The Revolt of 1916 in Turkestan

Автор ABN-Correspondence

On the 50th anniversary of the armed revolt of the people of Turkestan in July of 1916, the Soviet Russians have sought, by falsifying history, to prove that the “workers” of Turkestan shared the ambitions of the revolutionary movement of the Russian workers and peasants. It is maintained that this revolt was a class struggle and part of the Russian October Revolution. In the Soviet press numerous articles, essays, book and booklet reviews appeared, such as “The Revolt of 1916 in Central Asia was a part of the Russian revolutionary movement” (Ozbekistan Kommunisti, No. 6., 1966), “Flame of Anger” (STa, June 11, 1966), "Great Courage” (SO, July 17, 1966), "Fruits of Boldness” (SO, July 14, 1966), etc. In these articles the wide-spread revolt of the Turk- estanians is represented as “a revolt of the workers motivated by the ideal of Communism against tsarist colonial policies, against the measures of the tsars; as fight for freedom; as a class struggle of the workers; as a preliminary step to the October Revolution, which finally realized the desires and the will of the peoples of Central Asia and gave them freedom and sovereignty.” The dramatist Sultan Safarow wrote a play “Dawn in the city of Chodshent,” in which the revolt of July 4, 1916 is described as if the people had been terrorized by the local upper classes and therefore revolted. (STa, August 4, 1966). In another article it is maintained: “The people of Chodshent (today Leninabad, Tadzhik Soviet Socialist Republic) had a difficult economic, social and political life until the October Revolution. The poor workers were robbed of their possessions; they were ruthlessly exploited by the rich — the Begs — and by the officials of the tsars. The peasants had an especially hard life. The revolt of 1916 in Central Asia and in Kazakhstan was the greatest revolt during tsarist times and encompassed the entire area of Central Asia... This revolt which broke out in Uzbekistan had, just as in all of Central Asia, deep political, social and economic importance.

On July 4, 1916, the workers of Chodshent revolted and this revolt spread to the cities of Samarkand, Syr Darya, Fergana, Jetisu (East Kazakhstan), Trans- caspia (Turkmenistan) and to the mountain regions. They were directed against the ukase issued by the Tsar on June 25, 1916, mobilizing the Turkestanians for military service at the front. . . . Though the revolt was crushed, its effect was felt until the great socialist October Revolution. The revolt of 1916 in Chodshent was a people’s revolt against their exploiters. Fifty years ago the workers of Central Asia rose up against terror and oppression for the first time.*

The Turkestanians refused to be inducted to serve behind the Russian front. On July 4, 8,140 men were to be registered in the city of Chodshent (at that time, the city had a population of 40,000), and during the night of July 3-4, the people of Chodshent began to revolt. Tashkent became the centre of the revolt, and behind the slogan “The banner of revolt has been raised in Tashkent,” all Turkestan was embraced. On July 8, the Fergana district joined the revolt; on July 13, the city of Dshisach (southeast of Tashkent); on July 24, the Jetisu and Amu-Darja district; on August 13, the city of Tokmak (Kirgizia) and on August 14, the Aksu area.

Already on July 17, military law was established throughout the country. There was heavy fighting in Dshisach, which was encircled by Russian soldiers. More than 10,000 men, women and children were killed, and the city and 24 neighbouring villages were razed to the ground. All of the nomades of the city of Kysyl-Su (today called Krasnovodsk on the Caspian Sea), participated in the revolts in Turkmenistan. Even more than the loss of their best pasture-grounds, they feared the Russians and fought an outright war. In November of 1916, Kuropatkin, governor general of the governor-generalship of Turkestan, sent Madirov, the governor of Syr Darya, to Turkmenistan with 8000 men. All fountains were poisoned, the revolt was crushed and all possessions were confiscated. In the district of Jetisu, more than 205,000 Turkestanians were killed (another source sets the figure at 100,000). All the property of the Kirghiz in Issyk Kul, in the Chu and Narin valley was dispossessed and in Samarkand 50 villages were razed to the ground.

The revolt was not the outgrowth of a class struggle of the Turkestanians among themselves, as the Communists maintain and seek to prove in scientific conferences and exhibitions, such as the recent conference held on September 24 in the Uzbekistan Socialist Soviet Republic, and of the Institute for History of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, in Tashkent. (SO, September 27, 1966) The revolt, triggered off by the tsarist ukase, was directed rather against the colonial policies of the Tsar and against the Russian settlers, who, as it is known, took away the best agricultural land from the Turkestanians. For instance, during the revolt, 4,725 Russians, among whom were 2000 colonists, were killed and an additional 2,683 were missing. More than 9000 Russian farms and 5,373 Russian settlement houses were burned; in Jetisu alone 94 Russian villages. In short, there was not a solidarity, as is maintained today, with the Russian workers and peasants — Turkestanians fought against Russians.

350 leaders of the Turkestanian revolt were executed and 168 men and women were deported to Siberia. 300,000 Turkestanians, among whom were 60,000 Kirghiz families, fled to East Turkestan. 10,000 lost their lives from the cold and the hardships in the mountains. The number who fled to Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia is unknown. The total number of losses of the Turkestanians is also not known.

The revolt of 1916 caused the Russians many difficulties, for 100,000 Russian soldiers, who were urgently needed at the front, were tied up in Turkestan.


* The revolt of 1916 was brought about by the tsarist ukase of June 25, 1916, by which Turkestanians were also to be mobilized for military service “behind the lines.” In Turkestan, 250,000 men between the ages of 19 and 43 were to be inducted: from the district of Syr Darya, 60,000 men; from Samarkand, 32,407 men; from Fergana 51,000 men; from Jetisu 43,000 men; from Transcaspia 13,831 men. (Yach Turkistan, No. 23,24,1931, Paris).

Source: Archive of OUN. - Library. - ABN-Correspondence. - 1967. - №3. - May-June. - P.7-8

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