Chapter XXI

The Provisional Government


Through his exceptional organizing talent and inexhaustible energy, Aram was able to establish order from chaos within a few days. It was democratic and popular in the fullest concept of these terms. He obtained the full cooperation of all, whether residents of Van, peasants, or Armenians frorn Caucasus, in creative tasks and in strengthening the government so that it was adequate, in all respects, not only for Van but also for greater Armenia. In spite of its brief duration, the phenomenal speed and success with which the provisional government of seventy days tackled the tasks of organization and reconstruction is without precedent in our history.

During the very first few days the following administrative bodies were organized:

1. Provincial government, as the main executive body for Vasbouragan with Aram as governor, Siragan Dickranian, lieutenant governor, Baruir Levonian, assistant; Ardag Tarpinian, chief council, Garabed Ajemian, finance; Dickran Terlemezian, treasurer; Onnig Mukhitarian, secretary.

2. Economics Committee

3. Civil Administration

4. Directorate of Education

5. Agricultural Agency

6. Board of Health

7. Board of Trade

8. Judiciary and Courts

9. Police Department

10. Provincial Council, with Aram again as presiding official. Chairmen of the other branches formed the supreme body, and had jurisdiction over property disputes, in matters pertaining to public safety and education, taxation, guarding of the frontiers, territorial disputes, etc.

In quick succession regions, near and far, were organized to enable the mass of refugees, who had poured in Aikesdan during the siege, to repatriate. In all, fourteen regional governments were set up: Shadakh, Gavesh, Arjesh, Aljavaz, Haiotz-Tzor, Bergen, Ardamed, Shah Baghi, Aliur and Janig in Timar, Arjag, Khosh Ab, Mogs and Nordooz. Each had its separate administrative, judicial, economic and police authorities. The regional council helped harmonize and integrate the efforts of the regional authorities. The police force consisted of 360 men with 40 sergeants. Some of the police were mounted.

The news of the establishment of the free Republic of Van reached from Caucasus into the far corners of Russia. All considered this as the morning star of hope for the age old dream of total emancipation. Munificent donations began to pour in. Other detachments of volunteers were coming in and the newborn government gathered strength. Within the first two weeks such popular leaders as Vardan, Keri, Hamazasb, Sebouh and others arrived in Van. Later, Antranig entered Aikesdan with due honors. Three days later the great and aged General Nazarbegian, who had at Dilijan, pulverized the armies of our common enemy, was in Van. He visited Aram; with tears in his eyes, he said in broken Armenian, “After seeing you, your land and your people, I am proud to be Armenian.”

Besides the eminent military leaders, the elite of Armenian intellectuals in Caucasus flocked into Van. Unheralded, came Rosdom, the titan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, with his colleagues and comrades like Hamo Ohanjanian, Simon Vratzian, Nigoghos Aghbalian, Sarkis Araradian and others who were to be the greatest architects of the future in independent Armenia. Here was our greatest contemporary poet, Hovhannes Toumanian, who was now to sing of Akhtamar in a new spirit and of the revolt of the Armenian people with new emphasis.

The most impressive phenomenon, however, was displayed by the people of Van. Revitalized, they nursed great visions and applied themselves with boundless energy. The historic foe was vanquished putting an end to centuries of thraldom. Van had erased the geographic-political frontiers and had joined hands with her brothers in Caucasus. With unmatched dedication she was striving to lay the firm foundations for freedom and a pattern of society based on culture, civilization, and creative endeavor. In spite of the tragically short time - only seventy days - the planning and accomplishments of the provisional government, with its unlimited potentialities, will constitute one of the most magnificent pages of our history.