Let’s look at the story with a wise look. Or why the theme of Basmachism became public?
The media, especially foreign and private, have begun to pay special attention to Basmachism in recent years.
This seems natural. Because the intelligentsia and thinking people usually look at the past and after years try to find out the truth, put forward their versions and give an assessment of past events. But if this is done without an objective and sound approach, then the lack of awareness of analysts is revealed, moreover, it is fraught with the introduction of society in error.
How can one explain such heightened interest in this topic? Who are the designers of this group of authors? How successful can they be? Who benefits? By these negative acts we protect national interests, or we will trample and then lose them? What opinion on this issue had witnesses of those events, among which were many outstanding personalities? Who really were the leaders of Basmachism movement? What backstage games took place then? In order to get answers to these questions, the correspondent of the newspaper Abdulqodiri Rahim interviewed with the Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Ibrohim Usmonov.
“Basmachis have never been defenders of religion and supporters of autonomy, but they were Mensheviks, first of all, merciless burglars, thieves and robbers” – Sadriddin Aini. “Who are the Fergana’s Basmachis?”, complete works, volume 9.
– Each page of history should be viewed from the perspective of what mark it left in the life of the people, and what gave for the future? There are many, at first glance, beautiful things that can’t be said about their consequences. And vice versa. There are apparently not very attractive things, but which carry a positive charge. If we want to look back at the history of the twenties of the last century, we must take this topic seriously, based on reliable facts.
In the history of the Tajik people, and mankind as a whole, not one political change took place without bloodshed and repression. Even the imposition of Islam came at the cost of a thousand lives of our fathers and grandfathers. They accepted Islam under duress. Since then this religion was alien to them. But over time, the Tajiks agreed that it happened and sincerely believed in Islam. But the fact that some people want to use Islam for their own selfish purposes, posing themselves as defenders of religion and almost prophets, is another aspect of this topic. As for the Basmachism during the establishment of Soviet power, we must strictly observe an objective scientific approach.
I would like to remind outstanding personalities whose scientific and artistic heritage has lasting value. Unfortunately, among today’s young people there are people who do not know them, moreover, they don’t want to know. They think that after the lapse of time they have become smarter than them and know more. They argue that the assessment and statements of Sadriddin Ayni, Saidrizo Alizoda and other historical figures about the events of the 20s of the last century, including about Basmachism movements, do not correspond to reality, since they do not correspond to their understanding and position. But they do not think about the fact that these outstanding people were children of their era. They saw everything with their own eyes, compared with the past and, based on this, came to their own conclusions. They preferred what seemed better to them.
Since I called the names of our two great personalities, I want to note one point. Saidrizo Alizoda was a man who brought the Tajik spirit in the government of Turkestan. In this government, the Turkic peoples of Central Asia, including Uzbeks, Turkmen, Kyrgyz and Kazakhs were considered major. Afghans, Jews and Indians were recognized as small. In the beginning Tajiks were neither among the first nor among others. Alizoda, turning to his superiors, achieved the opening of a Tajik branch in the Turkestan government. He himself became the head of this department, and on its basis, he established the Tajik newspaper called Shulai Inqilob exactly a hundred years ago in 1919. With the advent of this newspaper there was an opportunity to protect the Tajik people.
According to Alizoda, one of the most educated at that time, the Basmachism movement was anti-popular in nature, it was against our nation, our people, and the interests of our masses. In the same newspaper, and then in his monographs, Ayni also spoke out against this movement. So a number of articles published, including “Who are the Fergana’s Basmachis”. These articles convincingly reveal the essence of the Basmachism movement and the Basmachi personalities: murderers, thieves and robbers. According to the authors, they were not even Mensheviks. In their atrocities, they relied on a handful of people in the name of certain interests. This movement began in 1919 not in Bukhara, but in Turkestan.
