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  • Writer's pictureLeo Torosian

Did the Sasun Rebellion Have a Flag?

Updated: Feb 1



In 1903, Armenian fedayis, led by then fedayi Andranik, demanded Ottoman reforms to end the harassment of Armenian villagers. In 1904, the Sublime Porte launched a new large-scale armed attack on the village of Sasun in the Mush region with 10,000 Turkish and 5,000 Kurdish troops. The self-defense battles were led by Hrayr, Andranik, Gevorg Chavush, Murad of Sebastia and others. Despite the eventual defeat of the fedayis, the population of Sasun refused the request of the Turkish government to leave the mountainous regions and settle in the fields of Mush.


Despite successful initial clashes, the outnumbered Armenian forces, facing the overwhelming Ottoman Army and Kurdish irregulars, had suffered too many casualties and decided to retreat to the Akhtamar Island in Lake Van. In September 1904, they retreated to Persia to regroup.



Andranik and his regiment used the flag pictured above during their military operations against Ottoman troops while in the Sasun mountains. The flag is historically interesting due to its swallowtail and its slight burgee shape (it gets narrower towards the right). The wording "Towards Liberty" (Դէպի Ազատութիւն) is also unusual, because by that time the “Liberty or Death” motto was far more common. The original flag seems to be lost and only a picture remains.


The Aftermath


 During the Genocide, the population of Sasun again waged an unequal struggle for existence against a 30,000-strong Turkish army for several months. Out of the 60,000 Armenians of Sassoon, about 15,000 were saved. They escaped to  Eastern Armenia with the help of the Russian army and settled  in the villages of Ashtarak  and  Talin.


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