Edited and Translated
The University of Minnesota
© Iraj Bashiri, 1996
Department of Slavic and Central Asian Languages and Literatures
The University of Minnesota
© Iraj Bashiri, 1996
The archival documents and the newspapers of the time speak eloquently about the national-administrative divisions of Central Asia. In fact, they make a good case for a political, economical, and cultural need for the divisions. But most of the so-called well-documented and substantial accounts dealing with the historical, legal, and philosophical values of this division are not totally reliable. After all, how many opinions can there be regarding the necessity of the administrative divisions of Central Asia in relation to the formation of Central Asian history and of the Soviet Union as a whole? But unfortunately, the literature on specific mistakes and deviations is at best scanty. Some of it can be intimated from the words of the leaders of the time. "What is important for them," wrote J. V. Stalin about the peoples of the republics, "is not so much the internal structure but the external politics, the expansion of their own republics, the conflicts with neighboring republics, their desire to take over the plots of land belonging to their neighbor and, as a result, looking good to the bourgeoisie-regionalists of their country." 1
The hostile actions of the Pan-Turkists against the Soviet government affected the Tajiks the most. Whether in the Republic of Bukhara or Turkistan, they were assigned the most far-off and the most poverty-stricken corner and called it "The Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan." Nevertheless, the comprehensive assistance extended to Tajikistan by Russia, the Soviet government, and the Central Asian Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) should not be underestimated; they enabled the republic, after the divisions, to form its administration, complete its soviet apparata, and expand its urban and educational programs among the workers.
The discussion of the national-administrative divisions began as early as 1920. It was prompted by national friction among the peoples of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkistan. The Pan-Turkists were positioning themselves effectively to separate Turkistan from the RSFSR and transform it into a republic for all the Turks of Central Asia. The resolution of the problem was further expedited by the struggle that ensued between the local leaders and the officials, i.e., the Russian-speaking representatives of the Party and the Soviet officials dispatched by the Center. During the four years that preceded the national divisions, V. I. Lenin studied the documents presented by the Turkistan Commission and, in his decrees on the role of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia in Turkistan, emphasized the necessity of the implementation of the divisions. He decreed that the issue should be studied and that the following points should be taken into consideration:
The point is that in the preparation of the documents, in addition to the members of the Turkistan Commission, there were some ardent nationalists and Pan-Turkists, like T. Riskulov. Riskulov participated, as early as 1921, in the Second All-Russian Assembly of the Turks, in Moscow. He even had protested against Lenin's statement concerning the need to fight Pan-Islamism and its related movements. In this context, Riskulov had stated that, "Pan-Islamism and Pan-Turkism were important movements for the Muslim peoples." That is why they, and new Turkey, follow the example of Kemal Ataturk. That is also why the Kemali movement encompasses all the Turkish peoples of the East." 5
The same Riskulov group was the most vocal about the establishment of a so-called "People's Turk Republic." In the document that dealt with the internal structure of Turkistan, we read, "The national groups in Turkistan must be given the right to establish autonomous republics, and the national minorities must have the right to form communes. The Central Executive Committee of Turkistan is instructed to invite a meeting of the Uzbeks, Kyrgyzes, and Turkmens to decide what form their people should take in the future." 6
The actual national-administrative divisions of Central Asia commenced at the beginning of 1924. Soon after, the 12th session of the Communist Party (b) of Russia sought to resolve the problems arising from the divisions, especially in Central Asia. On February 25, 1924, the open Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bukhara discussed the "Question of the Demarcation of Soviet Central Asia and the Creation of Several Republics." Then, on March 10, 1924, a number of definite resolutions were made by the Executive Bureau of the Communist Party of Bukhara. These resolutions included the formation of two republics, Uzbekistan and Turkistan. The resolutions say the following about Tajikistan, "The Tajiks, from Maschah to Gharategin and Gharm, should form an autonomous region within Uzbekistan-Bukhara." 7
With this anti-peoples resolution, the Pan-Turkists, knowingly, tried to prove that the Tajiks as a whole were mountain people. Furthermore, they did not wish to concede that the ancient cities of Samarqand, Bukhara, Khujand, and many river valleys in Central Asia belonged to the Tajiks. These and similar resolutions were routinely accepted by the Soviet and Party authorities; and all these decisions played fateful roles in the future life of the Tajiks. Even such regions as Hissar, Vakhsh, Kulab, and Zarafshan were not included, let alone Gorno-Badakhshan, Surkhan Dariya, 8 Qashqa Dariya 9, and the separate cities and regions of the Ferghana valley, where the majority of the population is Tajik. Even geographically speaking, this was a foolish division. It was an act of utter irresponsibility to try to create an autonomous region out of two areas that were divided by a mountain range; two areas that were not connected to each other most of the year due to climatic obstacles; and two areas which did not enjoy cultural centers so that they could create a meaningful life for their people. Neither did anyone suspect that this was an intentional move designed to drive the Tajiks into a special "reservation" where they would not have access to their historical, economic, and cultural centers.
In any event, the question of the national-administrative divisions of Turkistan was examined in the joint session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkistan and the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of Turkistan where Abdulla Rahimbaev, the secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkistan, spoke twice. Without the slightest hesitation, he stated that, "From a governmental and national point of view, Turkistan's principal inhabitants were the Uzbeks, Kyrgyzes, and Turkmens. The rest," he said, "are small ethnic groups." 10 This is how the Tajiks came to be included among the minority groups. When the Pan-Turkists observed that Rahimbaev was on their side, they gave him full authority to present their views not only in the local meetings, but in the meetings in Moscow, as well.
On April 5, 1924, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) heard A. Rahimbaev's report "About Turkistan, Bukhara, and Khwarazm (concerning the establishment of national republics)," and approved the Party structures proposed for the administration of Central Asia. The Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) ordered its own Central Asian Bureau "to prepare its suggestions and the necessary documents." 11
When this problem was being examined by the Joint Central Asia Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) and the Executive Committee of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkistan, Faizullah Khojaev and Usman Ishankhajaev 12 brought up the question of Tajikistan. For the sake of historical integrity, we should say that the situation of the Tajiks genuinely concerned the People's Superintendent of Soviets, F. Khojaev. This can be intimated from his speech in which he said, "Regarding the Tajiks, two variants must be considered. They must either enter our republic (i.e., Uzbekistan, R. M.) as an independent entity or be given full independence. In either case though, we are not privy to the inner thoughts and sentiments of the Tajiks themselves." 13
After discussions, somewhat altering his previous statement, he conceded that the number of the Tajiks in the People's Soviet Republic of Bukhara and elsewhere in Central Asia was small. "If we study the situation in which these people find themselves, we realize that they lack both governance and schools that teach in the Tajiki language," he added. "In addition, the same number of Tajiks live in the Zarafshan valley; they speak the same language and share the same cultural values and administrative structure. In view of that, there is no need to create a special boundary between the two. Both groups can be placed in the same territory designated either as an autonomous region or as some other form of a union. We must reach an agreement with the Tajik officials and form the Tajikistan republic in Uzbekistan. 14 In reality, even after the victory of the October Revolution, the establishment of the Soviet government, and the two republics of Turkistan and Bukhara, the Tajiks still did not have their own schools, official language, and a governmental structure."
