Gourgen Mkrtich (Megerdich)
Yanikian (December 24, 1895, Erzerum, Ottoman
Armenia - March 27, 1984, USA) was an Armenian author, engineer and an
Armenian Genocide survivor who assassinated two Turkish consular
officials in California in 1973.
He studied as an engineer at the University of Moscow
and emigrated to the United States, where he wrote a number of novels
included The Triumph of Judas Iscariot (1950), Harem Cross (1953) and
The Voice of an American (1960).
On January 27, 1973, in the Biltmore Hotel, 78-year
old emigrant Yanikian had lured a consul general and vice-consul of the
Republic of Turkey, who expected to receive gifts of art treasures for
their government, but instead Yanikian pulled a Luger pistol from a
hollowed-out book and emptied it at them. He called the reception desk,
said he killed "two evils", then sat calmly on the patio awaiting arrest.
His stated purpose was "to demand justice" for the Armenian Genocide.
Armenians hoped Yanikian's trial would provide a
vehicle for proving the massacres in a court of law, while there were
still surviving witnesses but the District Attorney didn't agree.
Yanikian took the only Armenian Genocide witness stand, accompanied by
his friend and interpreter, Santa Barbaran Aram Saroyan, the uncle of
famous author William Saroyan. Yanikian told of his 26 family members
killed in the massacres, and how he watched in hiding as marauding Turks
slit his brother's throat. Finally, he said that he killed the Turkish
diplomats as representatives of the "government that had massacred his
He was sentenced to life in prison in July 1973 and
paroled in 1984, over the objection of the Turkish government. Two
months later, Gourgen Yanikian was dead of natural causes. He was 88
He is known to say, "Im not Gourgen M. Yanikian but
unacknowledged history coming back for the 1,500,000 Armenians whose
bones desecrate my invisible existence..."
In death, Yanikian became a symbol to many Armenians
of their resentment toward the Turkish government for refusing to
acknowledge the Armenian genocide. Upon Yanikian's death, one of his
attorneys, Bill Paparian, said that he "is now a piece of Armenian
After Yanikian's death, District Attorney David D.
Minner wrote: "Looking back, I regret that I did not allow the genocide
to be proven. Not because Yanikian should have gone free, but because
history's darkest chapters - its genocides - should be exposed, so their
horrors are less likely to be repeated".
Yanikian would later be appropriated by the Armenian
Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia as an iconic figure. At the
beginning, it bore the name of "The Prisoner Kurken Yanikian Group".
There is a conversation between the Brano and Gavra
from Olen Steinhauer's "Liberation Movements" dedicated to Yanikian's
"Who's Gourgen Yanikian?" Gavra asked.
"American citizen, Armenian descent. Two years ago he
invited the Turkish consul general and the consul to lunch at the
Baltimore Hotel in Santa Barbara, California. He shot them both with a
Luger. Killed them."
Margaret Bedrosian in her "The Magical Pine Ring"
calls Yanikian "the alter ego of all Armenians who have wanted to bare
Bahadir Demir Mehmet Baydar