Interview: WFDY leader on the key issues faced by youth across the world today including in Iran

Aritz Rodríguez Galán, General Secretary of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), answers questions from the Tudeh Youth on the 75th Anniversary of WFDY, the key areas of its work, and how it intends to support the youth of Iran struggling for peace, democratic rights, and social progress.

This month WFDY is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its foundation. What do you see as the key areas of your work as you go forward from this milestone?
Aritz Rodríguez Galán The 10th of November of 1945, the World Youth Conference, organised in London, founded the World Federation of Democratic Youth. This historic conference convened at the initiative of the World Youth Council which was formed during World War II to fight against fascism by the youth of the allied countries and brought together for the first time in the history of the international youth movement representatives of more than 30 million young people of different political ideologies and religious beliefs from 63 nations. It adopted a pledge for peace and international solidarity. Since its foundation, WFDY has fought against the number one enemy of the peoples, Imperialism, with the conviction that from the unity, work and struggle of the young workers and students it would be possible to build the world we have dreamed of and fought for.

Since the defeat of socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, there has been an increasingly hostile environment for working-class youth. What are the key objectives of WFDY in challenging this situation?
A.R.G.: The consequences of this event were manifold and generally affected all those who aspired to overcome this system based on exploitation. Even the World Federation of Democratic Youth itself and its member organisations were affected by this event. The loss of references, of current experiences from which to learn for the processes that each country is carrying out, the feeling that this other possible world is moving away. The impact it had on the youth and people, and which it still has today, is more than evident. But, in addition to the obvious ideological consequences that we have mentioned about the absence of references and the feeling of defeat, other material consequences must also be highlighted. The absence of forces capable of acting as a counterweight to the advances of Imperialism is one of the consequences that affect all the peoples of the world. And, in particular, the consequences that this had in the countries that remained under the domination of the monopolies were fatal: privatizations, the disappearance of practically all rights, deterioration of living conditions, etc. Despite the serious consequences this had, the ideological strength of WFDY, as well as the certainty that our honourable comrades had that a world free from exploitation was possible, kept our organisation strong and made it possible for WFDY to keep on struggling until today. The mere fact that WFDY survived this crisis, is alive today and moving forward is already a great victory. But it is a victory that we do not settle for. Now it is time to show again that another world is possible, that it is possible to end this imperialist, oppressive and exploitative system.

The young generation in the Middle East (ME) has been the main victim of endless imperialist intervention, war, and dictatorship. What are the main ways in which WFDY has been able to support the struggle of youth in the region?
A.R.G.: Nowadays, WFDY is formed by more than 150 organisations from all the continents. We have regional commissions in Africa; Asia and Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; the Middle East and North Africa; and North America and Europe. The region of the Middle East and North Africa, as the other regions, has its bodies, regional coordination, regional meetings, and many other tools to deepen in the analysis of the World Federation of Democratic Youth. This means that, in addition to the analysis and work that we carry out at the international level from WFDY, we have this regional implantation that allows us a greater knowledge and work on the concrete reality. This has allowed us to do a great job in support of the noble struggle of the youth and the Palestinian people that has been going on for so many years without interruption. It has allowed us to support the protests in Iraq, Lebanon and in so many countries where our comrades have played a leading role. It has provided us with in-depth knowledge of the various offensives that Imperialism was developing against the peoples of Syria, Libya and so many other countries. It has allowed us to develop countless campaigns in support of the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. An example of this is the latest campaign we launched in solidarity with the Lebanese youth and people in the face of the explosion of the Beirut port, the consequences of the pandemic, and the worrying situation that Lebanon was already suffering before this catastrophes.

The anti-imperialist struggle in the region is hampered by dictatorship and repressive measures directed at young women and men, preventing them from organising effectively. In what ways is WFDY addressing this situation?
A.R.G.: The repression is used by the ruling classes to stop our fair claims and maintain their domination, it’s an instrument of domination and intimidation against the youth and the working class. Sadly, this is happening in Iran, but also almost all the countries. In the case of Iran, we have expressed our solidarity towards the people of Iran in their struggle for peace, sovereignty, human y democratic rights and social justice. This doesn’t mean that we support foreign intervention, the option supported by the Imperialism, we reject that way and defend that the future of the country will be determined by the Iranian people. We also condemned the situation of Saeid Tamjidi, Mohammad Rajabi and Amirhossein Moradi, three young men who were sentenced to the death penalty because of taking part in a pacific protest against the Iranian government. Working on the side of the oppressed peoples of the world is not an easy task. In each reality, each organisation uses all the tools at its disposal to confront the repression: awareness campaigns on the repressive character of the system, resistance boxes to pay fines, support structures for prisoners, etc. In WFDY we have organisations that have to struggle in countries that suffer from occupation, in countries where the Imperialism hits harder, in countries where they are persecuted by the repressive apparatus of the ruling classes, where the criminalisation campaigns of our comrades are impressive, etc. In general, all our comrades have everything against them in their struggles. Everything except History. History will always be in favour of those of us who advocate overcoming this system that condemns us to lives of misery.

