Middle East History: Middle East/USSR

A Manifesto to the Peoples of the East

Source: Kommunisticheskii Internatsional, no. 15 (Petrograd, December 20, 1920).
Transcribed: for marxists.org by Sam Berner 2008.
Proofread: Alvaro Miranda (August 2020).


Six years ago, there broke out in Europe a colossal and monstrous carnage, a world war in which 35,000,000 human lives were lost, hundreds of major cities and thousands of villages destroyed, European countries devastated, and all the peoples were subjected to the torment of unheard-of poverty and unprecedented starvation.

Up to the present time, this colossal war has been waged in Europe, only partially affecting Asia and Africa.

This war was waged by the European peoples and the peoples of the East took a relatively small part in it: only the forces of hundreds of thousands of Turkish peasants who were deceived by their rulers and led by German capitalists, and from two to three million Indians and Negroes – slaves, bought by English and French capitalists and, as slaves, hurled to death on the far-distant, foreign battlefields of France, in defense of the foreign, and to them, unintelligible interests of English and French bankers and industrialists.

Although the peoples of the East remained aloof from this gigantic war, although they took only a insignificant part in it, nevertheless, this carnage was waged, not for the countries of Europe, not for the countries and peoples of the West, but for the countries and peoples of the East.

It was waged for the partition of the entire world, and mainly for the partition of Asia, for the partition of the East. It was waged in order to determine who will control the Asiatic countries, whose slaves the peoples of the East will be.

It was waged in order to determine precisely who, the English or the German capitalists, will skin the Turkish, Persian, Egyptian, and Indian peasants and workers.

The monstrous four years of carnage ended in a victory for England and France. The German capitalists were crushed, and along with them the entire German people were likewise crushed, destroyed, and doomed to death by starvation. Victorious France, where the war almost wiped out the entire adult population and destroyed all the industrialized areas, bled in the struggle and after the victory remained completely powerless. And as a result of the colossal, barbaric carnage, imperialist England emerged the sole and all-powerful master of Europe and Asia. She, alone, in all Europe was still able to muster sufficient strength, for she waged the war with foreign hands, with the hands of the peoples she had enslaved, Indians and Negroes, and at the expense of her oppressed colonies.

Having emerged the victor and the complete ruler and master of half the world, the English government began to carry out the objectives for which the war was waged: it began to consolidate its hold on all the Asiatic countries and to bring about the complete enslavement of all the peoples of the East.

With none to interfere and fearing no one, the junta of greedy bankers and capitalists at the head of the English government quite openly and brazenly put aside all shame and began to reduce to slavery the peasants and workers of the countries of the East.

Peoples of the East! You know what England has done in India; you know how she transformed the multi-million masses of Indian peasants and workers into unprivileged and dumb driven beasts.

The Indian peasant is obliged to give up to the English government so much of his crop that the remainder does not suffice him even for a few months. The Indian worker must work in the factory of the English capitalist for such a pittance that he cannot buy with it the handful of rice necessary for his daily subsistence. Millions of Indians die from starvation annually. Every year millions of Indians perish in the swamps and jungles from hard labor, undertaken by the English capitalists for their own enrichment.

Millions of Indians, having failed to obtain their daily bread in their own very rich and fertile native land, are forced to enter the English army and go away, in order to eke out for the rest of their lives a difficult soldier’s existence and to wage endless wars in all corners of the world with all the peoples of the world, establishing everywhere ruthless English domination. Buying with their lives and blood an unending increase in wealth for the English capitalists, insuring them huge profits, luxury, and prosperity, the Indians themselves do not enjoy any human rights; the powers that be – the English officers, insolent sons of the English bourgeoisie which grew fat on Indian corpses – do not recognize them as people.

The Indian does not dare to sit at the same table with an Englishman, use the same quarters, travel in the same coach, study in the same school. In the eyes of the English bourgeois, every Indian is a pariah, a slave, a beast of burden, who does not dare to experience any human feelings, does not dare to make any demands. To each uprising brought about by the extremities of the Indian peasants and workers, the English retaliate with ruthless mass shootings. The streets of those Indian villages which revolted are covered with hundreds of corpses and those who remain alive are compelled by the English officers for their own amusement to crawl on their bellies and to lick the boots of their enslavers.

Peoples of the East! You know what England has done to Turkey. England has offered Turkey a peace by which three-fourths of Asia Minor, inhabited exclusively by Ottomans, including all the industrial cities, has gone to France, England, Italy, and Greece; and on the remainder of the Turkish land they have levied such taxes that the Ottomans have become perpetually insolvent, and have to pay tribute forever to England.

