Armenian Parties

Lebanon Table of Contents

In general, Armenian groups have supported whatever government was in power. They have tended to focus on issues of interest to the larger Armenian world community and not strictly domestic politics. The three most important Armenian parties have been the Tashnak Party, the Hunchak Party, and the Ramgavar Party. Of these the Tashnak Party has had the greatest political impact.

Founded in 1890 in Russian Armenia, the Tashnak Party sought to coordinate all Armenian revolutionary groups seeking to improve their conditions under Ottoman rule. Although the international Tashnak Party movement advocates socialism, the Lebanese branch of the party prefers capitalism. Since 1943 most of the Armenian deputies in the Chamber of Deputies (four in the election of 1972) have been members or supporters of the Tashnak Party. Prior to the 1975 Civil War, the mostly Christian Tashnak Party was an ally of the Phalange Party.

On the international level, the party has tended to be proWestern , and during the 1950s and 1960s it took an anti-Nasser stance. As has been typical of Lebanon's Armenian community, the Tashnak Party has avoided sensitive and controversial domestic issues and has attempted to play a moderating role in politics. Like other Armenian groups, the Tashnak Party refrained from military activity during the 1975 Civil War. Because the party refused to come to the Christians' side, many Armenian quarters in Lebanese towns were subsequently attacked by Bashir Jumayyil's LF.

The Hunchak Party was organized in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1887. The Hunchak Party has promoted the dual objective of liberating Turkish Armenia and establishing a socialist regime in a unified Armenian homeland. The Hunchak Party in Lebanon has advocated a planned economy and a just distribution of national income. In 1972, for the first time in its history, the Hunchak Party ran jointly for election to the Chamber of Deputies with the Tashnak Party.

Founded in 1921, the Ramgavar Party's ultimate goal was the liberation of Armenia. It has oriented its activities toward preserving Armenian culture among Armenian communities throughout the world. After a period of dormancy, the party was revived in the 1950s in the wake of increasing conflicts between the Tashnak Party and Hunchak Party. The Ramgavar Party presented itself as an alternative that avoided issues divisive to the Armenian community. The Ramgavar Party, sometimes considered the party of Armenian intellectuals, also opposed what it considered the right-wing policies of The Tashnak Party.

The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) was not a political party but rather a highly secret organization that used violence to harm its political enemies, principally the government of Turkey. Established in 1975, ASALA used the Lebanese Civil War as an opportunity to put into practice without government interference its belief in armed struggle. Adhering to MarxismLeninism , ASALA aligned with radical Lebanese and Palestinian groups against rightist forces during the fighting in the late 1970s.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress