Conference of Youth and Students of Southeast Asia Fighting for Freedom and Independence

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The Conference of Youth and Students of Southeast Asia Fighting for Freedom and Independence, also referred to as the Southeast Asian Youth Conference, was an international youth and students event held in Calcutta, India on February 19–23, 1948. [1] It was co-organized by the World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students. It has often been claimed that the conference was the starting point for a series of armed communist rebellions in different Asian countries. [2]

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

World Federation of Democratic Youth youth organization

The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) is an international youth organization, recognized by the United Nations as an international youth non-governmental organization, and has historically characterized itself as anti-imperialist and left-wing. WFDY was founded in London in 1945 as a broad international youth movement, organized in the context of the end of World War II with the aim of uniting youth from the Allies behind an anti-fascist platform that was broadly pro-peace, anti-nuclear war, expressing friendship between youth of the capitalist and socialist nations. The WFDY Headquarters are in Budapest, Hungary. The main event of WFDY is the World Festival of Youth and Students. The last festival was held in Sochi, Russia, in October 2017. It was one of the first organizations granted general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

International Union of Students

The International Union of Students (IUS) is a worldwide nonpartisan association of university student organizations.



In 1947, a four-member delegation of WFDY travelled through different Asian countries. The delegation consisted of Olga Chechetkina (Soviet Union, journalist specialized in Southeast Asian affairs), Jean Lautissier, Rajko Tomović (Yugoslavia) and M. O. Oleson (Denmark). The purpose of the fact-finding tour was to survey the colonial situation and establish links with Asian youth movements. [1] [3] The mission had initially been scheduled for 1946, but delayed due to the conflict in Vietnam and the refusal of French authorities to issue permits for the delegation to enter Vietnam. [3]

Yugoslavia 1918–1992 country in Southeastern and Central Europe

Yugoslavia was a country in Southeastern and Central Europe for most of the 20th century. It came into existence after World War I in 1918 under the name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs with the Kingdom of Serbia, and constituted the first union of the South Slavic people as a sovereign state, following centuries in which the region had been part of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. Peter I of Serbia was its first sovereign. The kingdom gained international recognition on 13 July 1922 at the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris. The official name of the state was changed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 3 October 1929.

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Vietnam Country in Southeast Asia

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, part of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.

The delegation arrived in India in February 1947. They made contacts with different delegations that attended the Inter-Asian Relations Conference in Delhi. In Delhi, they discussed with Indonesian representatives the possibility of holding a pan-Asian youth conference in Indonesia in November 1947. In May, the WFDY team visited Indonesia and met with several high-ranking leaders (such as Sukarno, Hatta, etc.). In June 1947 the WFDY executive decided to go ahead with the plans, but limit the scope of the conference to Southeastern Asia. The Indonesians began preparations to host the conference in Madiun. However, in July 1947 (following the World Festival of Youth and Students), the WFDY executive decided to move the conference to Calcutta and postpone it to February 1948, as Indonesia was considered unsafe after Dutch attacks. The decision greatly disappointed the prospective Indonesian hosts. [3]

Delhi Megacity and Union territory of India

Delhi, officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), is a city and a union territory of India containing New Delhi, the capital of India. It is bordered by Haryana on three sides and by Uttar Pradesh to the east. The NCT covers an area of 1,484 square kilometres (573 sq mi). According to the 2011 census, Delhi's city proper population was over 11 million, the second-highest in India after Mumbai, while the whole NCT's population was about 16.8 million. Delhi's urban area is now considered to extend beyond the NCT boundaries and include the neighboring satellite cities of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Noida in an area now called Central National Capital Region (CNCR) and had an estimated 2016 population of over 26 million people, making it the world's second-largest urban area according to United Nations. As of 2016, recent estimates of the metro economy of its urban area have ranked Delhi either the most or second-most productive metro area of India. Delhi is the second-wealthiest city in India after Mumbai, with a total private wealth of $450 billion and is home to 18 billionaires and 23,000 millionaires.

Sukarno First President of the Republic of Indonesia

Sukarno was the first President of Indonesia, serving from 1945 to 1967.

Mohammad Hatta first Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia

Mohammad Hatta was Indonesia's first vice president, later also serving as the country's prime minister. Known as "The Proclamator", he and a number of Indonesians, including the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, fought for the independence of Indonesia from the Dutch. Hatta was born in Fort De Kock, West Sumatra, Dutch East Indies. After his early education, he studied in Dutch schools in the Dutch East Indies and studied in the Netherlands from 1921 until 1932.


