armenians who informed on him.[6]

In 1901, Kevork fought alongside Andranik at the Battle of Holy Apostles Monastery, where a small group of fedayee repelled a much larger Turkish force. Kevork participated in the Second Sasun Resistance in 1904.[7] Afterwards, he crossed into the region of Vaspurakan (Van) with Andranik and Hampartsoum Boyadjian, but desired to return to Sasun and did so shortly after.[1] He led the Armenian forces in Taron-Sasun from 1904 to 1907, when some of his most famous exploits occurred.

In the fall of 1905, Kevork married Eghso (Heghine), the daughter of a village chief he had fallen in love with seven years earlier, but had not been able to marry because of the his revolutionary activities.[8] Kevork and Eghso had one son together named Vartges.

Kevork was known to have good relations with some Kurdish leaders of the region. He tried to persuade them not to obey the orders of Sultan Abdul Hamid, who enlisted many Kurds into his Hamidiye regiments. This was in vain as the Kurds ended up not joining the Armenian revolutionaries.[5] Although his daring actions made him a legend among the local Armenians and Kurds, some of Kevork’s men began to oppose his impulsive and reckless behavior.[9] At the Fourth World Congress of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation held in April 1907, Kevork was elected a member of the Sasun-Vaspurakan Responsible Body, which directed all of the party’s military and revolutionary activities in the Armenian provinces of the Ottoman Empire.[1][10]

. . . Kevork Chavush . . .

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. . . Kevork Chavush . . .