The speaker was the Director of the Superintendents of the People's Soviet Republic of Bukhara, F. Khojaev who, in spite of his awareness of the official use of Persian over the centuries, did not support the retention of Tajiki. After September 2, 1920, Tajiki was eliminated as the official language of Bukhara. In fact, it was Khojaev's government that made Uzbeki the official language of instruction for both the Uzbeks and the Tajiks. The 1920 discontinuation of the publication of the only Tajiki newspaper, The Flame of Revolution, was another indication of the Pan-Turkists' lack of sympathy for the language and culture of the Tajiks.
What was the outcome of this process? The language, culture, literature, and the long history of the Tajik people were impeding the progress of the nomadic tribes of Central Asia. The tribal inhabitants who owed their civilization to the Tajiks, therefore, decided to take over the culture of the Tajiks along with its rich scholarship, art treasures, and scientific research. But, it was a great mistake for the Pan-Turkists to discredit Tajiki, as if it were a useless language. No doubt, the offspring of those very individuals who sentenced Tajiki to death, or who had wished Tajiki to disappear from the face of the earth, will be speakers of Tajiki. Tajiki is one of those languages that defy death. Besides, not all the politicians who, during those dark days, were deciding the fate of the Tajiks, were so disposed. There were some benevolent people among them as well. They rose against the claim that the people of Central Asia were one (i.e., Turks R.M.). One of those who criticized this idea was U. Ishankhajaev. In his speech he recognized five distinct peoples in the country: Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmens, Kyrgyzes, and Tajiks. 15
The evidence outlined above indicates that even at the early stages, when the Pan-Turkists and the Great-Uzbek chauvinists were implementing their version of the national-administrative divisions, some people with foresight saw the necessity for the creation of an independent Tajikistan to include the disparate and desolate regions being considered at the time.
The complex nature of the national-administrative divisions, especially the manner in which people wanted these divisions to take place, required the establishment of a special commission. For this reason, the Central Asian Bureau of the Communist Party (b) of Russia established the Commission. In turn, this Commission assigned three subcommissions: one Uzbek, one Kazakh, and one Turkmen. The Tajiks were allowed one representative, Ch. Imamov, 16 as part of the Uzbek subcommission. In the resolution of the Central Asian Commission, the following is stated about the Tajiks: When it becomes necessary to accede to the wishes of the Tajik members of the Party and form an independent session to discuss self-determination and administrative divisions, the leadership of the meeting should be given to Comrade Abdulla Rahimbaev. There was, of course, a reason behind the choice of Rahimbaev for the resolution of the Tajik problem. Rahimbaev's position vis-à-vis the issue of Tajik self-determination was apparent even to those who refused autonomy for Tajikistan. He envisaged Tajikistan as an autonomous region comprising the backward areas of Maschah, Gharategin, and Darvaz and he remained steadfast in his position to the end. He was a Tajik but, when working at the high levels of governments of Tajikistan, Bukhara, or Khwarazm, he changed his citizenship several times to fit the tasks that were assigned to him. This was no accident. His ambitious ideas, regionalism, and cosmopolitan nature, from the beginning of his political life until his imprisonment, are all reflected in his directorship of the Soviet of the People's Commissariat of Tajikistan. We can review his past activities, formation of character, and opinion about issues in his own words:
"I was born in a wealthy Tajik merchant family of Khujand with a regional (national) leaning. I studied at Khujand's famous, but traditional, Ostomov Teacher's Training College and graduated in 1917. During the 1917 Revolution, I still was an ardent nationalist. In May 1917, I participated in the All-Turkistan Muslim Conference in Tashkent, led by the famous nationalist, Behbudi. 17 I participated in this Conference as a guest. At the time, I was entertaining the thought of establishing a republic of Turkistan within the Russian Federation. After graduation, I became the first secretary of the bourgeoisie nationalist organization, the Islamic Soviet. In opposition to the 3rd meeting of the Soviets (The Russian S.S. Republic-R.M.), at the end of the same year, the bourgeoisie nationalists called an All-Muslim conference.
The conference declared the creation of an Autonomous Bourgeois Democratic Turkistan and elected the government of Turkistan to be led by Mustafa Chokaev. 18 Then, at the beginning of 1918, the "Muslim Workers" Conference was called. This conference was composed of the small bourgeoisie. I was chosen as a representative to this meeting. ... I was also chosen to participate in the People's Soviet. The meeting ratified the declaration of autonomy for Kokand. 19
In January, 1918, the government was defeated. At the time of the defeat of the Kokand government, I was in Khujand afraid for my anti-Soviet activities, I had fled to the Dashti Murda. At the end of 1918, I secretly came to Tashkent. ... which also was under the influence of the pan-Turkists. ... Still early in 1918, after the establishment of Soviet power in Turkistan, when the Bolsheviks and the Left S.R.'s, were in key positions, Tursun Khojaev and Nizam al-Din Khojaev, the influential nationalists of old Tashkent, ordered the following, 'We nationalists should follow neither the Communists nor the Left S.R.'s. To further our affairs, however, we must be familiar with the actions of both. Some nationalists, therefore, must accompany the Left S.R.'s and some the Bolsheviks and let us know what they want. We must tackle the problems according to our needs.'" 20 Continuing his confessions, he writes, "In 1919, under the direction of Munavvar Qari, the 'Unity and Progress' organization was formed. The organization was led by the Central Committee, the Executive Committee of which consisted of Munavvar Qari, Turar Riskulov, Faizullah Khojaev, Tursun Khojaev, N. Turakulov, and others. The main objective of the organization was 'the elimination of the Soviet government and the establishment of a bourgeois-democrat government headed by Turks and Tatars.'" 21
This rather lengthy quotation is necessary for proving our point. It is especially necessary because we are dealing with a historical truth which can be established only by presenting incontrovertible evidence. All the reasons given above in the document, or more precisely in the confession of Abdulla Rahimbaev, correspond to the situation in Turkistan (or Central Asia as it was called later) after the establishment of Soviet rule. Most of what he says is incomprehensible to the scholars in the field, let alone to the general reader. But there is much in this confession that, until recently, neither group was informed about. Even today, there are some "strictly secret" documents which are kept out of the reach of researchers and, of course, out of the sight of the public at large.
In order for the Central Committee of the Central Asian division of the Communist Party (b) of Russia to appoint Rahimbaev as the representative of the Tajik people during the process of national-administrative divisions, the Extraordinary Representative of RSFSR in the People's Soviet Republic of Bukhara, A. Znamensky, a man of foresight and an intellectual in the true sense of the word, a man knowledgeable about the history, culture, and literature of the Tajik people, wrote a letter to the acting director of the Central Asian Bureau, O. Karklen (September 1, 1924). In that letter, Znamensky explained the mission of the projected delegation from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, which included, A. Rahimbaev, A. Mevlanbekov, and I. M. Vorekas. He further wrote, "The last two individuals are chosen conditionally, but the candidacy of Rahimbaev as the secretary general is, in all events, definite. It is true that Rahimbaev has a number of shortcomings-lack of belief in work, lack of understanding of the Americans in the academic sense, and the like-but he has one distinction that outshines all else; he is eloquent on the subject of party unity within the Uzbek movement." 22
The Central Asian Central Committee and its subcommittees spent the spring and summer of 1924 examining the national-administrative divisions of the region. Archival documents reflect the details of this process. The boundary changes made at the time for the formation of the republics are outlined in those documents. For instance, in addition to the areas already given, the regions of Pamir and Kulab were also included in the Tajikistan Autonomous Region. The decree, however, was not final. Some of the reports of the local meetings were reviewed by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia, on June 12, 1924 and marked: "About the National-Administrative Divisions in Central Asia (Turkistan, Bukhara, and Khwarazm)-Implement the Results!"