When I was preparing for this interview, I came across a magazine, which tells about the leader of the Turkmen Basmachis, Junaydullo, who operated in the 20s of the last century. During negotiations with representatives of the then government, he set a condition that he would stop armed resistance only if a separate republic was not created on Turkmen land. Look, how slow-thinking, the limited short-sightedness and the lack of the slightest sense of patriotism. In order to undermine the foundations of statehood, our neo “Basmachis” established cooperation with interested foreign circles and began to call this the “liberation struggle”.
Let’s once again return to the statements and position of the eminent sons of the nation about Basmachism. Those who are trying to whitewash this movement claim that Ayni, Alizoda and others did so under pressure and in favor of the new government. Such a statement is completely unfounded. But don’t the apologists of Basmachism themselves politicize this topic? Do not express the interests of certain circles, which they patronize and guide? Let’s dot to it and determine. If the formation of the Soviet government and the disappearance of the Bukhara Emirate was a positive development for the benefit of the Tajik people, then the Basmachi movement should be recognized as anti-people and anti-state. If on the contrary, the Basmachism was a positive phenomenon, which is very doubtful.
What do I personally think about this? In the 80s of the last century, I worked as a teacher in Afghanistan for four years. Therefore, I know firsthand the life of the people in this country at that time, and in what position was the Tajik population. I have been in Afghan villages, and in Iran too. In the past, that is, until the twentieth century, Iran was considered a developed country in comparison with Tajikistan. When I compare these two countries with our republic, I am embraced by a feeling of joy and satisfaction from the fact that the Soviet power won. The Soviet state gave us the opportunity to build our Homeland.
“The Soviet state gave all that was necessary for the life of the peoples”, wrote Ayni in his article called “What did the Soviet power give us?”. How much we managed to use it is another question.
According to Ayni, the state has given us schools, hospitals, post offices, newspapers and magazines, all that was necessary for the life and enlightenment of the people. Why for all this we should not be grateful. The free-thinking people of that time, as Ayni successfully and effectively used these opportunities. When he got acquainted with such books as “History of Iranian Literature”, “History of Azerbaijani Literature”, “History of Literature of Turkey”, “History of Literature of Tatarstan”, he came to the conclusion that this is how he should serve his people and popularize our literary and scientific heritage. To this end, he began to write “Samples of Tajik Literature”, so that the world would recognize the Tajik nation as civilizing one. Ayni began to fight for the approval of the self-name Tajik and proved that it existed for centuries.
And now we will back to theme of Basmachism. Who was on it? All the peoples of Central Asia – Uzbeks, Turkmens, Kyrgyzs, Kazakhs, Tajiks. What idea and what purpose united them?
In 1977, according to my play, the performance called Basmachis Son was staged. The main meaning of this work was that the Basmachism is definitely a negative and anti-people movement. However, not everyone who took part in it was the enemy of the people. There were also those who got into it by mistake, coercion or delusion. When we condemn the Basmachism movement, we often forget this group of people. Another thing is the leaders and ideologists of this movement, pursuing their own interests and goals. In the aforementioned play, we are talking about the father of a boy who joined the Basmachism in order to prevent robbery and violence in his native village. Of course, this topic is not new.
Back in Soviet times, people’s writer of Tajikistan Sattor Tursun wrote about people who became Basmachis by mistake. In Jalol Ikromi’s play “The Treason”, this topic is also revealed. In this work, Asad Mahsum plays the main role as one of the leaders of the movement. Over time, he is convinced that the slogan “free people of Bukhara” does not meet the interests of the residents of Bukhara and the Tajik people as a whole, that this slogan is an invention of certain interested circles abroad. He repents that he went on the false and wrong path.
What are the essence, meaning and content of the Basmachism ideology? To do this, it is necessary to pay attention to the names of the main leaders of the Basmachism movement, such as Anvar Pasha, Qaroqizil Pasha, Salim Pasha, Yusuf Ziya, Surayo Afandi. All of them are of Turkic origin, and not Central Asian, not counting Ibrahimbek. They came from Turkey and organized the Basmachism movement here.