The conference was attended by delegations from Burma, China, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Malaya, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Soviet Union and Vietnam. [2] [4] [5] Indian organizations present included the All India Trade Union Congress, the All India Students Federation, the All India Kisan Sabha, the Socialist Unity Centre of India, the Andhra Youth Federation and a sector of the All India Students Congress. [6]

China State in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Indonesia Republic in Southeast Asia

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres, the 14th largest by land area and the 7th largest in combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world's 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, contains more than half of the country's population.

Malayan Union federation of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca

The Malayan Union was a union of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to unify the Malay Peninsula under a single government to simplify administration. Following opposition by the ethnic Malays, the union was reorganized as the Federation of Malaya in 1948.

Malaya was represented by Lee Song. [1] The Indonesian delegation consisted of two persons, Francisca C. Fanggidaej and Supeno. [7] From Pakistan the Pakistan Federation of Democratic Youth was represented, amongst others. [6] The Soviet delegation consisted of Central Asians, amongst whom there were no high-ranking officials. [4] [7] Jean Lautissier was the main WFDY representative at the Conference. [3]

Supeno is the Minister of Development/Youth at First Hatta Cabinet. He died while still serving in the department as a result of the Dutch Military Aggression II. Supeno is now regarded as a National Hero of Indonesia.

Central Asia core region of the Asian continent

Central Asia stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of".

Most of the participating delegates at the Conference were non-communists. [4] From India there was a delegation of the youth of the Indian National Congress, and from Burma a delegation from the AFPFL youth. Both of these delegations reacted sharply to statements condemning 'sham independence' in India and Burma, and left the Conference in protest. [2] Pro-Congress elements attacked a house where a reception was held for the Soviet delegation to the Conference. Two Indian youth leaders, Sushil Mukhopadhyay and Bhabamadhav Ghosh, were killed in the attack. [8]

Indian National Congress Major political party in India

The Indian National Congress(pronunciation ) is a broadly based political party in India. Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa. From the late 19th century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement. Congress led India to independence from Great Britain, and powerfully influenced other anti-colonial nationalist movements in the British Empire.

Mass rally

A mass rally, with around 30,000 participants, was held in connection with the Conference. In the rally a Chinese delegate carried aloft a blood-stained shirt, from a Chinese communist fighter who had been killed in battle. [5]

Starting point for insurgencies?

The conference was held in the same month as the second congress of the Communist Party of India, which also took place in Calcutta. [2] [5] Some historians argue that these two events were utilized by the Cominform (then a newly founded body) to organize a large-scale armed communist rebellion across Asia. [2] Sir Francis Low writes (in Struggle for Asia) that "[t]he signal for action was given by the so-called South-East Asian Youth Conference which met in Calcutta in 1948 and was in reality a gathering of international Communist agents. There issued from the meeting a programme for insurrection and civil war which was carried, with dire results, to all the countries of South-East Asia." [9] Time magazine wrote in October 1948 that "[t]he new plan was devised last March. Communist delegates attended a "Southeast Asia Youth Conference" in Calcutta. A planeload of experts from Moscow came to give them their orders. ... After Words, Deeds. The plan worked out at Calcutta called for simultaneous revolts in Burma and Malaya. Three months after the outbreak of the Malayan revolt, Indonesia's Communists were to strike. As coordination center for the drive a 26-man Soviet Legation, largest in Southeast Asia, was set up in Bangkok." [10]

However, Bertil Lintner argues that there is no proof of any direct linkage between the Conference as such and the initiations of armed insurgencies in different Asian countries. [2] Ruth McVey states that whilst the Conference was the first public meeting of Southeast Asian communists after the Soviet declaration of the two-camp theory (that the world was divided into two camps, imperialism and socialism, and that confrontation between the two was unevitable), Asian communist were already aware of the new line prior to the Calcutta meeting. The Communist Party of India had adopted the new line of confrontation in December 1947. [3] Mari Olsen claims that it is unclear if the Calcutta conference would have been used to convey Soviet directives to Asian communists, as there were no senior Soviet representatives present. [4]

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  1. 1 2 3 Abstracts of Comber, Leon, Origins of the Cold War in Southeast Asia: The Case of the Communist Party of Malaya. A Special Branch Perspective Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine . and Efimova, L.M., New Russian Evidence on the Calcutta Youth Conference (February 1948) and Soviet Policy toward Indonesia
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