50th Anniversary of AAPSO 1st Statement

Fifty years of AAPSO
For all the National Committees and Friends of AAPSO

Dear Friends,

In this year 2007, Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization enters the 50th year of its founding. It was in 1957 December that AAPSO was formally inaugurated in a convention of a very representative international gathering in Cairo. Most of those veterans who participated in this gathering are no more with us, but their sustained effort and spirit still remains in the movement providing enormous strength to move forward in the 21st century.

Looking back 50 years ago was a different world. Although most of the Asian countries attained their independence, in Africa except for very few countries the continent remained under colonial rule. The resurgent new independent nations in Asia were making efforts to consolidate their freedom by forging solidarity among them. Actually it was at the height of the independence struggle of India in 1947 that Sri Javharlal Nehru called Asian relations conference in March as the first step in the direction of Asian solidarity in future. This was followed after the independence of other Asian countries in the convening of the first Colombo conference of five nations - India, SriLanka (Ceylon), Burma (Mynmar), Pakistan and Indonesia in 1954. By this time imperialism was receding in Asia with the Victory of liberation of Chinese peoples in 1949, and new China had become an inspiration to the rest of the continent. Korean war had ended without a final settlement and the patriotic Vietnamese were inflicting huge defeat to the imperialist forces, and the final assault on the French forces in the battle of Dian Bien Phu in 1954 sealed the French aggression to be their “Waterloo” in Vietnam. After the Paris Conference in 1954 France withdrew from Indo-China. But only paving the way for the U.S. to subjugate Indo-China with gradually increasing to a massive U.S. force. Vietnam struggle under Ho Chi Minh had provided a charismatic inspiration to all anti-imperialist forces in the world. Vietnam was a household word and the Peoples Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) was a shinning star eager to emulate by others.

The Colombo powers in its conference decided to convene the conference of Asian and African Leaders in 1955 in Bandung-Indonesia. By that time India and China had become close friends with the signing of Nehru-Chou Enlai agreement came to be known a panchseela or the five principles of inter state relations. On Nehru’s initiative Chou En Lai was invited to the Bandung conference and both along with Gamal Abdul Nassar played a significant role in forging of the solidarity between Africa and Asia. The Bandung spirit provided the inspiration for the people of Asia and Africa for enhancing the liberation movements specially in Africa which led to the convening of the international conference in Cairo in 1957 December for the formation of AAPSO.

In fact it was the initiative of Indian organization of solidarity led by Srimathi Rameswari Nehru who visited with a delegation to Cairo and met with President Gamel Abdul Nasser and agreed on the formation of AAPSO with the Head Office in Cairo. Bandung spirit did not stop in the formation of AAPSO. It went farther and in 1961 in the first Belgrade conference of governments of developing countries, a new force was built under the name of Non-Aligned Movement.

The establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961 was a great step forward for the people of Asia and Africa. Although the non-aligned movement became an organization of the governments of the developing countries, nevertheless, the role played by peoples movements such as AAPSO in its formation cannot be overlooked. It was in recognition of this factor that AAPSO was accepted as an observer by NAM countries. Accordingly AAPSO remains one among three or four non-governmental Organizations to be accorded observer status in NAM and invited to participate in all its ministerial and summit conferences.

AAPSO’s contribution to the peoples’ movements in Africa and Asia had a positive dimension in educating the people of these two continents for a way forwards in creating a new world. While upholding the Charter of the United Nations, AAPSO continued to disseminate the leading role of the world body with other like minded movements. It campaigned in the field of disarmament, development, empowering women, protection of environment, eradication of poverty and diseases. United nations faced formidable obstacles by powerful countries including withholding funding. But NAM and the peoples movements stood firmly to strengthen the world body in the international conferences organised by the U.N. and other agencies, AAPSO played its role. Similarly it also made all efforts to pressurise NAM countries for an independent economic development, protecting the sovereignty of the countries. In this sphere it did not hesitate to criticise the NAM countries about their human rights violation and departing from the democratic norms.

Non-aligned movement played a formidable role in the U.N. and even today it is the biggest group. Nevertheless after 1970’s its charishma began to deteriorate mostly owing to the failure of NAM countries. This tendency also affected and weakened the position and the role of AAPSO. On the one hand NAM became more bureaucratic and over the years changed the rules thereby participation of peoples organizations was restricted. This weakness had a negative effect both in the NAM and also in AAPSO.

Today AAPSO despite its enormous constraints has been able to provide positive thinking among the people of Asia and Africa. The situation today is not similar to what it was fifty years ago. But the issues facing the people of both continents are same. If it was neo-colonialism that confronted the people of developing countries; today it is “economic hegemonism” that strongly affect the people. This new tendency is more formidable than the neo-conlonialist period because the technicalities of operation is sophisticated and not directly seen by the people. With scientific and technological revolution, the strongest economies are able to dictate terms to the weak. This can overcome only by forging a formidable movement. We hope that our national committees and friends to be more alert to this situation and close ranks to build a strong Afro-Asian Peoples’ Organization to face these new challenges.

In this year of the 50th anniversary, the Permanent Secretariat is planning to organize series of events in different centers, culminating in the representative gathering in Cairo. It will also prepare a publication depicting the fifty years of AAPSO’s history.

The Permanent Secretariat