APPEAL FROM THE ECCI AND THE RILU TO ALL WORKERS AGAINST DEATH SENTENCES PASSED IN INDIA
March 1923 Inprekorr, iii, 48, p. 378, 14 March 1923
Imperialist justice has condemned 172 men in India to death. A year ago 228 men, accused of taking part in the disturbances which led to the burning of the Chauri-Chaura police station and the murder of twenty-two policemen, were brought before the court. Now 172 men are to be executed in retaliation for the death of twenty-two policemen who fell in defence of 'law and order'. The ferocity of this judicial murder is unsurpassed even in the bloody history of British rule in India.
Since 1919 India has been the scene of mass murders and brutal repression. Beginning in Amritsar, British imperialism has freely made use everywhere of tanks, bombs, machine-guns, and bayonets to smother the rebellious people in streams of blood. More than 30,000 men and women are in prison under various sentences for having taken part in the nationalist movement. More than 6,600 poor peasants from Malabar are serving hard-labour sentences, 5 have been executed, and 70 hanged. In the Punjab 5,000 Sikh peasants are in prison, beaten and ill-treated there. This outrageous list is now to be extended by sending 172 men to the gallows.
The great majority of the condemned men are poor peasants, driven to revolt by the intolerable burden of war taxes and high prices. The revolt was directed against both the native landlords and the alien government, who together suck the peasants' blood. It took the form of a gigantic mass demonstration with nationalist slogans and under nationalist leadership. The demonstrations were peaceful, for the leaders of the nationalist movement are petty-bourgeois pacifists who believe in the victory of nonviolence. But imperialism would not even allow a peaceful demonstration of the unarmed masses. The Chauri- Chaura police opened fire on a crowd of about 3,000 who were making their way to a nearby market where they wanted to put up posters against the sale of foreign goods. This provocative act angered the peaceful demonstrators, who attacked the police station, and all the inmates were killed. The number of casualties among the rebels was never established, but it is easy to imagine the effect of fire on a crowd of 3,000 persons. Indignation spread rapidly to neighbouring districts and grew into a dangerous agrarian uprising, which was suppressed by rapidly assembled military forces. The number of those who fell victim to the merciless hand of 'law and order' is not known. After the suppression of the revolt many arrests were made, and 228 persons were brought into court charged with murder and incendiarism. The case ended with 172 death sentences.
The international proletariat, which is waging a bitter struggle against capitalism throughout the world, must not allow this imperialist mass murder to take place without protest. The revolt of the working masses of the colonial countries is a powerful element in the revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeois dictatorship, and the establishment of a new social order. Imperialism is trying to smother the revolt of the colonial masses in streams of blood. The proletariat of the imperialist countries cannot remain indifferent to this. Energetic action must be taken on behalf of our Indian comrades, who are waging a bloody struggle against the imperialist terror.
Men and women workers! Organize protest meetings and demonstrations which shall brand this act of imperialist mass murder and demand that the condemned men be set free. Call on the Second International and the Amsterdam Trade Union Federation to demand of their chief pillar, the British Labour Party, to save the lives of the 172 Indian peasants, whose only crime was their hunger, and who were in that state of unbearable hunger because they were forced to contribute too much to the waging of the 'war for democracy'. Call on the Two-and-a-half International to demand of its backbone, the Independent Labour Party, to give proof of its lofty avowal of pacifism.
Proletarians of Great Britain! It is your duty to take the lead in this affair. Demand that the Labour Party take action in parliament against this bloody deed of British imperialism. If the reformist leaders cannot be moved to action even by so flagrant a violation of every moral and juri-dical law which they recognize as authoritative for others, you must reject your leaders and take direct action yourselves in support of the right of subject peoples to rebel and in affirmation of the solidarity of the working masses in the fight against capitalism.