People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
New Century Will Be Time For New Victories
K K Ragesh
(The August 19 issue of Peoples Democracy carried a report of the opening of the 15th World Festival of Youth and Students, at Algiers, the capital of Algeria, on August 14. Now we carry a report on the conclusion of the Festival and its Declaration --- Editor.)
THE ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestine was vehemently condemned by those participating in the 15th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS). The delegates demanded that Israel should immediately cease its military aggression and blockade against Jerusalem and other occupied territories. They also urged the Israeli authorities to end occupation of Palestinian land including Jerusalem, Golan Heights of Syria and Sheba's Farms in Lebanon. The participants also wanted the immediate intervention of the international community in ensuring the protection of the Palestinian people and in enforcing the implementation of relevant UN resolutions so that Israel would stop its aggression on its neighbours.
At the Thematic Centre on "Neo-Liberal Globalisation," concluded on August 13, the delegates were in agreement that imperialism is the enemy of the people all over the world today. The discussions which spanned over 20 hours concluded with the unanimous passage of a resolution prepared by the Cuban delegation which stressed the need to carry forward the struggle against the imperialism.
The final thematic centres on Democracy, Human Rights and Social Justice and International Youth and Student Movements concluded with their respective declarations. The imperialist attacks on the sovereignty of nations was identified as a serious threat to democracy. The racial discrimination present in various countries and caste discrimination was also condemned. All the participants opined that social justice could be possible only in an egalitarian society. The implementation of land reforms and equitable distribution of wealth and resources was urged. The centre on Democracy, Human Rights and Social Justice unanimously said that the US and other imperialist countries have no right to pontificate on the question of human rights. The representatives of the Middle East countries condemned Israel and US for the Zionist attacks on Palestine and the economic blockade against Iraq respectively. There was a convergence of views that human rights could be protected and guaranteed only in a socialist world. The US was criticised for its interference in the third world countries in the name of human rights. Shakti Rai Choudhury and John Wesley (DYFI) and R Arun Kumar (SFI) spoke on behalf of the Indian delegation. Amit Kumar Mukherjee of AIYF also spoke.
Delegations from Cuba, Vietnam, Palestine, Iraq and Syria had put up detailed photographic descriptions of their countries at their stalls in the Solidarity Bazar. Palestine and Iraq talked about the inhuman attacks by Israel and US military and had a pictographic description of the victims and the nature of the attacks. These stalls attracted maximum number of delegates who extended their solidarity with those fighting for their homeland and the sovereignty of their nations.
Another major highlight of the Festival was "Anti-Imperialist Tribunal" which heard atrocities perpetuated against Cuba, Iraq, Palestine and African countries by imperialist powers.
The tribunal worked as a court, judging all the types of crimes committed by the imperialist powers against humanity in the past and at present. These crimes included launching of wars, military interventions, occupation, repression, massacres, killings, use of weapons of mass destruction, economic embargoes and blockades, exploitation and prevention of development, environmental destruction, etc. The presidium acted as "judges" during the sessions. All delegations presented to the tribunal the "cases" on certain crimes of imperialism. While putting the imperialist powers and governments in the dock, the tribunal used the opportunity to raise the awareness of youth about the anti-human nature of imperialism and its real threat to the humankind. It provided them rich information, arguments and evidence that can be used by youth and student organisations in their daily struggle against imperialism. A six member jury drawn from India, Cuba, Vietnam, Korea and Nepal listened to the charges made by representatives from 25 countries from Vietnam to Western Sahara. Sony Thengamam from National Preparatory Committee of India represented India in the Anti-Imperialist Tribunal. G Devarajan, another delegate from India, accused the imperialism of sponsoring terrorism in different parts of the world and also the USA for imposing sanctions against various countries such as Cuba, Iraq and Libya.
The birthday of Cuban president and revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, which fell on August 14, was widely celebrated at the Festival. The Cuban delegation sang songs greeting the Cuban leader, while other delegates joined them in wishing Castro a Happy Birthday.
Speaking at the last thematic centre on "International Youth and Student Movement," SFI general secretary Samik Lahiri said the youth and student organisations the world over have an immense task at hand --- to fight relentlessly against imperialism, which makes its diktat work in a country through its respective government. He also called for better coordination between the organisations so that a sustained struggle can be built. Stressing on the necessity to globalise the struggles, he empahsised the need for strengthening the International Union of Students and World Federation of Democratic Youth.
The 15th WFYS concluded by adopting a Declaration basing on the conclusions of all five thematic centres and on the judgement given the anti-imperialist tribunal. It recalled the glorious traditions of all previous festivals and the legacy of national liberation struggles, of the struggle for an egalitarian social order. It took into consideration the present situation in the world and the threat to global peace and security. It also took notice of the neo-liberal policies and the disastrous effects of imperialist-sponsored globalisation. It was alarmed by the growing disparities between the rich and poor and all sorts of discrimination based on race, sex and region and the vulnerability of youth and students exposed to such a situation. It reaffirmed faith in the fighting capacity of the toiling people and of the youth and students, and recalled the recent struggles. The Declaration concluded with a sense of confidence that was expressed in the words: "The new century will be a time for new victories."
The festival concluded with a grand closing ceremony with traditional and modern art forms of Africa displayed and watched by thousands of Algerian people.
The Declaration of the Festival is being printed along with this article.
(K K Ragesh and Kallol Roy are joint secretaries of the SFI.)