For the delineation of the boundaries of the newly-established republics it was decided that a committee consisting of Uzbek, Kazakh, Turkmen, Kyrgyz, and Tajik representatives be formed under the leadership of a representative from the Soviet of the Peoples in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Some changes took place within the republic. In the opinion of some scholars and lawyers, in the discussions regarding the national-administrative divisions of Central Asia, a Tajik government was created in the Tajik-inhabited Eastern Bukhara. They base their contention on a decree that appears in the All-Bukharan Central Executive Committee files. It states, "With the conclusion of the extraordinary situation in Eastern Bukhara, the Dictatorial Commission comes to an end. Its place is taken by the Executive Committee of Eastern Bukhara, to be centered at Dushanbe." 23
But the abolition of the Extraordinary Dictatorial Committee and the establishment of the Temporary Central Executive Committee did not change the substance of the existing territorial situation; neither did it help the process of Tajik self-determination, especially in the more backward regions which were devoid of the very concept of political change. Nevertheless, the spectacle prepared at the Center regarding the union of separate territories, and the creation of national boundaries continued to play; resolution after resolution passed, without even consulting the people whose fate was being decided.
In the meeting of the Soviets of Eastern Bukhara, held at the beginning of September 1924, rather than the pressing territorial and cultural problems, national-administrative divisions were examined. In the final session, the Central Executive Committee of Soviet Eastern Bukhara was elected to participate in the fifth All-Bukharan conference. The leadership of the Central Executive Committee was given to Nusratulla Makhsum (N. Lutfullaev); and, because the majority of the people of Eastern Bukhara spoke Tajiki, the meeting decreed that the official medium of communication should be Tajiki, even though it had not been so in the past. It was apparent that after the national-administrative divisions only the high mountains and the backward villages destroyed by war would be given to the Tajiks.
The task of the implementation of the national-administrative divisions in the republics of Central Asia began after the ratification of the decree of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia, from 12 June 1924. The job of persuading and inviting people to consider new alternatives also got underway. Contrary to the official method which required acquaintance of the populace with their own nationality, concepts such as "Great Uzbek" and "Great Kazakh" were openly promoted.
It was suggested that the old names like Bukhara, Turkistan, and Khwarazm be retained. There were rumors that the Moscow Communists had purposefully devised the national-administrative divisions to divide the peoples of Central Asia along ethnic lines such as Turkmens, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyzes. It was rumored that the Russians' motive behind the implementation of the divisions was "divide and conquer." It was believed that they intended to eliminate the ancient kingdoms of Bukhara and Khiva.
The creation of a Central Asian federation was another idea at the time. The promoters of this idea believed that the national-administrative divisions should culminate in the creation of the Federated Soviet Socialist Republics of Central Asia. 24 This to the point that one of the direct participants of the national-administrative divisions, I. Vareikis, said, "sooner or later, history will dictate the creation of a Central Asian Federation. Today, of course, the creation of a Federated Central Asian Republic is out of the question. After all, a federation is a union composed of separate countries. Where there are no countries, how could there be a federation? The new countries have yet to assume forms. The countries must gain their independence before we can speak about a federation." 25
History proved that the formation of a Central Asian Federation into which the above-mentioned national republics voluntarily entered did not solve the nationality conflicts, it intensified them. The events of the past years indicate that even today the idea of the formation of a regional federation is still unworkable because, even within the current multi-national federations, separatist forces are seeking autonomy. These are people who have been included in these republics through the process of the national-administrative divisions. We believe that, in the near future, the united federation, irrespective of what new agreements are signed, will fall apart and its fragments will emerge as independent nations. These nations might, for some time, retain the earlier ties that the federation had imposed on them. Life, it seems, has rejected I. Vareikis's idea about the inevitability of the formation of a Central Asian federation.
On July 15, 1924, the Central Asian Bureau of the Central Committee, having completed the national-administrative divisions, began the establishment of temporary bureaus for the emerging republics and regions. Furthermore, a Central Committee was established to review the work of the national-administrative divisions. The membership of this committee included representatives from among the Uzbeks, Turkmens, Kyrgyzes as well as from the People's Soviet Republic of Khwarazm and Russia. Contrary to the decree of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party (b) of Russia (June 12, 1924), which decreed the formation of a commission including the representatives of all the peoples of Central Asia, including the Tajiks, not even one political representative of the Tajiks was admitted to defend their rights.
The Tajikistan subcommittee, with only a consultative voice, consisted of Ch. Imamov, A. Hajibaev, 26 and M. Saidjanov. It was admitted to the Commission very late only three days prior to the discussion of the establishment of the boundaries of the Autonomous Republic of Tajikistan. It is obvious that three days did not afford the members time to become intimately familiar with the problem; a three-day period was not enough for even a cursory acquaintance. As a result, the outcome of the efforts of the Committee reflected the Uzbeks', rather than the Tajiks' wishes. The minutes of the meeting on the formation of the Autonomous Republic of Tajikistan provide the best evidence. They show that the Tajik representatives discussed the situation in a cowardly manner and, while trying to be accommodating, acquiesced to all demands. A section of the minutes of the national-administrative divisions of August 21, 1924, is reproduced below as proof:
Director: Now we turn to the Tajiks, Comrade Hajibaev.
Hajibaev: According to the statistics, the number of the Tajiks of Turkistan and Bukhara is 1,240,000 but, at the time of this assessment, the criterion which we used was ability to govern. The Tajiks who live in western Bukhara, in the Samarqand and Bukhara regions, are more akin to the Uzbeks. This is true for both administration and government. These Tajiks cannot become a part of the Autonomous Region of Tajikistan which is being established in Eastern Bukhara.
Following an agreement with the Uzbekistan Bureau, the boundaries of the autonomous region of Tajikistan is delineated as follows: All the territories of the Qurqanteppe, Gharm, Kulab, and Dushanbe regions, all the Qarataq uezd 27, three volosts 28 in Sar-i Asiya, Iskandar in Falghar, Maschah in Samarqand, and the regions of Shughnan, Pamir, and Roshan in Ferghana or, stated differently, all the Tajiks of Pamir.
The Autonomous Region of Tajikistan is bound in the north by Samarqand and Ferghana, in the east by Qara-Kyrgyzstan, in the south by Afghanistan, and in the west by Sar-i Asiya.
The Tajik population of the Autonomous Republic of Tajikistan, according to the statistics of the government of Bukhara-and based on the statistics of the Bukhara Emirate, is as follows: the region that we are separating has a population of 1,200,000; but we must consider the fact that these numbers are from 1913. We also should remember that since 1920 this region has been the center of Basmachi operation and that a considerable number of the population has moved to Afghanistan. Therefore, the Bukharan government now calculates the number to be 40-45% less than the Emir's 1913 number. In addition, a considerable number of Tajiks have been absorbed by Uzbekistan as a result of the national-administrative divisions. Furthermore, military statistics indicate that the part of Bukhara where the Tajik Autonomous Republic is to be established is occupied (92%) by Tajiks.
