Memorandum to Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe, urging the British government to support the UN Secretary-General in implementing Security Council resolution 601 authorising him to arrange a ceasefire in Namibia. The memorandum criticised Prime Minister Thatcher’s effective endorsement of the US argument that Cuban troops must withdraw from Angola before agreement could be reached on Namibian independence.
Briefing for MPs speaking in the House of Commons debate called in response the banning of the United Democratic Front and other anti-apartheid organisations in South Africa in 1988. The AAM argued that the bannings showed that the British government’s strategy of encouraging President Botha to negotiate the ending of apartheid lacked credibility.
Letter from Lynda Chalker, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, telling the AAM Women‘s Committee that the British government had asked the South African government to commute the death sentences on the Sharpeville Six. One of the six was a woman, Theresa Ramashamola. The six were condemned to death for taking part in a demonstration at which a black deputy mayor was killed. They were eventually reprieved in July 1988 after spending two and a half years on death row.
Letter asking Prime Minister Thatcher to intervene directly with South African President Botha urging him to reconsider his rejection of an appeal for clemency for the Sharpeville Six. The Six were condemned to death for taking part in a demonstration at which a black deputy mayor was killed. They were reprieved in July 1988 after a huge international campaign and released in 1991 and 1992.
Letter from Archbishop Trevor Huddleston asking Prime Minister Thatcher to meet the freedom marchers who walked from Glasgow to London as part of the AAM’s ‘Nelson Mandela: Freedom at 70’ campaign. The British government changed its attitude in response to the growing campaign for Mandela’s freedom and by 1988 was calling for his unconditional release.
Letter from Prime Minister Thatcher’s office responding to the AAM’s request for the British government to intervene on behalf of the Upington 14. The 14 were sentenced to death because they were present at a demonstration during which a black policeman was killed. After international protests they were reprieved in May 1991, after two years on death row. The letter set out the government’s criteria for intervening in cases where political prisoners were condemned to death.
An English cricket team, led by Mike Gatting, planned to tour South Africa in 1990. This letter from the AAM’s President Archbishop Trevor Huddleston expressed dismay at Prime Minister Thatcher’s failure to implement the Commonwealth Gleneagles Agreement, committing governments to do all in the power to end sporting relations with South Africa.
Letter asking Prime Minister Thatcher to intervene with the South African government to stop the hanging of the Upington 14. The 14 were sentenced to death because they were present at a demonstration during which a black policeman was killed. After international protests they were reprieved in May 1991, after two years on death row.
This memorandum from the Liaison Committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movements of the European Community expressed concern about the EC’s plan to send a high-level troika of government ministers to South Africa. It proposed terms of reference for the mission. The Liaison Committee was set up in the late 1980s to co-ordinate anti-apartheid action in the European Community.
After the lifting of the bans on the liberation movements and the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990, the AAM argued that the British government should press President de Klerk to create a climate conducive to negotiations. This submission to the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee called for the maintenance of sanctions and the recognition of the central role of the African National Congress.
In the immediate aftermath of the lifting of the bans on the liberation movements in February 1990, the AAM accused the British government of allowing President de Klerk to dictate the scope and pace of change. This memorandum showed how Britain was encouraging the apartheid government to hold out for a constitution that fell short of universal suffrage in a united South Africa. It argued that the lifting of the State of Emergency and release of political prisoners were essential to create a climate conducive to genuine negotiations.
Submission to the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee showing Britain’s failure to enforce the limited restrictive measures it had placed on trade and investment in South Africa.
This memorandum to the Foreign Office and Overseas Development Administration described the impact of apartheid on the countries of the Southern African region. It argued that Britain had a special responsibility to help them overcome the legacy of aggression and destabilisation.
Memorandum prepared for a meeting with Lynda Chalker, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, in May 1993. It asked the government to put more pressure on the Pretoria government to end the violence in South Africa. In the aftermath of the murder of Chris Hani, it urged the government to press for a breakthrough in negotiations and to stress that the only acceptable outcome was a universal franchise in a united South Africa.
Victoria Brittain reported on Southern Africa for the Guardian newspaper in the 1980s. She worked closely with the Anti-Apartheid Movement, interviewing activists from the United Democratic Front and the Southern African liberation movements. She has also written extensively on Angola. Her books from the period include: Hidden Lives, Hidden Deaths, South Aftica’s Crippling of a Continent; Death of Dignity, Angola’s Civil War; and Children of Resistance (edited with Abdul Minty).
In this clip Victoria Brittain describes the change in media attitudes to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the late 1980s.