Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East

Summons to the Congress
July 20, 1920

To the Enslaved Popular Masses of Persia, Armenia and Turkey

The Executive Committee of the Communist International is convening on August 15 [sic], 1920, in Baku, a congress of the workers and peasants of Persia, Armenia and Turkey.

What is the Communist International? It is the organisation of the revolutionary working masses of Russia, Poland, Germany, France, Britain and America, who, awakened by the thunder of the world war and driven by hunger, have risen in order that they may no longer work for the rich, but for themselves, and in order that they may never again take up arms against their own suffering and deprived brothers, but instead bear arms to defend themselves against the exploiters. These working masses have understood that their only strength lies in unity and organisation, that these alone can guarantee their victory, and last year they formed a mighty organisation in the shape of the Third International. Despite all persecutions by capitalist governments, this International has in its eighteen months of existence become the moving spirit of all the revolutionary workers and peasants striving for liberation throughout the world.

Why is the Communist International convening at this time a congress of Persian, Armenian and Turkish workers and peasants? What has it to offer them? What does it want from them? The workers and peasants in Europe and America, fighting against capital, are turning to you because you, like them, suffer under the yoke of world capitalism and, like them, are obliged to fight against the world’s exploiters: because if you join with the workers and peasants of Europe and America, this will hasten the downfall of world capitalism and ensure the liberation of the workers and peasants throughout the world.

Peasants and workers of Persia! The government of the Kajars in Teheran, and its underlings the provincial Khans, have robbed and exploited you for centuries. The land which according to the shariat was common property has been seized for themselves by the lackeys of the Teheran government. They deal as they will with this land and impose taxes and dues upon you as they see fit. After sucking all the Juices out of the country and reducing it to poverty and ruin, they sold Persia last year to the British capitalists for £2 million, with which an army is to be formed in Persia which will oppress you even more than before. So that this army may squeeze taxes and tribute out of you for the khans and the Teheran government, they have sold to Britain the rich oilfields of Southern Persia, thereby co-operating in the plundering of your country.

Peasants of Mesopotamia! The British proclaimed the independence of your country, but 80,000 British soldiers stand upon your soil, robbing and killing you and violating your women.

Peasants of Anatolia! The British, Italian and French governments hold Constantinople under the muzzles of their guns: they have made the Sultan prisoner and forced him to agree to the partition of purely Turkish territory and to the placing of Turkey’s finances at the disposal of foreign financiers, so as more easily to plunder the Turkish people who have already been impoverished by six years of war. They have taken the coal mines of Heraclea [Eregli] and your seaports, sent their troops into your country, trampling your fields, they dictate their alien laws to the peaceful Turkish peasant, they want to make you their beasts of burden, on to whose backs they put whatever loads they choose. Some of your beys and effendis have sold out to the foreign capitalists, while others summon you to arms to fight against the foreign invader — but without allowing you to take power for yourselves in your own country and take over the lands and fields which the Sultan presented to various parasites, so that you may sow these fields for yourselves. And tomorrow, if the foreign capitalists should come to an agreement with your oppressors on less severe peace terms, your present leaders will use this opportunity to lay new chains upon you, just as this is being done by the landlords and former officials in the regions permanently occupied by the foreign armies.

Peasants and workers of Armenia! For years you have been the victims of foreign capital, which has talked at length about the massacres of the Armenians by the Kurds, has stirred you up to fight against the Sultan and has continually gained new advantages from your fight against him. During the war the foreign capitalists not only promised you independence but also incited your teachers, priests and merchants to lay claim to the land of Turkish peasants, so that unending war might rage between the Turkish and Armenian peoples, from which they might extract unending profit, since so long as this discord persists between you the foreign capitalists will profit by it, through frightening Turkey with the threat of an Armenian rising and frightening the Armenians with the threat of pogroms by the Kurds.

peasants of Syria and Arabia! The British and French promised you independence, but today their armies have occupied your country, they are dictating their laws to you, and you, after liberation from the Turkish Sultan and his government, have now been made slaves of the governments of Paris and London, which differ from the Sultan’s only in that they hold you down more firmly and plunder you more severely.

You understand all this very well. The Persian peasants and workers have risen against the treacherous government of Teheran. The peasants of Mesopotamia have rebelled against the British occupation forces and the British press writes about the losses suffered by the British army in fighting with the rebels near Baghdad.