Director: Are there any questions? You have mentioned the Tajiks of Ferghana, Samarqand, and Bukhara. Are you not including the Khujandis?
Hajibaev: In reality in the Samarqand and Khujand uezds, the Tajiks are the most numerous; in some places, 100%. They occupy Kan-i Badam, Isfara, Sukh, Asht, and the Chust area of Ferghana. Along with the city of Bukhara, they form 95% of the population. But it is hard to include those in Eastern Bukhara. In the future, perhaps, when good roads are constructed, such an inclusion can be envisaged.
With the assistance of our Uzbek comrades, we have solved the educational and cultural problems for those Tajiks who remain in the republic of Uzbekistan. Their education is restored and the language of instruction will be their native Farsi. The major cities of the Tajiks, Samarqand and Bukhara, however, must remain in Uzbekistan for a while to serve as educational centers for training specialists for Eastern Bukhara.
Director: What percent is included in the autonomous region and what percent remains outside of it?
Hajibaev: 800,000 Tajiks, i.e., more than half, remain outside the region. Unfortunately, there is no other alternative. Perhaps in the future, when we build roads, possibilities for ethnic unity might change. At the present, however, it is not at all possible.
Imamov: Comrade Imamov says that according to the data from the Central Asian Economic Relations Soviet the number of the Tajiks in Tajikistan and Bukhara is 1,200,000. Some of these Tajiks live in the cities, some live in the mountainous regions of both republics. Of course, given the geographic and economic particulars of Turkistan and Bukhara, a union of the Tajiks as a viable unit is not desirable. In the valleys, the Uzbeks live side by side with the Tajiks and, in reality, are in the majority.
Supporting the suggestion of Comrade Hajibaev about the establishment of the autonomous Tajikistan region being comprised of the Tajiks of the Kuhistan, I reiterate that due to the lack of geographic and economic conditions in both Turkistan and Bukhara, a union of the Tajiks as a unified force is impossible.
I am a 100% in favor of the establishment of a culturally and economically powerful autonomous Tajikistan, but I should say that at the present this is not feasible.
The Tajiks live in the cities and in the valleys. They maintain the same cultural and economic levels as their neighboring Uzbeks.
I believe, however that, at the present, there is no reason for the unification of the city and mountain Tajiks. I do not deny the need for the formation of such a union in the future; but not at the present time. Let me provide an example. What do the Tajiks of Kuhistan occupy themselves with? Some are musicians, some bring snow from the mountains, and some others gather firewood and sell it in the nearby markets. It is incumbent on the future wealthy republic of Uzbekistan, therefore, to extend a helping hand to the people of the autonomous Tajikistan Region and further their progress.
Furthermore, Comrade Imamov discussed the boundaries of Tajikistan suggested by the Tajikistan Committee and was in agreement with it.
Director: Where is your center? (a voice in the hall Dushanbe).
Imamov: This is a problem for the people themselves to solve. (Director, not for people, for the Party). At the present, life in the Kuhistan is centered around bringing firewood to the cities and alleys. That is their life. In view of this, the government of Uzbekistan must be generous to the autonomous Tajikistan region. We request that our bill be accepted.
Islamov 29: Which is the most populated part of Tajikistan and where is the educational center? Answer? Qarataq.
Hajibaev: We have come to an agreement on this issue and request that it be accepted. The main body of the Tajiks live in the Samarqand and Ferghana regions. (He enumerates the regions). The Tajik district of Samarqand is in the mountainous part. With regard to the cultural center, we believe that the Tajiks' cultural center is the city of Samarqand. Although that city remains in the republic of Uzbekistan, it must serve as the temporary cultural center for the Tajiks. We must build schools there. We cannot, however, open schools independently because now these cities are part of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan. Suffice it to say about the Tajiks of the vadi, there are no plans for taking a census there in the near future.
The relations between the mountain dwellers of the Urateppe region and those of Samarqand leave much to be desired. We believe, however, that after the division these irregularities can be smoothed out.
With regard to language, we think that the foreign language is not tolerated. Our cultural centers remain Samarqand and Bukhara. And we suggest that Qarataq should be our administrative center.
Hajibaev: We have placed 40% of the Tajiks in the Autonomous Region, the rest were deprived of this. The cultural center of the Tajiks remains in Uzbekistan and only the far-off mountainous places are included in the region.
[We shall not hold that against you. Maybe that's all they allowed you to give (laughter).] What kind of self-determination are we talking about? The Executive Committee is not forcing its will. ... I believe that this question has not found a complete solution yet. The Tajik comrades may be satisfied, but I am not (laughter). What kind of an autonomous region is this that out of one million and two hundred thousand Tajiks, 800,000 remain outside it. I believe that, according to the decree of the Political Bureau, three representatives should have been included in the commission. Besides, it is incorrect to call mountain peaks regions. But, if they plan to send me along with the Tajiks, I shall say no more.
Director: I, too, am suspicious of this issue. We did not become fully familiar with the documents. I believe we should copy the documents and distribute them among the members. We can express ourselves after we read them carefully. Maybe we shall arrive at what the Tajik comrades want. But, the document must be reexamined.
Imamov: That is quite true that the boundaries chosen for Tajikistan are bare mountains (laughter), but perhaps his initial statement was not correct. He neglected to mention the two regions of the Republic of Bukhara, i.e., Qurqanteppe and Sar-i Asiya which, from an economic point of view, are doing very well.
Comrade Imamov adds: Now that we have reached an agreement with our Uzbek comrades, it is hoped that they will assist us in making Tajikistan prosperous.
He adds that Comrade Khojaev 30 as a "Tajik" should promote the policies of the Persians. In fact, Comrade Khojaev in all his speeches, mixes the Tajiks with the Persians. Therefore, Comrade Imamov repeats once again that comrade Khojaev should stop this "Tajik" mascarade.
Comrade Imamov concluding his remarks, states that the establishment of the Tajikistan Autonomous Region is of great economic importance because it is attached to great Uzbekistan.
Imamov: As it was mentioned above, these numbers need to be corrected. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of the Tajiks is 277,000 in Turkistan and 802,000 in Eastern Bukhara.
The entire Eastern Bukhara must be added to this region, district by district. The Uzbek commission apparently has not studied the numbers. We request that our comrades write up a report that we can use as the basis of our discussion. Here Comrade Khojaev spoke as if he were a Tajik, but I should tell him that he overplayed the role (laughter). If he is not satisfied with the situation outlined above, the reason is because there is no difference between the Tajiks and us. We think that in the future the boundaries can be changed and made more clear. At the present, however, we must decide on the boundaries that we have outlined and on which we have come to an agreement with our Tajik comrades.
Imamov has already talked about Khujand and Samarqand. he well knows that. ... 31
As can be seen, the documents reveal a lack of principle and, to a degree, point to criminal activities on the part of the Tajikistan Subcommittee. It seems that the Subcommittee deprived the Tajiks of their right to self-determination and attainment of independence. Whether these attempts were sincere or were intended to hand Tajikistan over to Uzbekistan, they had enormous economic, social, and cultural ramifications for the Tajik nation, especially for the present time. When Uzbekistan began the implementation of a rapid program of forcing the Tajiks to change their ethnic affiliation to Uzbek, the hope that Uzbekistan would satisfy the economic, social, and cultural needs of its Tajiks, too, was dashed. These efforts manifested themselves in the preparation of educational materials and in other unsavory events in the society. This kind of treatment continues at the present time, especially of the people of Samarqand and Bukhara.