And now we think about what they had to do with this land. Some apologists of Basmachis claim that the Red Army was alien to us. Let’s say. And then who are the Turks? Relatives? For what purpose did they want to spread the Turkic ideology in Central Asia?
Those who are interested in the history of our people should take into account one thing, namely, that, since the 10s of the last century, the Turks climbed out of their skin so that the language of the peoples close to them – Uzbeks, Turkmens, Kyrgyzs, and Kazakhs became completely Turkish. They wanted to establish their own language here, and to ensure its status as a state. Their goal was to unite the Turkish-speaking peoples under one flag. They believed that the standard-bearer of this union could be Emir of Bukhara.
And now we have to answer, who was Emir of Bukhara? Some are proud that during the reign of the Bukhara emirs our language, that is, Tajik was the state language and, in their opinion, if the emirate was preserved, the Tajik language would also remain as the state language. Unfortunately, this statement is erroneous. I will give an example. In 1742, today’s Afghanistan separated from Iran and declared itself Khorasan state. The founders of this state were Pashtuns, but Dari was considered the state language. In 1801, this state was renamed Afghanistan. Gradually, in some regions, the Pashto language began to crowd out Dari and was declared the second state language. Over the years, in the early 60s of the last century, Pashtuns raised the question of declaring their language as the first state language. Even during the reign of Dovud Khan, those who spoke and carried out their activities in the Pashto language were in preferential terms. By this, I want to say that such a situation would also have arisen in Bukhara, that is, the Turkic languages would begin to crowd out the Tajik.
It is true that at the beginning of the 20s of the last century in Bukhara the state language was Tajik, but one should not forget that with the formation of the Bukhara People’s Republic, they began to narrow the field of activity of the Tajik language. It is also true that it was before the advent of Basmachism. The great Ahmadi Donish in his works mentions Bukhara as a Mangit state. He never calls the government in Bukhara Tajik. If it was so, he would proudly declare it.
The Turks who arrived in this country were in many ways close to the mangyts and in the name of their political interests they created Basmachism movement in order to use it in the fight against the Russian state. Therefore, this movement can be called the union of Turkic-speaking peoples. Pan-Turkism was to the detriment of not only us, the Tajik, but Uzbeks, Kyrgyzs, Kazakhs, and Turkmens. During the two hundred years of its reign, the Mangyty state did not build anything on the whole territory, that is, on the whole of Central Asia, except for a few madrasahs in Bukhara, but not in the regions. The history is a witness. In other words, Mangyt state did not contribute to the development, the 50 years of the existence of the new system substantively proved its advantage. Roads, including railways, bridges were built, cities appeared and new lands began to be mastered.
Continuing this tradition in the period of independence, we built a grandiose structure in Tajikistan, located on the territory of Eastern Bukhara, once the most backward suburb of the Emirate. Let’s imagine, if the Basmachism won, would we have our own statehood today, would the Tajik people achieve all that it has achieved? It is hard to believe. The foundation of our national statehood was laid at that time. Since 1920 until 1990, so many objects were built on the territory of Central Asia, which we do not observe during this entire period in Afghanistan, as well as in Iran. In the letter of Emir of Bukhara to the League of the Nation, to which supporters of the Basmachism movement often refer, there is not a single word about any creative work. We have already mentioned the leaders of this movement, who were from Turkey. Now let’s name our homegrown: Ibrahimbek, Avliyoquulbek, Doniyorbek, Qarakhonbiy, Tughaysari. They were just the guides of the ideology that originated in Turkey.
Since then much water has flowed, we are a new generation, but we have heard about the disastrous consequences of Basmachism from our fathers and grandfathers. Did the statement of those who did not live at that time, and God forbid, that they read about it more than true eyewitness accounts? In this regard, I would like to point out two things. There are three books containing information about that time. One of them is the “Useful Story” by Muhammadali ibn Muhammadsaid Baljuvoni. The author was not a supporter of the Soviet state, but he honestly described the events of those years and the changes that occurred, which we also talked about. He writes that if the victory had been won by the Basmachism, the whole region would have been ruined.
