Newfound documents about the life and activity of Artashes Muradyan

Aram S. Sayiyan
In 1926-1930 in Kemalist Turkey, another Kurdish uprising broke out on Mount
Ararat. One of the key leaders of this uprising was Zilan Bey – in fact, a member of the
Armenian Revolutionary Party Dashnaktsutyun Artashes Muradyan, who, on the
instructions of the party, in the fall of 1927 became the representative of the Armenian
side in Ararat under the pseudonym Zilan Bey. In a very short period of time, he
managed to resolve all controversial issues between the Kurdish tribes and rally them
around the proclaimed Ararat Republic. Thanks to this, the Kemalist authorities did not
manage to bring feuds into the ranks of the Kurdish rebellious tribes before his arrest in
the summer of 1929 and win over at least one tribe to their side. Kurdish units inflicted
heavy defeats on the Turkish army for three years, and in the summer of 1929 they
managed to capture the city of Igdir and reach the Soviet-Turkish border. This very
seriously alarmed the Soviet military-political leadership, which saw this as a real
threat to their power in the South Caucasus. It was decided in Moscow that the Ararat
uprising was planned by the British with the aim of taking over the Baku oil. The use
of the Kurdish question against the British interested the Soviet military-political
leadership for both defensive and offensive purposes. In the expected war with Great
Britain, Iranian and Iraqi Kurdish tribes were supposed to attack British military
airfields in Iraq and destroy distant bombers, preventing them from bombing Baku. As
for the offensive goal, it was planned to send armed detachments of Kurdish tribes of
southeastern Iran to India during the war with Britain, and to send the Kurds of
northwestern Iran to Iraq by tying the hands of the British and preparing a springboard
for the offensive of Soviet troops in these areas.

Moscow believed that ARF Dashnaktsutyun was the organizer of this plan, and
the Kurds were a striking force. To destroy these plans, the OGPU decides to eliminate
Zilan Bey. They manage to lure Artashes Muradyan to the Soviet-Turkish border and
arrest him. But different versions of Muradyan’s arrest suggest that Artashes Muradyan
was recruited by the OGPU even before the uprising in Ararat, and now, when the
victories of the Kurdish detachments and the proclamation of the Ararat Republic
contradicted the interests of Moscow, he was recalled under the guise of arrest and the
uprising was left decapitated. Ruben indirectly confirms this theory, who in his letter to
the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Envoy of the USSR in Egypt N. V. Novikov
wrote that Artashes Muradyan went down to the border river in order to receive
military weapons from the Soviet. His immediate supervisor, Yeghishe Ishkhanyan,
also suspected him of treason, but the investigation into this case found A. Muradyan
absolutely innocent. Most likely, the Bolsheviks managed to lure him into a trap using
his family ties. It is likely that the OGPU threatened with reprisals against the
Muradyan family and he was forced to surrender to the Soviet punitive organs.

In Soviet times, his fate was unknown and only after the collapse of the USSR, it
became known from declassified documents that he was shot in one of the gulag camps
in the Arkhangelsk region in 1938. The place of his burial is still unknown. Together
with him, members of his family and close relatives were also repressed, most of
whom also died in places of detention. The Bolshevik punitive organs did not spare his
young children by arresting Muradyan’s wife, Margarita, or his elderly brother Levon
and father-in-law Grigor, whose graves are also unknown. Artashes Muradyan to this
day is one of the honored national heroes for most of the Kurds and an unjustly
invaluable figure for the Armenian nation.