All the activities of the Tajikistan Subcommittee led by the above-mentioned individuals were, from the beginning to the end, humiliating and damaging to the Tajik people. The situation was so incomprehensible that even the concerned Kazakh and Kyrgyz supporters of Tajikistan could not lead the Subcommittee to a wiser solution. The Kazakhs and the Kyrgyzes were astonished at the action of the Tajiks who, knowingly, were handing over their economic and cultural centers to the Uzbeks. The Tajiks were tormented by their conscience, yet they chose for themselves only the most remote and the least desirable (as Khajanov put it, only the mountains) lands. All this happened because the Tajiks did not have a political leader of their own; a caring leader who would think not only about today but about the future as well.
Today, too, we continue to repeat the mistakes of the past, as if the past has been the last teacher. We have allowed politicians to come to power who are totally distant from the daily affairs of the people and who, at the most crucial and historical moments, fail to solve our problems and rescue us from insecurity, poverty, hunger, and backwardness. All of this indicates that both the Party and Soviet leadership lack insight into the workings of history. They do not comprehend the mistakes that took place during the national-administrative divisions.
What motivated the Tajikistan Subcommittee to assume the posture it took during the national-administrative divisions? All the members of the Subcommittee had been born and educated in Uzbekistan. Some of them, when working in that republic, had registered themselves as Uzbek. They liked the lifestyle, customs, and the music of the Uzbeks. They sought high offices which required proof of being sympathetic to the Uzbek cause. When Tajikistan became an Autonomous Republic within Uzbekistan, these Uzbek sympathizers knew that they had reached their goal. Only later, when their situation and the situation of the republic took a turn for the worse, they changed their orientation. But mere confession to past wrong-doings was not sufficient to remedy their situation. The time had past. Why? A rationale is provided further below.
The arguments of the Subcommittee that the geographical, administrative, and cultural situations of the mountainous region would adversely affect Ferghana, Bukhara and its western areas, and Samarqand is absolutely baseless. After several years, first Badakhshan and later northern Tajikistan, including Khujand, were added to the Autonomous Republic of Tajikistan. The geography was still the same, no roads had been built, and many other problems had still remained unresolved. But none of these prevented the formation of an independent republic within the Union.
Let us suppose that the mountains in the Pamir area prevented the peoples living in the far-off regions from forming a union. But what about the people of the Emirate of Bukhara? Were they not all Tajiks living in an area that was not geographically difficult for the formation of a union? Everybody knew that there was no (geographical) obstacle preventing Hissar, Surkhan Dariya and Qashqa Dariya from joining the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan and the Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan; but both regions were prevented from doing so.
As can be seen, the arguments of the Tajikistan Commission for resolving the problems and uniting certain regions were meaningless. There is no doubt that the Pan-Turkist leaders of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan, who wanted to revive the "great" Uzbek culture, had a hand in this. They intended to take over (and this is proven) the great culture of the Tajik people. The inclination to take over a foreign culture and seek distance from its own culture continues to be a feature of Uzbek life even today. The creation of a union on their own ancestral lands within the great Uzbek nation was not possible unless both the people and the land belonged to the Uzbeks. In other words, the Tajiks were now expendable.
We are deeply indebted to the Kazakhs, Kyrgyzes, and Turkmens who, during fateful times, have come to the aid of the Tajiks and, in principle, defended Tajik interests.
In the meeting of the Uzbekistan Bureau, regarding the national-administrative divisions, F. Khajayev, Segizbaev, Abdurrahim Hajibaev, Chinar Imamov, and Abdulla Rahimbaev participated. In this meeting Rahimbaev stated that he supported the inclusion of Urateppe in the Independent Republic of Uzbekistan. 32 Sekizbaev, on the contrary, spoke in support of inclusion of Urateppe as one of the four counties of the Republic of Tajikistan.
The original concept for the formation of the Autonomous Tajikistan Region includes only the mountainous regions and Maschah. But the Tajikistan Subcommittee did not include even one representative of this region. In reality, during the preparation of the documents, the people of the region for the unity of which all efforts were being expended were not represented. A strange incident happened in this regard. When the voting started, the head of the Commission, I. A. Zelenskii asked: "Who supports the bill presented by the Tajiks?" Khajanov was being facetious, said, "Do you mean the Uzbek bill?" 33 On September 6, 1924, the boundaries of the Autonomous Tajikistan Region were made definite; and on September 7, the Central Committee of Central Asian Affairs ratified it.
The Director of the Central Executive Committee, Nusratulla Makhsum (N. Lutfullaev), after coming to Dushanbe from Tashkent and becoming acquainted with the proceedings, contacted both the Central Committee of the Communist Party(b) of Russia and J. V. Stalin. Among other things, he wrote, "Affairs that directly affect the interests of the Tajik people have been resolved erroneously." He further wrote, "1) The boundaries of the Tajikistan Autonomous Region are drawn incorrectly so that many Tajik areas in the neighborhood of Uzbekistan have remained in Uzbekistan; 2) The inclusion of Tajikistan in Uzbekistan infringes upon the right of self-determination of the Tajiks, while these rights are given to the Uzbeks and the Turkmens. 34 It is requested, therefore, that the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia reexamine the national-administrative divisions and discuss the important and principal issues therein. These include: 1) the inclusion of Urateppe, Khujand, Kan-i Badam, Isfara, Sukh, Rishtan, Uch Qurqan, and the adjacent areas where the majority of the population is Tajik, into Tajikistan; 2) the establishment of a free and independent Tajikistan using the same rules applied to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The geographic and demographic situation for the establishment of such a republic is favorable. It is essential for the economic and cultural development of the Tajik workers to use the above-mentioned guidelines and resolve the problem." 35
We believe that Nusratulla Makhsum's letter was yet another good reason for changing the decree of the Commission. Instead of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan, the Tajikistan Soviet Socialist Republic could have been established.
When the national-administrative divisions were being formed, it was impossible to explain the ramifications of the undemocratic moves to a public for whom the very sessions were amusing spectacles. Those who enlightened the people were partial, but not to the Tajik cause. Those who saw through the sham and spoke up were not supported. On the contrary, due to special regulations it was impossible to interfere in Tajik political affairs without the permission of the Party. This to the point that as of August 31, 1924, the Central Committee of the Central Asian branch of the Communist Party (b) of Russia, denied recognition to all public efforts that seemed to be in conflict with the policies of the Party. The reason for the concern was that "in the meetings, the time that was to be devoted to the revelation of the intricacies of the Communist Party and expansion of the intellectual capacity of the servants of the people (or the so-called Party Leaders R.M.) and to explaining the mechanics of the national-administrative divisions so that people could understand their importance and recognize their own roles was spent on deciding what volost or village belonged to which region or republic." 36
The researchers who deal with the question of national-administrative divisions, especially those who misinterpret the history of the Party, refer to the decrees and the instructions of the Party to justify these actions to persecute the opponents of the divisions. The opponents are accused of an inability to understand the decree of the Commission and, thereby, of grasping the pros and cons of the events. The image projected for these so-called documents was pathetic; it not only lacked insight into affairs, but contained some of the most erroneous ideas about the national formations and about the economics of the region. Besides, we know from the archival materials that the general public was expected to accept all decrees without question.