The youth of Iran has paid a heavy price for its struggle for peace, human and democratic rights, and progressive change, and against theocratic dictatorship. How can WFDY extend and deepen its solidarity with the progressive youth in Iran going forward?
A.R.G.: In this type of situation, there are always three clear lines of work. The first one is obviously to support our comrades in this situation, in this case, our Iranian comrades of Tudeh. Knowing the reality they are going through, what are the offensives they are suffering, the situation of the country, etc. is fundamental to be able to work in solidarity consciously. The second one is at the international level, showing what the situation is like for the young and the people of the world. That is, to act as a link that brings to the different corners of the world the reality that young workers and students go through in each country. And the third one is, without a doubt, a fundamental axis of work: that in each country, we have to share in each neighbourhood, in each study centre, in each workplace, what is the situation that our comrades, our friends, our brothers and sisters are going through in different places of the world, showing that, even though the borders separate us, the struggle is one because the enemy is one, Imperialism. In this way, we can show the solidarity of the youth and the peoples of the world with Iran, as well as with all the peoples of the world, and make young workers and students in our countries aware of this situation and join this international struggle against the number one enemy of the peoples: Imperialism.

Currently, many university students and youth activists are imprisoned in Iran. Some are sentenced to execution for their part in anti-government demonstrations in 2018 and 2019. What can be done to ensure that WFDY prioritises its already effective work in this area, campaigning for the right of young women and men to be involved in the political and social struggle in pursuit of their demands?
A.R.G.: As I commented in the previous question, by developing these three lines of work we can guarantee that our denunciations, demands and requirements reach the whole of the youth and the peoples of the world. The work that you, our comrades from Tudeh, are carrying out in Iran is fundamental. To know what is happening in Iran, what are the struggles taking place, the situation of the country etc. is fundamental. In the same way, to amplify this on an international level, so that later in every member organisation you can share in every neighbourhood, in every study centre and every workplace the reality of Iran and the rest of the young workers and students of the world.

Given the negative political and socio-economic developments in a large part of the world during the last decade, and especially the disastrous mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic and threats of climate change, what is WFDY’s analysis of the future for youth and its struggle for fundamental change?
A.R.G.: Just days before the existence of the Covid-19 became known and began to spread around the world, in Nicosia (Cyprus), hundreds of young people met at the 20th General Assembly of the WFDY. Anyone would think that the global pandemic would have nullified the analyses that were made before we knew the devastation that the virus would cause. Sadly, no. During the pandemic, we have seen every one of our analyses reaffirmed. We analysed how the privatisation of basic public services such as health could have serious consequences among the youth and the working class – and the pandemic has shown the consequences of having a privatised health system and a deteriorated public-health system. We analysed that the employment situation, both in the youth and in the working class as a whole, was precarious and the conditions were miserable – and the pandemic has further aggravated what we discussed in this analysis. We said that imperialism was the number-one enemy of the peoples – and during the pandemic, the only concern of the imperialist forces has been to increase their power, for which they have maintained their imperialist interferences, illegal blockades and sanctions and endless more offensives against the peoples. In this situation, several lines of work remain clear: To denounce how this system has multiplied the effects of the pandemic; to recognise how the anti-imperialist countries have been exemplary in the management of the pandemic in comparison with the management of the imperialist forces; to claim the experiences of self-organisation that have emerged during the pandemic to face the consequences of the crisis and to maintain them in a scenario where the crisis of the system threatens to continue and fall on the shoulders of the working class; and, most importantly, to point out the imperialist system as the culprit of the miseries we live in, as the root of the problem, and the need to overcome this system to build the world we have dreamed of and fought for.

Published in “Nameh Mardom” Central Organ of the Tudeh Party of Iran, issue 1116, 9th November 2020

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