Gregory Zinoviev

To the Oppressed People of Persia, Armenia and Turkey

Source: The Communist International, June-July, 1920, no.11-12, p.2513-2516 (1,665 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International is calling a Congress of workers and peasants of Persia, Armenia and Turkey, on the 15th of August 1920 in Baku. What is the Communist International? It is the organisation of the revolutionary working people of Russia, Poland, Germany, France, England and America, who, roused by the roar of the great war, and driven by hunger, have revolted in order to work for themselves, not for the rich and not to take up arms against their own suffering and unfortunate brothers, but to use them for their own defence against the exploiters. These working people have grasped the idea that their strength lies in unity and organisation—that only in this can they find a pledge of victory—and as a result they founded last year a powerful organisation in the shape of the Third International. The latter, in spite of all the persecutions of capitalist governments has become in the eighteen months of its existence the soul of the revolutionary workmen and peasants of all the world, striving for freedom.

Why does the Communist International call now the congress of Persian, Armenian and Turkish workmen and peasants? What does it offer them, what does it want of them? The workmen and peasants of Europe and America, fighting with capitalism, address themselves to you—because you, as well as they, suffer under the yoke of World Capitalism; like they, you have to struggle with the world plunderers, because your union with the workmen and peasants of Europe and America will accelerate the destruction of World Capitalism and assure the freedom of the workmen and peasants all over the world. Peasants and workmen of Persia! For centuries the Teheran-Cadjan government and its lickspittles—the provincial khans—have plundered and exploited you. The land was appropriated by the lackeys of the Teheran government. They dispose of their land, impose taxes on you according to their own judgement, and, having sucked all the juice out of the land and brought the country to a state of ruin and misery, they sold Persia last year to the British capitalists for the sum of two million in order that they could form in Persia an army, which would oppress you still more than it did before—and that this army should draw out of you taxes and contributions for the khans and the Teheran government.

They sold to England rich South Persian springs, aiding by this the complete looting of the country. Peasants of Mesopotamia! The, English have declared your country independent—but 80.000 British soldiers garrison your land, rob and kill you, violate your wives. Peasants of Anatolia! The British, Italian and French governments have held Constantinople under the fire of their guns—they induced the Sultan to agree to the division of purely Turkish Territory, and to the handing over of Turkish finances to the disposal of foreign financiers, so as to facilitate the pillage of the people of Turkey, impoverished by the six years war. They have occupied the Heracles coal-shafts and your forts, they send their troops to your country—trampling your fields; they dictate their laws, foreign to every peaceful Turkish. peasant: they want to turn you into beasts of burden on which any load can be thrust. Most of your “Beks” and “Effendis” have sold themselves to foreign capitalists: the others call you to take arms for the struggle against the foreign invasion, not admitting however, that you should take the power of your own country into your hands, seize the land and the fields granted by the Suitan to different parasites, and cultivate this land for your own benefit. And to-morrow, when foreign capitalists will have agreed with the oppressors on milder peace terms—then your leaders will profit by this to lay new claims on your lands, as is done in districts solely occupied by foreign troops—by the landowners and officials.

Peasants and workmen of Armenia! During long years you have been the victims of foreign capitalists, who lead long conversations on account of the massacre of the Armenians by the Kurds, who called you to fight the Sultan and at the same time made gain of continually new profits from your struggle with him. During the war, they not only promised you your independence, but induced your teachers—priests and merchants—to request the land of Turkish peasants in order to establish an eternal war between the Turkish and Armenian people, from which they could draw an eternal profit: for while these dissents continue among your people foreign capitalists will draw their profit—terrorising Turkey with the danger of Armenian revolt—Armenians with Kurd massacres. Peasants of Syria and Araby! The English and the French have promised you your independence, but meanwhile their troops have occupied your country; they dictate to you their laws, and you, having freed yourselves from the Turkish Sultan and government, you have become the serfs of the Paris and London governments, which distinguish themselves from that of the Sultan only by keeping you more firmly in their hands and plundering you more. You understand all this very well yourselves. The Persian workmen and peasants have revolted against the treacherous Teheran government. The peasants of Mesopotamia have started a revolt against British occupation by troops and the British Press informs us of the losses borne by the British army in the fight with the rebels near Bagdad.

Peasants of Anatolia! Kemal-Pasha calls you insistently under the banners, to struggle against the foreign offensive, but at the same time we know that you are attempting to form your very own party, your own peasant party, which will be capable of continuing the battle in the case of the Pasha’s concluding peace with the Entente’s spoliators. One cannot succeed in reestablishing calmness in Syria; and you, Armenian peasants, whom the Entente is starving to death, in order to hold you in her hands, you understand better and better that it is absurd to hope for salvation through the support of the capitalists of the Entente. Even your bourgeois government of the Dashnaktsutiun party, these servants of the Entente, even they are compelled to turn for help to the workmen and peasant government of Russia and ask for the conclusion of peace. Now we see that you begin yourselves to understand what you need—therefore we address ourselves to you as the representatives of European proletariate, profiting by the huge experience accumulated in our struggle with the aim of helping you to obtain your freedom. We tell you: the time when European and American capitalists could crush you by armed force—this time has vanished, to return no more. Everywhere in Europe, in America, workmen revolt—take up arms against the capitalists and lead a bloody struggle against them. If we still have not conquered world capitalism, at any rate the capitalists are powerless now to dispose of the blood of their people at their pleasure. During two years the Russian Revolution has been fighting against the whole world. French, English, American capitalists have tried every means—armed force, hunger—to conquer the Russian workmen and peasant, to tighten the rope round his neck and make a serf of him. They have not succeeded. Russian peasants and workmen firmly defended their power their own army which has dashed to pieces the reactionary troops supported by the capitalists of the Entente. Workmen and peasants of the Near East! If you organise yourselves, form your own workmen and peasant power, if you arm yourselves, join the Russian workmen and peasant army, you will conquer British, French, American capitalists, release yourselves from your oppressors, get your freedom, found a free world republic of workmen, avail yourselves of the riches of your land in your own interests and in the interests of the rest of the working humanity, which will gladly exchange them for the products that you need and come to your help in every way. We want to talk to you about all this at the Congress. The Executive Committee of the Communist International, as the representative of the English, French, American, German and Italian workmen, will come to Baku in order to discuss the question—how to join the efforts of the European proletariate with ours for the struggle with the mutual enemy. Do not grudge any effort to appear at Baku in the greatest possible number on the first of September. You who used to go to Holy places across wildernesses—get along now across mountains, rivers, woods and wildernesses, to meet one another and talk of how to free oneself from serfdom, join in one brotherly union and start an equal, free, brotherly life.

We address ourselves at first to the workmen and peasants of the Near East, but we will be glad to see among the delegates, the representatives of distant oppressed people—we mean the representatives of Indian,—as well as of Musulman people, who develop freely in contact with Soviet Russia. On the 2nd of September thousands of Turkish, Armenian and Persian workmen and peasants must peacefully assemble in order to free the Near East.

Let the Congress tell our enemies in Europe, America and in your country that the time of servitude has passed, that you rise and that you will conquer. Let this congress inform the workmen of all the world that you defend your right and that you join the powerful revolutionary army which fights now all injustice and spoliation. Let your congress fill with strength and faith the many millions of oppressed in all the world, let it inspire them with confidence in their own forces, let it hasten the day of final victory and freedom,

The Executive Committee of the Communist International
President: Zinoviev.
Secretary K. Radek,

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