Among the local inhabitants there were some insightful and experienced intellectuals who were fully familiar with the history of their people, the national composition of the cities and regions, and their economic inclinations. Naturally, those intellectuals grasped the import of the issues discussed in the Central Asian Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia. How could the solutions that they suggested not frighten the "writers" of the history of Central Asia? If these cultured individuals could not improve their own national interest and decide their own future, who could accomplish that for them? For the sake of preventing nationality conflicts from flaring up, resulting in fragmentation, and in order not to deviate from the Party's nationality policy regarding the national-administrative divisions, the apologists of the Communist Party left all the unsavory accounts off the record.
The present situation of the country, especially the national policy question, is indicative of that state of affairs. The flaring up of the present-day ethnic conflicts stems from that lack of application of correct methods for the resolution of national problems. The "axing off," as it were, of the boundaries and other negative events sowed the seeds of armed struggle among peoples and regions. Does not this speak about the erroneous policies of the Communist Party which sowed the seed of hatred among the people by protecting the interests of some while allowing the exploitative activities of the others. Hafiz is so right when he says: "You reap what you sow."
The local intellectuals knew well all the Central Asian governmental and party officials, past and present. Russian Orientalists, who had spent the better part of their lives studying the history of the eastern peoples assisted them in this regard. The document called: "Theses about the Situation of the Tajiks," prepared by Abdurrahim Hajibaev with the assistance of historians, reveals further information about the members of the Commission on national-administrative divisions.
The theses contain precise information about the history of the Tajik people and their situation on the eve of the divisions in the various Soviet republics of Central Asia. They also reveal the reasons for the deep hatred that the Tajiks have felt over the centuries. This hatred became even more evident during the national-administrative divisions and the establishment of the Union of the "Independent States."
We shall produce evidence from these theses to illustrate the causes motivating the infringement on the rights of the Tajik people during their establishment of a national government. The theses (We shall retain the style of the original document R.M.) begin with the following words, "From ancient times, many people have made their passage through Turkistan. The majority of these people have settled here. Therefore, from a national point of view, the people of Turkistan are diverse. The varied natural conditions of the region have helped in retaining many of the idiosyncrasies of these peoples. Even today there are different types of administration: from the patriarchal, tribal Kyrgyz and Turkmen societies to the progressive socialist cities of Turkistan.
Basically, Turkistani history before the Russian takeover was, on the one hand, the conflict between the tribal and patriarchal society based on blood ties, against native, settled farmers and, on the other hand against the artists, traders, and capitalists. Since the various types of administration outwardly corresponded to the various types of tribal lifestyle, these conflicts often took the form of national struggles.
After the Russian takeover of Turkistan, class wars became the predominant feature combining the residual forms of feudal administration with intrusive foreign capitalism. Because the people of Central Asia were united by one religion Islam this struggle, too, in order to support capitalism, became a supporter of Islam against the infidels.
Capitalism repeatedly created wars between the patriarchal and the feudal systems but instead of the tribal, feudal, and religious leaders, a new local bourgeoisie came into being and the intellectuals joined it as go-betweens for the local people and the capitalists. This new class which was the product of the new order, could not oppose the order. It, therefore, began a struggle against the representatives of the moribund administration.
At the beginning, this struggle had an ideological form. It was unsympathetic to the Shari'a and the Adat. But the later progress of capitalism tightened the reigns on the mediating local bourgeoisie and the intellectuals and, in effect, became the opposing force against the bourgeoisie. As a result, the leader of the people's struggle chose its people from among the Muslims. But, here the old form receives new content. This was not the old Islam, which fought against every type of ignorance but a new one known as jadid Islam. The representatives of these people took it upon themselves to examine the life situation of all Muslims subjugated to European capitalism and found ways to continue the struggle against the exploitative infidels.
Who were the leaders of the jadids? ... The main leaders of the jadids in Central Asia were the merchant bourgeoisie and the Tatar intellectuals who shared the language and the religion of the natives of the region. In addition, when the Central Asians made the pilgrimage to Mecca, it was possible for them to visit Turkey. Turkey was a Muslim country and, compared to Turkistan, was culturally advanced and relatively independent. It is understandable, therefore, that such movements as jadidism and Pan-Islamism in Central Asia had Pan-Turkist roots with the following motto: "Long Live the Union of the Turkish People!"
The October Revolution eliminated Russia's colonialist and capitalist rule over Turkistan. The local bourgeoisie, the clergy, and some of the intellectuals joined the ranks of the anti-revolutionaries and turned into Basmachis. The other intellectuals joined the revolutionaries but did not change their ideology.
This event influenced the first steps of the Communist Party to form an Islamic Bureau at the time of the formation of the socialist government in Turkistan.
The first socialist officials in Turkistan, in most places, were still the local intellectuals, the Tatars, and the jadids who, before the Revolution, had led the Pan-Turkist movement. Even today, we encounter the remnants of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism in the form of "the language of Islam," "Turkish," and the like.
There was also a lack of understanding of the problem of nationalism in Turkistan and Bukhara, especially on the part of many Party and Soviet officials, in particular, the Russians.
In the subsequent stages of the Revolution, the struggle among the peoples of Turkistan is renewed and the struggle against Russian colonialists temporarily halted. The Muslims and Turks are now referred to as the Kyrgyzes, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmens, Uigurs, and Tatars.
But not all the people project their stability right away. The first people to distinguish themselves were the ones who had a different lifestyle; for instance, the Kyrgyzes, Turkmens, and Uzbeks who had been heavily influenced by capitalism. The nationality fights among the Kyrgyzes, Turkmens, and Uzbeks held a special place in the meetings of the Turkistan soviets.
For a long time, the Party and Soviet officials thought that the sure way to put an end to the nationality conflicts among the people was to elevate their level of education to the point of equality. Attracting them to the Party and the Soviets, therefore, was one remedy. But no positive steps were taken for the largest and oldest people of Central Asia, the Tajiks. The Tajiks themselves, too, did not have the courage to demand certain cultural and educational rights; even where the discrepancy between their life situation and that of the Uzbeks was glaring. This allowed many Party and Soviet officials in Central Asia to claim that the Tajiks did not exist as a separate people. If they did exist, they had to be assimilated into the Uzbeks. Such efforts were, and continue to be, expended by some Tajiks, especially by those who identified themselves as internationalists and who tried to be of service to the Uzbeks. They were lowly people, seeking power.
This kind of thinking is not compatible with truth, because the Tajiks are different from the other peoples of Turkistan and Bukhara, both linguistically and racially.
Aryan tribes have lived in Central Asia since ancient times. At the time of the Greek invasion of India, these people enjoyed a high level of civilization. They had very large cities (until the 6th century, the population of Merv was more than 2,000,000). They also had the first public hospital, agriculture, and a good system of irrigation. They had trade relations with China and the countries to the west; they began trade with Turkistan in the 6th century, when the Altai Turks captured the northern regions.