When the Turkish people refused to accept such a disastrous peace, the English occupied Istanbul, sacred to the Muslims, drove out the Turkish Parliament, arrested all the people’s leaders, shot the best of them, and exiled hundreds of others to the island of Malta, where they were imprisoned in the dark and damp dungeon of an old fortress. Now the English reign in Constantinople. From the Turks they have taken everything that it was possible to take. They have taken money, banks, factories and foundries, railroads and ships, and have cut off all access to Asia Minor. There is not a piece of material, not a piece of metal in Turkey. The Turkish peasant is forced to go without a shirt and he must plough the land with a wooden plough.

The English, with the aid of the Greek army, occupied the vilayet of Smyrna; with the aid of the French, Adana; and with the colonials, Bursa and Izmit. They have besieged the Turks on every side and are moving steadily into the interior of the country, attempting to bring about the complete exhaustion of the Turkish people, who, even aside from that, have been tormented and devastated by ten uninterrupted wars. And in Turkish areas already occupied by the English, the latter, true to their custom, scoff and jeer intolerably at the Turkish people. In Constantinople they occupied all the schools and universities for their own barracks, they forbade Turkish education, closed up Turkish newspapers, destroyed workers’ organizations, filled the jails with Turkish patriots, and handed over the entire population to the uncontrolled jurisdiction of the English police, which regards itself as having the right, without any pretext, and in broad daylight in the streets of Constantinople to club over the head people wearing a fez. To the English bourgeois, one who wears a fez, one who is a Turk, is a creature of the lowest species, a pariah, a slave, who can be treated as a dog.

In Turkish occupied localities, the English indeed treat the Turks like dogs, sending them to forced labor, and punishing them by beating them up with a stick. By every ruse, baseness, and compulsion they strive to transform Turkey into a conquered country and to compel the Turkish people’s masses to work for their enrichment.

Peoples of the East! What has England done to Persia? Having suppressed the peasant uprising against the Shah and the landowners, having shot and hanged thousands upon thousands of Persian peasants, the English capitalists have again restored the power of the Shah and the landowners who had been overthrown by the people, they have deprived the peasants of the landowners’ lands which they had seized, and have again reduced them to the status of slaves, have again reduced them to rayalis and unprivileged slaves of the mulkadars.

And then, having bribed the Shah’s corrupt government, the English capitalists, by means of a base and treacherous treaty, obtained complete ownership of all Persia, with the entire Persian people. They have seized all Persian wealth, stationed in all Persian cities garrisons composed of deceived Indians and Sepoys, bought into slavery, and they have begun to run Persia as a conquered country, treating the independent (in name) Persian people as a people reduced to serfdom.

Peoples of the East! What has England done to Mesopotamia and Arabia? Without any ado, she declared these independent Muslim countries to be her own colonies, drove from the land the former owners, the Arabs, deprived them of the best fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, deprived them of the best pastures indispensable to subsistence, took away the richest oil resources of Mosul and Basra, and thus depriving the Arabs of all means of subsistence, counted on starvation to make them her slaves.

What has England done to Palestine, where, at first, to please the Anglo-Jewish capitalists, she drove the Arabs from their lands in order to transfer these lands to the Jewish settlers, and then in order to provide an outlet for the discontent of the Arabs, she turned them against the very Jewish settlements she had established, sowing discord, hostility, and resentment among the various tribes, weakening both sides, in order to rule and govern herself?

What has England done to Egypt, where the entire native population already for the eighth decade is sighing under the heavy yoke of the English capitalists, a yoke even heavier and more ruinous for the people than the past yoke of the Egyptian pharaohs, who with the labor of their slaves built the huge pyramids?

What has England done to China? This enormous country she, together with her partner, imperialistic Japan, transformed into her own colony, exploiting and poisoning with opium the 300,000,000 people; and with the aid of her own and Japanese forces, she suppresses with unheard-of atrocities the revolutionary ferment which is beginning. By restoring the old despots overthrown by the people, she tries with all her strength to hold the multimillion people under the yoke of despotism, oppression, and poverty, in order to exploit them more successfully.

What has England done to Korea, to this flourishing country with its thousand years of culture? She handed her over to be devoured by Japanese capitalists, who now by fire and sword subjugate the Korean people to English and Japanese capital.

What has England done to Afghanistan where, by bribing the Emir’s government, she holds the people in oppression, poverty, and ignorance, trying to make this country into something resembling a desert, and by means of this desert to fence in India, which she has oppressed, from any contact with the outside world?

What is England doing in Armenia and Georgia where, with her gold, she holds the masses of peasants and workers under the yoke of the hated and corrupt Dashnak and Menshevik governments which terrorize and oppress their own peoples and drive them to fight against the peoples of Azerbaijan and Russia, liberated from the yoke of the bourgeoisie?

