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

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]

Preparations

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]

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]

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