Henri Barbusse

The Roy Case: A Protest

Source: The Labour Monthly, Vol. 7, May, 1925, No. 3, pp. 294-295
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
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[Last month THE LABOUR MONTHLY published an article—“Indian Political Exiles in France”—dealing with the expulsion from France of the well-known Indian revolutionary, Manabendra Nath Roy, who is familiar to our readers as a frequent contributor to these pages.

We print below a protest received from the “Pro-India Committee”—“Comité Pro-Hindou”—of Paris, signed by Henri Barbusse, the General Secretary of the Committee. This “Comité Pro-Hindou,” which is of recent foundation, includes many of the most distinguished of French intellectuals, such as Professors A. Aulard, Victor Basch, P. Langevin, Charles Richet, Marcel Cohen, A. Debierne, MM, Leon Bazalgette, Jean Richard Bloch, Georges Duhamel, Pierre Hamp, Charles Vildrac, and Mme. Magdeleine Marx. It takes as its motto, “To make India and its people better known to the world.”]

The Comité Pro-Hindou protests energetically against the expulsion, ordered by the French Government, of Manabendra Nath Roy, Indian Nationalist and revolutionary. It holds it to be inadmissible that a Government calling itself democratic, should consent to carry out such a measure of persecution on the demand of the British Government, against a man whose only reproach consists in his ardent endeavours to make his country free.

Manabendra Nath Roy, who is one of the most powerful militants in the Indian Nationalist Movement, and who has written several important books on this subject, was on the point of being expelled from Germany owing to the same injunctions of the British Government, which forbids him the right to live in British territory. Were he to return to India, he would be imprisoned, perhaps executed. It is hard to believe that a man against whom, we repeat, no charge can be brought, save that of having made propaganda against the exploitation of his fellow-countrymen—that is to say, a crime of opinion—can be thus pursued across the world, from country to country, without being able to live in one place.

In any case, if these are the brutal and inexorable arguments that England employs to rid herself of those who denounce her imperialism, should a Government such as that of France become a partner in such iniquities?

The Comité Pro-Hindou draws the attention of public opinion to these facts, and lays before it the grave question of the rights of peoples. Let all men among us, who still believe in the ideas of justice, liberty and freedom of the spirit, protest with us against this odious and savage strangling of a conscience!

It may perhaps be alleged that the reason for this expulsion lies in the political ideas of M.N. Roy, who is a Communist. But do not be deceived on this point; this is not the reason which underlies the expulsion which M. Flerriot has conceded to Mr, Chamberlain. Manifestly, it is the activity of the writer and propagandist in the cause of Indian freedom, who has consecrated himself since the age of fourteen years solely to the cause of the freedom of his country.

Yes or no, has our Government bound its hands to the imperial exigencies of Great Britain? Yes or no, is France to remain open or closed to champions of popular liberties from abroad? It is the right of asylum which is at stake. Is this great principle nothing more than an historic memory in France, in the face of international combinations? This is the question that is asked with anxiety by all those who, directly or indirectly, sympathise with the sacred cause of oppressed peoples.