Even into Turkestan, Khiva, Bokhara, Azerbaijan, Daghestan, and the Northern Caucasus, English imperialism penetrates; its agents poke their noses into everything, distribute with a generous hand English gold obtained with the blood and sweat of oppressed peoples, and everywhere they try to support tyrants and despots, khans and landlords, to fight the budding revolutionary movement, and to hold at any cost all the peoples in oppression, ruin, poverty, and ignorance.

The oppression and ruination, poverty and ignorance of the peoples of the East serve as sources of enrichment for imperialist England.

Peoples of the East! To you belong the richest, the most fertile, the most extensive lands of the entire world; these lands, once the cradle of all mankind, could feed not only their own inhabitants, but also the population of the whole world; nevertheless, every year 10,000,000 Turkish and Persian peasants and workers now find for themselves neither a crust of bread nor employment on their own most fertile and spacious lands, and are compelled to leave their native land and to seek subsistence in foreign countries.

They are forced to do that because in their native land everything – lands, money, banks, factories, and shops – all these are in the hands of the English capitalists. They are compelled to do that because in their native country they are not the masters and do not dare to give any orders; on the contrary, the foreigners – the English capitalists – give them orders. Such was the situation formerly, such it was prior to the war, when imperialist England still had rivals in the rapacious German, French, and Russian imperialists, when she did not yet dare to clamp her paws on all the countries of the East, fearing that she might receive a blow on her extended paws from some rapacious rival.

But now, when imperialist England has crushed and weakened all her rivals, when she has become the complete master of Europe and Asia, now her ruling capitalists will give way to all their wolfish appetites and without restraint, without shame, will sink their rapacious fangs and claws into the bleeding body of the peoples of the East.

English capital is cramped in Europe, it has grown, it lacks opportunity, and European workers, enlightened by revolutionary consciousness, likewise become bad slaves; already they refuse to work for nothing, they demand good wages, good food. In order that capital may have elbow room, may produce a good profit, and may be able to throw a sop to the European workers to impede the growth of their revolutionary mood, in order that it may be able to bribe the top leaders of the working masses, English capital needs new lands and new workers – unprivileged and unenfranchised slaves.

And English capitalists have found these new lands in the Eastern countries, and the unprivileged and unenfranchised slave workers among the peoples of the East.

The English capitalists are trying to seize Turkey and Persia, Mesopotamia and Arabia, Afghanistan and Egypt, in order to take away the land from the peasants in these countries, by buying for a mere trifle all the plots of those who are ruined and deeply in debt; out of these plots they purchased they intend to create huge estates and plantations, and to drive the landless Eastern peasants onto them as farm hands and slaves. In Turkey, Persia, and Mesopotamia they want, by means of cheap labor, with the unpaid hands of the hungry Turkish, Persian, and Arab poor, to construct factories and foundries, to build railroads, and to work the mines. They want, by means of cheap production of factory products, to destroy native trades and millions of local craftsmen with whom the cities of the East are teeming, to throw them into the street, depriving them of work. By establishing huge firms, they want to ruin the small local merchants and to throw them likewise into the street, into the ranks of the proletariat who sell only their labor.

The English capitalists want to proletarianize in toto all the peoples of the East, to ruin the economy of all the peasants, of all the craftsmen, of all the merchants, and to drive them onto their plantations and into their factories, foundries, and mines, as starving slave laborers. Thereafter, by back-bending labor, by starvation wages, they want to squeeze from these enslaved Eastern peoples both sweat and blood. And to turn this labor sweat, this peasant blood, into increased value, into profit, into pure gold, into hard cash.

This is the kind of future imperialist England has in store for the peoples of the East!

England, with a population of barely forty millions, of which only one-fortieth constitutes a group of oppressors and exploiters, and the remaining 39 million belong to the oppressed and exploited workers and peasants, wants to dominate half the world, wants to hold in serfdom 800 million toilers living in the East. One English bourgeois capitalist, who already compels 39 English workers to work for him, likewise wants to force 2,000 more workers and peasants from Persia, Turkey, Mesopotamia, India, and Egypt to work for him. Two thousand and forty hungry and tortured people who enjoy none of the blessings of life, must toil all their lives for one do-nothing parasite – an English capitalist. One million such parasites and exploiters, English bankers and industrialists, want to reduce to serfdom 800 million proletarians of the East! And it should be said that they know how to achieve their goal, they have neither shame, conscience, nor fear, they have nothing but savage greed and unlimited thirst for gain. Ruin, hunger, blood, torment, the sighs of 800 million people, mean nothing to them. All that counts is profit, all that counts is gain.