Supporters of the Basmachism movement often rely on information provided in the books of the Turks who arrived here. One of them is called “The History of Turkestan”. Of course, it reflects the interests of this movement and its leaders. Strangely enough, the statements of these foreigners are more important for the supporters of the Basmachism, but not the wisdom of Ayni, Alizoda and our other figures. They also use the book “The Riot of the Basmachis” by Tugan Validov. Who is Tugan Validov? He is former leader of the Communist Party Organization of Bashkiria. He was accused of anti-Tatar nationalism and removed from office. Validov came to Central Asia, found like-minded people here and tried to create a Communist party of Muslims, and then a Muslim state. But defeated, fled to Turkey.
He taught at the university and in his own way described the events that occurred, including in Central Asia. By the way, he confirms the participation of the Turks and their families in the political life of the Bukhara Emirate. In particular, he writes about the fact that they supplied Basmachis from Turkey and even England with weapons. He regrets that the Turks could not use the available opportunities and failed. How, then, can it be argued that Basmachism is a liberation movement, and the establishment of Soviet power is violence and exploitation? It is clear as daylight that it is not.
Every year, on behalf of members of the Qushbegi Cabinet, the chief minister, the tax collectors flew like fly to the mountain villages of Eastern Bukhara. They robbed the grain and livestock of population. Ayni accurately described the predatory taxation system in the novel called “Dohunda”. In order to capture people, they wove tangled and tied with debt bonds. They instilled fear in the inhabitants, because they differed little from brigands and robbers, and even engaged in kidnapping.
Due to the many contradictions existing in Central Asia, it was divided into two parts or two states in the second half of the XIX century. The first under the name of Turkestan became part of Russian Empire. This state included the Fergana Valley, Samarkand, Tashkent, Turkmenistan, Qaraqalpaqstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. The territory of the Bukhara Emirate was considered a separate state. 48 percent of Tajiks lived in Turkestan. But there they had no power and they were not recognized as a nation. Later, thanks to the efforts of a number of prominent Russian scholars, such as Khanykov, Barthold, Shishov, Pavlov, it was proved that the Tajiks are indigenous people.
The official language in Bukhara was Tajik, and in Turkestan – Turkic.
I am absolutely sure that the books of an ant-Turk character, in which we see an attempt to glorify Basmachism, have a magnificent influence on our some ignorant readers, especially the youth. It is enough to compare the achievements of sovereign Tajikistan with the social and political life of today’s Afghanistan. Is it not clear that we would be in this position if the Basmachis had won? There the Tajiks are forced to fight for the assertion of their rights. As I said above, with the formation of the state of Khorasan they were still considered. But not now. In Bukhara, they were called Turks like all other Nations.
They consciously called the state language Farsi in order to emphasize that this language, despite its fame and influence, is alien to Central Asia. Bukhara and Samarkand have long existed quarters where immigrants from Iran lived. They were called Porsiyon. The officials of the Bukhara Emirate thus wanted to show that the state language of Bukhara belongs to them and is not related to the Tajiks. And only with the advent of the Red Army, the violated rights of the oppressed people began to recover. President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in one of his speeches emphasized that the October Revolution laid the initial foundations of independence, which we finally gained in 1991 and therefore our achievements and opportunities today are largely related to the former state.
Thus, the Soviet state, which defeated the Basmachism movement that would inevitably lead us to decline, should definitely be considered as a positive phenomenon and a bright strip in the history of our people.
Our intelligentsia and sane people should talk about it, because at that time the dreams of the labour people of our republic realized. And thereby repulse various reactionary circles that distort history.
The Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, realizing the danger posed to peace and stability by the blatant statements of those who wish to destabilize the situation in the country, said in his annual Address to Parliament that we will never forget the horrors of the civil war of the 90s of the last century, which we were imposed by the enemies of the Tajik nation, and confidently declare that our people will never fall into the networks of enemies and ill-wishers who have not yet refused from their dirty goals”. (pages 40-41).
