Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 20. Thursday, September 7, 1950
Salient ex-Editor Alec McLeod Writes from Prague on... — Ius Conference
Salient ex-Editor Alec McLeod Writes from Prague on...
"We demand the withdrawal of all US troops from Korea and the rescinding of the illegal decision of the Security Council."
This is a quotation from a resolution which was passed without dissent and with a very small number of abstentions on the second day of the Second World Student Congress in Prague.
Congress has now been sitting over a week. Delegates and observers from 71 countries number over 800, and the whole of Prague seems to have been reorganised around the Congress. Flags and decorations, messages of welcome and slogans of peace and friendship are seen on almost every building. On Saturday, August 12, the radio announced that there would be festivities that evening in Wenceslaus Square. This "square" is really a wide boulevard half a mile long, and it was packed with people—not only students of Prague and delegates, but thousands of ordinary citizens, singing and dancing for four hours. Even policemen joined in the dancing. Nothing was prepared beforehand; it was simply a matter of going there and joining in the fun. That evening was typical of the way Congress had been received here. Everywhere we were welcome, asked to sign autographs, invited into homes. Food and drink is pressed on us, and everyone wants to show us the sights of this wonderful city. We are quite free to go where we choose, and of course we do this in different ways. Some go to small pubs like the Slavia where the opponents of the regime are to be found, while others visit friends who are just bursting to tell us about the achievements of the Czech people.
New Zealand is represented by four, people—Bruce Miller for N.Z.U.S.A., of which he is vice-president, while ' Keith and Jackie Matthews and I observe for V.U.C. and the New Zealand Student Labour Federation. I should like to report briefly on the central theme of the Congress discussions.
On the issue of peace, most national unions have strongly sup-ported the Stockholm appeal for the banning of the atomic bomb, and their representatives have, little patience with other delegates who say that their peace campaigns can not include signing the appeal, especially now that the Defenders of Peace have now broadened the appeal to including banning all weapons of mass destruction.
We have received many accounts of the appalling conditions obtaining in colonial and semi-colonial countries, including Malaya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cuba, Greece and many others which present a uniform picture of violent repression, extreme poverty of educational opportunities and denial of the most elementary rights to the large majority of the population. Students of all these countries are quite sure they Can obtain educational opportunities only when they are fully independent. Theirs is a political struggle similar to that being carried on by the students of Korea and Viet-Nam. Whose delegates received tumultuous applause from the Congress.
In the face of the evidence of the students of, these countries, the appeals of the National Unions of Great Britain, Scotland, Denmark, Finland, U.S.A., Australia, and New Zealand for the restriction of the political work of I.U.S. to the needs of students as such have been received very coldly. To the spokesmen of these Unions, the delegates of Puerto Rico, Nigeria and many others have asked: what is your Union doing about national independence for colonial peoples? The only answers, that have been made are that the British N.U.S. has sent books to Malaya and that the N.S.A. of America passed a resolution deploring the outbreak of violence in the University of Puerto Rico.
New Zealand students might do well to study the report of the French N.U.S. which is conducting vigorous campaigns against the French colonial war in Viet-Nam and is demanding for all students at least the salary paid to people in factories who are the same age. This Union is, in fact, working for the aims of I.U.S. It is only in such cases that it is reasonable to criticise the work of I.U.S. because otherwise the question: what are you doing at home? is unanswerable.
"(f) To give support to all governments and social organisations which strive for peace and security."
"(k) To assist the students of colonial and dependent countries to attain their full social economic and educational development: to this end, to render to the students and peoples of these countries all possible assistance in their struggle for freedom and independence."
Can anyone claim that they support these claims without also supporting the Stockholm Appeal, and the liberation movements of Asia, Africa and Central America?