In the 8th century, Turkistan and Bukhara fell to the Arabs and the inhabitants were Islamized. But these first looters did not destroy the country to any great extent. In the 12th century, the country was invaded by the Turko-Mongols and the population was subjugated. The assimilation of the races and the forced migration of the Tajiks to the mountains began at that time. These wild tribes transformed the orchards and the wheat fields into pasture land; destroyed the villages, and constantly looted the cities. But, in time, these wild invaders realized that they should accept the civilization of the rural inhabitants. Some of the local inhabitants were assimilated by the victors, causing them to lose their language. That is why the Turks and Mongols who have become part of Central Asia speak Tajik and some look Indo-European. The portion of the population that was forced to migrate to the mountains and valleys, resisted change; they retained their language. They are the pure Tajiks.
The reason for the Tajiks' dispersion is evident from their history: the Tajiks occupied all the mountainous regions between the Samarqand and Ferghana regions, two-fifths of the Ferghana Valley, and all the environs of Zarafshan (including the cities of Khujand, Samarqand, Chust, Urateppe, and Bukhara). They also were the sole occupants of south-eastern Bukhara, the city of Bukhara, and its environs. They still live in Tashkent, Afghanistan, Iran, and the peripheries of India (Peshawar and Chitral). There is also a large population in Kashghar, in China.
From the point of view of lifestyle, the Tajiks of Turkistan can be divided into two distinct groups: the plains Tajiks and the mountain Tajiks. The Tajiks of the plains include the inhabitants of Samarqand, Bukhara, Khujand, Chust, and their environs. Their main occupations include work in orchards and vineyards as well as in the fields raising cotton and cattle.
On the contrary, the rugged nature of the territory that the Tajiks of the mountains occupy sets their life apart from that of the Tajiks of the plains. A lack of cultivable land forces the Tajiks of the mountain to seek employment in the cotton fields. For this reason, a large portion of every local proletariat was composed of mountain Tajiks. Up to 90% of the factory workers of Turkistan and Bukhara came from the mountainous region of Tajikistan. ...
Linguistically, too, the Tajiks are different from the other Central Asian peoples. While all the other peoples of Central Asia speak languages that are akin to Turkish, the Tajiks speak a language that is related to the Indo-Aryan group of the Indo-European languages, a language group absolutely different from Turkish. Most Tajiks speak dialects that are akin to the Farsi language. In any case, language and orthography relate the Tajiks to the peoples of Afghanistan, Iran, and the other eastern countries.
Until the take-over by Russia, the Persian language was the official language of all the emirates of Central Asia. In Bukhara, it retained that status until the Revolution. Along with Arabic, the Persian language is recognized in Central Asia as the language of medieval science. But the new bourgeoisie and the majority of the intellectuals studied not at the old schools, but in the new schools set up by the Tatars.
Tajik intellectuals, too, recognizing the importance of the reforms, became involved in that movement. Jadidism assumed a Pan-Turkist form in Turkistan, because the new methods were imitations of the models that were prevalent in Turkey. Some Tajik intellectuals, too, attracted by the reforms, joined the Pan-Turkists. Turkish officers (Prisoners of War) who had occupied the educational positions after the Revolution, were among the most effective in the promotion of Pan-Turkism.
The above statements can be summarized as follows:
If Tajiks are assimilated with Uzbeks, for instance, in the Syr Dariya, where the Tajik population is small, then the reverse should be true here in the south, where the Tajiks are in the majority.
We can speculate that maybe the Pan-Turkists put too much pressure on him and that the other members of the Tajikistan Subcommission (he, himself, writes about this); pressure that could not be ignored. Neither did the other Tajik political leaders, influenced by Pan-Turkism, support him. After all, how could one individual with limited voting rights oppose the highly influential Uzbekistan Commission, all the members of which supported the same idea?
At this time the national-administrative divisions were being concluded. During September and October of 1924, the recommendations of the highest organs of the governments of the republics of Central Asia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics assumed their legal form. The legislative acts regarding the national-administrative divisions of 15-16 September 1924 were ratified at the 5th Kurultai 39 of the All-Bukhara Soviets on September 19, 1924.
In turn, on October 3, 1924, the Tajikistan Central Commission, consisting of Ch. Imamov, Hajirahmatullaev, and A. Hajibaev examined the question of mixed borders that were included in Tajikistan with preference for the Tajik people. The decree of the Commission reads as follows, "The following boundaries should be assigned to Tajikistan. ... in Bukhara, the Sar-i Asiya region, which would leave 240,000 Tajiks in Uzbekistan and part of the Bukhara region. In the Samarqand region, the following volosts: 40 1) The Panjkent region with the following volosts: Panjkent, Aftabruin, Kshtut, Marghiyan, Farab, and Urgat. 2) The Urateppe region: Qonchi, Basmanda, Daliyan and Shahristan. 3) From the Ferghana region: Kan-i Badam, Isfara, Sukh, part of the Rishtan volost, Mahram volost, Laklak, Amas, Babadakhan, Jahdak, and Asht." 41
But A. Hajibaev was not satisfied with the decree of the Tajikistan Boundary Commission. He expressed his personal view as follows, "I think it is still too early to include the Ferghana Tajiks within the above-mentioned boundaries. I believe that Tajikistan will not be able to administer the region due to the immensity of the work at hand in the near future as well as what awaits it. 42
With those remarks, he dealt the mortal blow. As a result of his objection, not only the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan was deprived of the above-mentioned Ferghana region, but of large portions of its Samarqand and Bukhara holdings as well.
Thus, after much discussion, in addition to Eastern Bukhara, the Zarafshan highlands, Panjkent, Urateppe, and their environs were included in the Autonomous SSR. of Tajikistan.
On October 5, 1924, the National Tajikistan Commission requested from the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia that the Pamir region be established as an autonomous region and be included in Tajikistan. 43 Because of this request and that two autonomous regions could not be formed within a single union, the ASS Region of Tajikistan became the ASS Republic of Tajikistan.
On October 11, 1924, the suggestions of the Party and Soviet organs regarding the boundaries in Central Asia were discussed in an Extraordinary meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia. At that same time, the Political Bureau assigned V. V. Kuybishev, I. E. Rudzutak, and G. V. Chicherin to study the Pamir problem. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party (b) of Russia found it necessary that the Autonomous Republic of Tajikistan (instead of Region) be instituted in the S.S. Republic of Uzbekistan.
On October 14, 1924, the Second All-Russia Central Executive Committee accepted the decree of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkistan called: "About the Territorial Divisions." It gave the Tajiks the right to establish the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan.
On October 26, 1924, the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia examined the national-administrative divisions of Central Asia. On October 27, the Second Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union ratified the resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkistan, of the All-Bukhara 5th Kurultai and the all-Khwarazm Kurultai of the Soviets. It accepted the recommendation of the second session of the Central Committee of the RSFSR in relation to the national-administrative divisions of Central Asia, i.e., the creation of Soviet Socialist Republics of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan within Uzbek SSR, the Autonomous Region of Kara Kyrgyzstan within RSFSR, and the Karakalpakistan Region in Kazakh SSR.
The national-administrative divisions of Central Asia and the establishment of the republics with corresponding ethnic identity were major historical events. These events affected the Tajiks, who had gradually lost their own government and were subjected to assimilation (especially after the Russian take-over of Central Asia), adversely. Using the divisions, Turkish tribes pushed the Tajiks farther into the mountainous regions. On the other hand, thanks to the assistance and foresight of Russian intellectuals, scientists, political and public servants, and the government, the Pan-Turkists did not find the opportunity to implement their anti-Tajik agenda to its fullest extent. Even though the Tajiks were the oldest people of the region, the Pan-Turkists insisted on their being devoid of culture and history; they were treated as "Persianized Turks." They recognized only the Tajiks of Badakhshan as Tajiks and argued that by the dawn of the 20th century the rest of the Tajiks had already become Turks. They further argued that Tajiks did not understand self-determination and, consequently, could not rule themselves. The establishment of the small Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan (even though it was deprived of its economic and cultural centers) neutralized the Turkish peoples' expansionist aspirations. In fact, the establishment of the Autonomous SSR of Tajikistan proved that the Tajiks, whose identity the Pan-Turkists wished to deny, were the oldest people of Central Asia.