And, in pursuit of this profit and gain, the English imperialists have a tenacious grip on the throat of the peoples of the East, and prepare for them a dark future: complete ruin, eternal slavery, no rights, oppression, and unlimited exploitation. That is what is in store for the peoples of the East, if the present English government retains its power, if imperialist England retains its strength and consolidates its domination over the countries of the East.

A pitiful handful of English bankers will devour hundreds of millions of peasants and workers of the East.

But this shall not happen!

Before the English capitalists, the rulers of imperialist England, rises the organized might of the peasants and workers of the peoples of the East, united under the red banner of the Communist International, under the red banner of the union of revolutionary workers, who have set as their goal the liberation of the entire world, of all mankind from any exploitation and any oppression.

The first Congress of the Peoples of the East throughout the whole world loudly proclaims to the capitalists who rule England: – This shall not happen!

You dogs shall not devour the peoples of the East, your pitiful handful of oppressors shall not reduce to eternal serfdom hundreds of millions of Eastern peasants and workers! You have grabbed too big a slice, you have bitten off more than you can chew, and it will choke you.

The peoples of the East have long stagnated in darkness and ignorance under the despotic yoke of their own rulers and tyrants, under the yoke of foreign conquerors and capitalists. But the roar of the world carnage, the thunder of the Russian workers’ revolution, which has cast off from the eastern Russian people the century-old chains of capitalist serfdom, has awakened them, and now, aroused from the sleep of many centuries, they are rising.

They wake up and hear a call to a holy war, to a gazovat. This is our call!

This is the appeal of the first Congress of the Representatives of the Peoples of the East, united with the revolutionary proletariat of the West under the banner of the Communist International.

It is we – the representatives of the toiling masses of all the peoples of the East – India, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashgar, China, Indo-China, Japan, Korea, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Daghestan, North Caucasus, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Khiva, Bokhara, Turkestan, Fergan, Tamaria, Bashkiria, Kirghizia, etc., united in an unbreakable union among ourselves and with the revolutionary workers of the West – we summon our peoples to a holy war.

We say:

Peoples of the East! Many times you have heard from your governments the summons to a holy war, you marched under the green banner of the Prophet; but all these holy wars were deceitful and false, and served the interests of your selfish rulers; but you, peasants and workers, even after these wars remained in serfdom and destitution; you won the blessings of life for others, but you yourselves never enjoyed any of them.

Now we summon you to the first genuine holy war under the red banner of the Communist International.

We summon you to a holy war for your own welfare, for your freedom, for your life.

England, the last mighty imperialist robber remaining in Europe, spreads over the Muslim countries of the East her black wings, trying to reduce the peoples of the East to her slaves and her prey.

Slavery, appalling slavery, ruination, oppression, and exploitation, she brings to the peoples of the East. Save yourselves, then, peoples of the East!

This is a holy war for the liberation of the peoples of the East, so that mankind shall no longer be divided into oppressors and oppressed, for the complete equality of all peoples and tribes, irrespective of the language they speak, irrespective of the color of their skin, no matter what religion they confess!

Peoples of the East! In this holy war, all the revolutionary workers and all the oppressed peasants of the West will be with you. They will help you. They will fight and die with you.

It is the first Congress of the Representatives of the Peoples of the East that speaks to you.

Honorary Members of the Presidium:
Radek (Russia), Bela-Kun (Hungary), Rosmer (France), Quelch (England), Reed (America), Steinhart-Gruber (Austria), Janson (Holland), Shablin (Balkan Federation), Yoshiharo (Japan).

Zinoviev, Chairman of the Congress

Members of the Presidium:
Ryskulov, Abdurashidov, Karriev (Turkestan), Mustala, Subhi (Turkey), Van (China), Karid (Lidisi), Mulabekdzhan, Rakhmanov (Khiva), Mukhamedov (Bokhara), Korkmasov (Daghestan), Digurov (Terek Region), Aliev (Northern Caucasus), Kostanyan (Armenia), Narimanov (Azerbaijan), Yenikeyev (Tatar Republic), Amur-Sanan (Kalmyk Republic), Makharadze (Georgia), Haidar Khan (Persia), Aga-Zade (Afghanistan), Narbutabekov (Tashkent), Makhmudov (Fergan), Takhsim-Baarri, Khaavis-Mahomed (Anatolia), Kuleyev (Transcaspia), Niyas-Kuli (Turkmenia), Kari-Tadzhi (Samarkand), Nazyr-Sedyki (India), Sidadzhedin, Kardash-Ogly (Daghestan), Yelchiev, Musayev (Azerbaijan), Azim (Afghanistan), Abdulayev (Khiva).

Ostrovsky, Secretary of the Congress


Last updated: 1 August 2020