Born in Shoushi, Karabagh, Davtian was one of the most outstanding and idealistic figures of the ARF’s first generation. He completed his secondary education at the Tiflis Nersisian College and studied political and social sciences at the University of Geneva.
In 1891, invited to Tabriz, Persia, to teach, he joined the group led by Hovsep “Ishkhan” Arghoutian and Nikol Douman. In 1892, he attended the First World Congress of the ARF, where, with Zavarian, he hotly defended organizational decentralization.
After a few years of teaching in Tabriz, he returned to Geneva to continue his studies. He worked on Droshak with Rostom and also during Rostom’s absence (1895–1896). In the summer of 1896, when the assassination of the Sultan was being planned, he went to Constantinople; he returned to Geneva after the failed attempt. He was back in Tabriz in 1898 and in Switzerland once more in 1900. The following year he returned to Tiflis and remained for a fairly long period. He was the editor of Harach (Forward) from 1905 to 1906.
He was back in Tabriz form 1908 to 1913 as director of the Central School. Subsequently, he returned to Geneva, where he remained. He died there of tuberculosis in August of 1918, at the age of 53.
Honan’s wife, Hortense Berchier, a Swiss citizen, spoke and wrote Armenian fluently. She was Honan’s life companion, sharing his concerns, sentiments, and commitment toward the Armenian people. She also died of tuberculosis, in 1917, in Geneva.
The following remarks by Honan were made during the height of the Armenian revolutionary movement, in the mid-1890s.
Although we consider the Eastern Question a powerful weapon, we do not think that we can, with this single weapon, achieve our aspirations. We have always said that no hope should be placed on
diplomacy; it is not a friend of the freedom of peoples. But powerful revolutionary movements force it to make concessions; and if it does make a concession, that, for us, is a step forward—nothing more.
Diplomacy never makes a concession easily, as the evidence of the most recent events attests; through cunning games and maneuvers it attempts to throw dust into the eyes of the people, as it has done up to this day…. We must learn from the past, and we must be very careful regarding the most recent games, the objective of which may simply be to calm the disquiet being felt….
So that, this time around, all the work and sacrifices do not go to waste, we must continue the fight—the only means of forcing diplomacy to take into consideration the demands of the discontented people. And when the demands of the Armenian people are taken into consideration, when it takes a forward step, an ample and favorable arena will be created for revolutionary activity; by gathering greater strength and having a broader realm for activity, it will become possible to succeed in our sacred goal the liberation of Turkish Armenia… for which the Armenian Revolutionary Federation struggles today.
Once more we appeal to the Armenian people. The present moment is advantageous for our cause. To become careless now is to make the greatest of historical mistakes, to betray the cause of the people of Turkish Armenia, and to insult the memory of thousands of martyrs.
From “Nerka Ropen,” (The Present Moment) Droshak, No. 19, 1895