“In the difficult situation of the modern world, it is very important that our youth, as part of it, as in the 1990s, not be influenced by the propaganda of radical religious groups and ill-wishers of the Tajik nation. Our youth should always be vigilant and ready to protect the interests of the Tajik people and the state”, noted President (page 34).
The concern of the President is caused by the fact that “the threat of terrorism and extremism in the world is increasing”.
Taking this into account Leader of the Nation Emomali Rahmon stated that the main focus should be on preventing terrorism and extremism, joining and adjoining citizens of the country to terrorist and extremist organizations and movements, and returning to Homeland people who were brought down from the correct path.
I have repeatedly seen the enemies of this and that state up close. I talked with them and know them well. Often, meetings with them reminded me of events of distant years, of the Basmachism movement, and each time convinced that the current detractors of sovereign Tajikistan, as well as the Basmachis then, act on the instructions of their hard-line patrons and in the name of their selfish ends.
As it is known, the entire secret becomes clear. In the archives, mainly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, there are still many classified documents about the atrocities of the Basmachism. I want that to be an open access to these documents. Then those who want to whitewash and glorify Basmachism will not be able to mislead people and distort the historical truth. It should always be remembered that there are nations that outnumber us, but have not managed to find their own statehood. For example, take the Kurds. This happened because they were scattered and had a mighty patron. We are lucky Tajik, after centuries we have gained our national statehood and proudly declare that our homeland is independent Tajikistan. Therefore, the task of the current generation, especially of the intelligentsia, is to look back at recent and past history with a wise eye.
And then everyone will understand that there were certain forces who wanted to save the Bukhara Emirate with its laws and the poor with the help of Basmachism. Then the peoples would not be free and would not declare their nation. They would all be called “Muslims” and they would be easy to govern. And over the Tajiks in this case it hung like the sword of Damocles threat of extinction. Fortunately, the peoples of Central Asia understood who is who, who is friend, and who is enemy. The statement of leaders and members of a banned terrorist organization who are on the run outside the country, and who are trying to throw stones to our garden by the guidance of their patrons, remind me that the leaders of the Basmachism movement also worked closely with foreign circles, including with British intelligence.
According to the Tajik scientist Mullah Erkaev, the leadership of the Basmachism movement, including Ibrahim Bek, who was then praised by the British media and even called a “prince,” coordinated their actions with the officers of the British intelligence service. But this did not lead to the desired results, because the people saw through these “woefully-defenders of the faith” and “false advocates of freedom” and did not support them. Is this not a historical lesson for the members of the Islamic renaissance party (IRP) who idolize wealth, and not the interests of their people?
And the head of our state is absolutely right when he calls on youth to be vigilant and cautious. Today, it is obvious that the apologists of Basmachism are the apologists of ISIS, whose destructive actions we see in Iraq and Syria. Certain terrorist circles like Basmachis confuse young people and involve themselves as “Mujahideen” in Iraq, Libya and Syria, ostensibly to defend Islam. These same reactionary forces fanned the terrible fire of war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Fortunately, our people, relying on prudence and rallying around the Leader of the Nation Emomali Rahmon, managed to put out the flames of war and establish lasting peace in our land. And those who think that it is possible to break our peace and national unity should once and for all understand that this will never happen.
I also recall the words said on the eve of the signing of the Agreement on Peace and National Accord by the chairman of the Union Tajik Opposition Saidabdullah Nuri. “Yes, we have killed, destroyed, and now we must make our efforts for renaissance and improvement”, he said then.
These words should serve as a lesson for IRP members, and for the people of Tajikistan as a reminder of the need to always be vigilant, strengthen peace, stability and unity. Under the wise leadership of President Emomali Rahmon, we are building a state, in which dominated national spirituality and respect for world values and there is no place in it for medieval ignorance and backwardness, what would like the short-sighted renaissance people, whom God has deprived the mind and feelings of love for the Homeland – Mother.