Council of People’s Commissars, Appeal to the Moslems of Russia and the East. December 7, 1917
Original Source: Izvestiia, No. 232, 7 December 1917, pp. 1-2.
Great events are taking place in Russia. The end of the bloody war, which was begun with the purpose of partitioning other lands, is drawing near. The rule of the robbers and enslavers of the peoples of the earth is about to end. Under the blows of the Russian Revolution, the old world of serfdom and slavery is crumbling … A new world is being born, a world of workers and free men. At the head of this revolution stands the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government of Russia, the Soviet of People’s Commissars.,
All Russia is sown with revolutionary Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies. The power in the country is in the hands of the people. The laboring people of Russia have but one burning desire-to achieve an honorable peace and to aid the oppressed peoples of the earth to fight for their freedom.
In this holy task Russia is not alone. The call to liberty sounded by the Russian Revolution is reaching all workers of the East and the West. The exhausted, warring peoples of Europe already stretch out their hands to us, who are making peace. The workers and soldiers of the West already gather under the banner of socialism, storming the stronghold of imperialism. And far-off India, which for centuries has been oppressed by the “enlightened” plunderers of Europe, is already raising the banner of revolt, organizing its Soviets of Deputies, casting the hated slavery from its shoulders, and summoning the peoples of the East to the struggle of liberation …
In the face of these great events we turn to you, toiling and disinherited Moslems of Russia and the East.
Moslems of Russia, Tartars of the Volga and the Crimea, Kirghiz, and Sarts of Siberia and Turkestan, Turks and Tartars of Transcaucasia, Chechens and Mountaineers of the Caucasus–all those whose mosques and chapels have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled under foot by the tsars and oppressors of Russia!
Henceforth your beliefs and customs, your national and cultural institutions, are free and inviolable. Build your national life freely and unhindered. You have a right to do so. Know that your rights, as well as the rights of all peoples of Russia, are protected by the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies.
Defend this revolution and its plenipotentiary government!
Moslems of the East, Persians, Turks, Arabs, and Hindus, all those for whose lives and property, liberty and land, the greedy robbers of Europe have bartered for centuries-all those whose countries the plunderers who started the war wish to divide!
We declare that the secret treaties of the dethroned Tsar regarding the seizure of Constantinople, which were confirmed by the overthrown Kerenskii government, are null and void. The Russian Republic and her government, the Soviet of People’s Commissars, is opposed to the seizure of foreign territory; Constantinople must remain in the hands of the Moslems.
We declare that the treaty regarding the partition of Persia is null and void. As soon as military operations are brought to an end, the troops will be withdrawn from Persia and Persians will be guaranteed the right to choose freely their own destiny.
We declare that the treaty regarding the partition of Turkey and wresting from her of Armenia is null and void. As soon as military operations are brought to an end, the Armenians will be guaranteed the right to decide freely their political destiny.
Not at the hands of Russia and her revolutionary government does slavery await you, but at the hands of the marauders of European imperialism, of those who converted our fatherland into their ravished and plundered “colony.”
Throw off these ravishers and enslavers of your country. Now that war and desolation are tearing down the structure of the old world, when all the world is aflame with wrathful indignation against the imperialist plunderers, when every spark of revolt kindles into a mighty flame of revolution, when even the Indian Moslems, worn out and suffering under the foreign yoke, are starting a rebellion against their oppressors–now it is impossible to be silent. Do not waste any time in throwing from your shoulders the age-long enslavers of our land. Do not permit them longer to rob you of your native homes. You yourselves must be the masters of your country. You yourselves must build your life in your own way and according to your own desires. You have this right, for your fate is in your own hands.
Firmly and decisively let us strive for an honorable, democratic peace.
On our banners we proclaim the liberation of oppressed peoples of the world.
Moslems of Russia!
Moslems of the East!
We await your sympathy and support in this cause of building a new world.
People’s Commissar of Nationalities
V. Ul’ianov (Lenin)
President of the Soviet of People’s Commissars
Source: USSR, Sixty Years of the Union, 1922-1982 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1982), p. 35.