At the same time, in the process of the national-administrative divisions of Central Asia (more exactly, regarding the role of such divisions), many mistakes were made. These mistakes were the consequences of visual and mental factors resulting from the past social, economical, and cultural life of the peoples of this region. As a whole, the Central Asians' life had been ruled by one tyrant after another; which caused them to constantly move from one area to another (except for the city dwellers). This was particularly true of the Turkish tribes thus adding huge numbers to the villagers, regions, and districts. With the exception of the cities and the Kuhistan, there were no great concentrations of people or of any recognized or definite habitation limits. This situation was (and continues to be) a source of conflict which has resulted in many deaths.
The psychological reasons were more compelling: they consisted of the persistent persuasions of the Pan-Turkists and of the chauvinist promoters of the Great Uzbek land, both groups occupied the key administrative positions of the republics of Central Asia. It is obvious that the constant denial of the fact that the Tajiks were the oldest people of Central Asia did not pass without resulting in a calamity. All these persuasions and denials were to infringe upon the rights of the Tajiks and to prevent them from establishing an independent republic.
As mentioned above, until 1924, most Central and local Party reports and governmental documents did not acknowledge the Tajiks as a people of Central Asia. Only after the establishment of the Central Asian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia, along with the efforts of insightful Party members, some of the rights of the Tajiks were restored and, contrary to the demands of the dissatisfied Pan-Turkists, the ASSR of Tajikistan was established.
In the process of the national-administrative divisions yet another concept proved to be detrimental. Convinced of the accuracy of their own knowledge, the Party and governmental officials did not listen to the scientific recommendations and the suggestions of the great scholars of the time who knew for a fact which people deserved to be independent.
The report of Academician V. V. Barthold entitled: "About the Interrelationship between the Turkish and Iranian Peoples of Central Asia," states, "At the end of the 10th century, political power passed to the Turks and since then, one political union of Turks has given way to another. However, these political unions, including the more recent ones, have been mostly Iranian; if not according to the language of the public at large, then from the point of view of the official and cultural language. Even in the new Uzbek region, the Tajik element was so prominent that the Khiva historians referred to the Bukharan military as the Tajik army. The Tajiki language was not only the official language of the city of Bukhara, but the official language of the kingdom of Bukhara (1920) as well.
The ethnographic line separating the Turks from the Iranians lasted until the Turks became natives of the land, then it began to disappear. Iranian farming communities were slowly pushed towards the mountains. In this regard, one of the scholars of Central Asia made the ridiculous statement that the Tajiks' love of mountains, a 'special Tajik trait,' moved the Tajiks in that direction. Unfortunately, this view was very popular in the 19th century."
Criticism of the national-administrative divisions by many government and Party leaders, scientists, and specialists filled the pages of the publications issued after 1924. In addition, a series of documents and lectures were published by the officials of the Central Committee of Central Asia on the same subject. In his "National-Administrative Divisions in Central Asia," I. Zelinskii states, "It would be self-gratification, if we were to think that the nationality problem in Turkistan was correctly resolved and that we made no mistakes in the creation of the national republics. With regard to assigning the boundaries, we should not expect new, incontrovertible decrees. We lacked statistics regarding the economy and information about the national composition of the regions. In addition, when the national composition is varied, the economic relations are also varied from region to region, small villages, and the like. Under these circumstances, it is not possible to determine boundary lines, republic or otherwise, with any degree of accuracy. It is possible that in the future, the local inhabitants might wish to reexamine and reassign these boundaries." 44
I. A. Zelinskii, the Director of the Central Asian Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) of Russia, stated the following in his official speech, "Our first step was the implementation of the national-administrative divisions to establish the national republics. What we did, in a manner of speaking, was a rough draft. A great deal still remains to be discussed. We took the ax to the problem, you could say." 45
After the first year of the divisions, the following brief analysis of the boundaries of the newly-united countries appeared, "During the national-administrative divisions, the correspondence of certain centers of commerce and known economical points has not been taken into consideration. Several major economic centers of the Tajiks remain in Uzbekistan, simply because of the assimilation issue. Among those places, mention can be made of Sukh, Isfara, Kan-i Badam, Khujand, and Samarqand. In the same document, it was also admitted that the Tajiks were forced to start a new economic center in the far-off village of Dushanbe." 46
The claim that Samarqand and Bukhara were assigned to Uzbekistan because the surrounding population of these cities was Turkish was bogus. The majority of the inhabitants of the surrounding areas, especially around the city of Bukhara, were Tajik.
The economic factor is of special importance here because most researchers analyzing the national-administrative divisions refer to the words of V. I. Lenin. What had Lenin said about that? U. G. Barsegov, who has studied the works of Lenin carefully says, "We can clearly state that the immoral interpreters of the works of the Great One usually do not read Lenin's entire works. Rather they substitute the reverse of what Lenin states in simple and straightforward words and present that as an authentic statement made by Lenin." 47
Once we examine V. I. Lenin's entire provocative conception of the subject, we will conclude that all the supposed "economic concerns" do not have the slightest bearing on self-determination, especially, when we are dealing with forced retention of people in foreign lands." He used to laugh at such naiveté, calling it "economicsm" and a "caricature of Marxism." 48
The words of V. I. Lenin regarding the "simplicity and impossibility of separating the cities from the villages and okrugs (regions) that have economic affinity, and that the Marxists should not accept the national-administrative divisions as a principle," should not be understood in the sense that these cities, as far as economics is concerned, could be given to strangers because, as he further states, "in time such cities change their national features." 49
As we mentioned, the 1924 artificial ploy-that there were no roads-so that the present-day northern Tajikistan could be included in the ASSR of Tajikistan was indefensible. In 1929, when the Khujand okrug was made a part of ASSR of Tajikistan, that region still did not have a highway; in some places, there were not even service roads between that okrug and Central Tajikistan (the Dushanbe road by way of Anzab and Shahristan was built in 1935).
The claim that the continuation of the Basmachi struggle was detrimental to Soviet rule and for that reason the above-mentioned regions were not included in the Autonomous SSR of Tajikistan is also ludicrous. Would it not be the case that an economically strong and well-defined republic with a strong foundation and well-prepared cadres could undermine the anti-revolutionaries' forces and add to the strength of the Soviet Union?
The Pan-Turkists, continuously used the backwardness of Tajikistan's culture vis-à-vis the other Central Asian republics as evidence to stop the formation of an independent republic of Tajikistan. But when we turn to specific facts, like the census taken during the early years of the Soviet Union, we find that the number of educated Tajiks was considerable. For instance, according to the 1920 census, in Samarqand, in spite of closing the advanced Tajik schools, the rate of literacy among the public was: Uzbeks 1.1%; Kazakhs and Kyrgyzes 2%; and Tajiks 4.7%.