International Union of Students meets

May 8, 1991

International Union of Students meets

By Adam Novak

PRAGUE — At an extraordinary congress here in mid-April, the International Union of Students, traditionally closely aligned with Moscow, relaunched itself as a decentralised and democratic organisation covering four continents.

Accusing IUS of support for the old regime and silence on student persecution in the Soviet bloc, the Czechoslovak government had decided to throw the union out of its base in Prague. That decision has now been reversed.

IUS general secretary Giorgis Michaelides told Green Left during the congress that there had always been discussion inside the secretariat, but the East European youth organisations had used their veto to bloc discussion. He stressed that in the future the IUS will avoid what he admitted was a "terrible double standard".

IUS materials circulated at the congress criticised the USA and the capitalist countries in similar tones to the old days. Treatment of the"ex-socialist" countries was very cautious.

The reformed IUS will bring together students from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. It currently associates some 110 organisations from 108 countries. It seems probable that leftist student unions in Finland, Austria and Malta will now request observer status, as may the half dozen initially skeptical Czechoslovakian student organisations.

The six or so large East European youth organisations that dominated the IUS until 18 months ago have disintegrated as a result of democratic upsurges in the region.

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