Peasants of Anatolia! You are being urgently summoned to rally under the flag of Kemal Pasha, to fight against the foreign invaders, but at the same time we know that you are trying to form your own people’s party, your own peasants’ party, which will be able to carry forward the fight in the event that the pashas make peace with the predators of the Entente.

It has not been possible to establish peace in Syria, and you, peasants of Armenia, whom the Entente, despite all its promises, are allowing to starve, so as the better to keep control of you — you are coming to understand more and more clearly that hope of salvation through help from the capitalists of the Entente is utterly senseless. Even your bourgeois government of the Dashnaktsutyun party, those lackeys of the Entente, have been forced to turn to the workers’ and Peasants’ government of Russia with a request for a peace treaty and for assistance. Now we see that you yourselves are beginning to understand your own needs, and so we address ourselves to you, in Our capacity as representatives of the European proletariat, possessing great experience accumulated in our struggle, in order to help you Achieve your emancipation. We say to you: the time when the European and American capitalists could suppress you by means of their own forces has passed, never to return. Everywhere in Europe and America the workers have risen in arms against the capitalists and are waging bloody war against them.

While we have not yet vanquished world capitalism, the capitalists are already no longer able to dispose of their people’s blood at their own discretion. For two and a half years the Russian revolution has been struggling against the whole world. The French, British and American capitalists have tried by every means — armed force, famine — to conquer the Russian workers and peasants, to tighten a noose round their necks, and make them their slaves. They have not succeeded. The Russian workers and peasants have staunchly defended their government and formed an army of their own which has utterly smashed the reactionary forces supported by the capitalists of the Entente.

Workers and peasants of the Near East! If you organise yourselves and set up your own workers’ and peasants’ government, if you arm yourselves, uniting with the Russian workers’ and peasants’ army, you will beat the British, French and American capitalists, get rid of your oppressors and find freedom, you will be able to create a free world republic of the working people, and then use the riches of your native land in your own interests and those of the rest of working mankind, which will be glad to take them in exchange for the products you need, and will joyfully come to your aid. We want to talk about all this with you at your congress.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International, as the representative of the British, French, American, German and Italian workers, are coming to Baku in order to discuss with you the question of how to unite the efforts of the European proletariat with yours for struggle against the common enemy.

Spare no effort to ensure that as many as possible may be present on September 1 [sic] in Baku. Formerly you travelled across deserts to reach the holy places — now make your way over mountains and rivers, through forests and deserts 4 to meet each other and discuss how to free yourselves from the chains of servitude, so as to unite in fraternal alliance, so as to live a life based on equality, freedom and brotherhood.

We appeal first and foremost to the workers and peasants of the Near East, but we shall be glad to see among the delegates also representatives of the popular masses who live much farther off representatives of India — as well as representatives of the Moslem people who are developing freely in association with Soviet Russia.

On September 2 [sic] there must peacefully come together in Baku, for the liberation of the Near East, thousands of Turkish, Armenian and Persian workers and peasants.

May the congress proclaim to your enemies in Europe and America and in your own countries that the age of slavery is past, that you are rising in revolt and that you will be victorious.

May this congress proclaim to the workers of the whole world that you are defending your rights, that you are uniting with the mighty revolutionary army which is now fighting against all injustice and exploitation.

May your congress bring strength and faith to millions and millions of the enslaved throughout the world, may it instil into them confidence in their own power, may it bring nearer the day of final. triumph and liberation.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International

Chairman: G. Zinoviev Secretary: K. Radek

For the British Socialist Party: W. McLaine, Tom Quelch

For the British Shop Stewards Committee: J. Tanner, J. T. Murphy

For the French delegation to the Congress of the Communist International: A. Rosmer, Deslinieres, J. Sadoul

For the Italian delegation to the Congress of the Communist International: Bombacci, A. Graziadei

For the Communist Party of the USA: L. Fraina, A. Stocklitski

For the Communist Labour Party of the USA: A. Bilan For the Spanish Federation of Labour: Angel Pestaña

For the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party: N. Bukharin, V. Vorovsky, A. Balabanova, G. Klinger

For the All-Russian Central Council of the Trades Unions: S.A. Lozovsky

For the Communist Party of Poland: J. Marchiewski (Karski) For the Communist Party of Bulgaria and the

Balkan Communist Federation: N. Shablin

For the Communist Party of Austria: Reussler

For the Communist Party of Hungary: Rakosi, Rudnyanszky

For the Communist Party of Holland: D. Wijnkoop'

(Kommmistichesky Internatsional, no. 12, July 20, 1920)