Born in the village of Aygehat, in Lori, Armenia, Simon Zavarian completed his secondary schooling in Tiflis and continued his education at the Moscow Agricultural Institute, from which he graduated in 1899. He returned to Tiflis, where he worked closely with Kristapor Mikayelian to establish the Federation of Armenian Revolutionaries in 1890.
He went to Trebizond in October of the same year to assume the post of school principal. He was soon arrested as a revolutionary and returned to the Caucasus, then exiled to Bessarabia by the Russian authorities.
He returned in 1892 and took part in the First World Congress of the ARF, fervently upholding the principle of organizational decentralization. Zavarian drafted the bylaws of the Party with Kristapor and Rostom, and remained a member of the ARF Bureau until his death.
He remained in the Caucasus as a member and the secretary of the ARF Bureau until 1902, when he left for Geneva. There, in the absence of Kristapor, Zavarian coordinated the operations of the Western Bureau of the ARF. He was elected a member of the ARF Responsible Body of Cilicia at the Third World Congress (1904).
Traveling extensively while serving as a state agronomist, he was able to take advantage of his position to conduct research for the ARF. He toured the region of Cilicia with Vardan of Khanasor, and later visited Trebizond, Romania, Geneva, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt on organizing missions. In 1905, he founded an ARF Student Organization in Beirut. At the Fourth World Congress (1907), he submitted a detailed report on the situation of Armenians in Cilicia and the possibilities for insurrection in the region.
After the Ottoman Constitution was proclaimed in 1908, Zavarian spent two years in Moush and Sasoun, where he held various teaching positions.
He took part in the Fifth (1909) and Sixth (1911) World Congresses of the ARF and settled in Constantinople in the summer of 1911. A member of the Western Bureau, he again taught and also contributed to Azatamart (Battle for Liberation), the official newspaper of the ARF in Constantinople from 1908 to 1915.
Zavarian died suddenly in Constantinople of what is thought to have been a heart attack, while on his way to the Azatamart publishing house. He was 47 years old.
He was given a national funeral unprecedented in scope, with thousands in attendance. His body was taken to Tiflis to be buried.
Zavarian is considered the personification of the revolutionary and moral consciousness of the Dashnaktsoutiun.
All persons are our concern: the broad segments of the people, the masses that live by the fruit of their own labor, those deprived and oppressed classes that have always sustained society, those segments that have constituted the foundation of society and mankind’s creativity. They have been deprived of all rights, when, in essence, they are the ones who should be foremost endowed with such rights…
The progress toward perfection—within the bounds of nature— of all men, of all individuals, without class or national distinction, can take place only by creating conditions equally beneficial to all.
The perfection of individual human beings thus expands beyond the realm of the individual and becomes connected to the perfection (re-formation) of public organizations… And because the interrelations and compositions of public organizations historically vary among the nationalities of different countries, that re-formation, too, greatly varies and has differing characteristics.
The Dashnaktsoutiun, conducting its activities in places where Armenians live—Turkey, Russia, Persia—takes into consideration the conditions of those places. Moreover, having been born of the limitless suffering of the Armenian people, to this day the Dashnaktsoutiun bears its Armenian stamp, even with its purpose being the defense of all the rights—human, national, economic—of the Armenian and neighboring working masses.
Liberation from all sorts of persecution and oppression that constrain the development of the individual—that is the essential consideration for each Dashnaktsakan [ARF member]….
Because the persecution and oppression are multifaceted and occur so often, the struggle must be organized and well thought out. Not only must the most essential and fundamental of the methods of oppression be defined but also, and even more so, the methods of achieving change that are timely and possible to implement.
While evaluating all of that, one must consider not only the conditions of our own environment but also the experiences of other nations. The Ideal created by mankind regarding justice, truth, and progress remains to this day the bright star that guides us… without diverting us from our own [national] environment, without making us forget our true character.
From “Inch En Uzum Dashnaktsakannere” (What do the Dashnaks want?), unpublished