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Boycott (143)
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gov10. Letter from Abdul Minty to Ted Rowlands

Letter following up a meeting between an AAM delegation and Foreign Office Minister Ted Rowlands to discuss the AAM’s memorandum of 19 April 1976 on Britain’s arms embargo. The letter detailed loopholes in the arms embargo and exposed the fact that South Africa had access to the NATO Codification System.

int31t. Jerry Dammers transcript

Jerry Dammers formed the Specials in Coventry in 1977. He was an anti-apartheid activist from his school days, and in 1986 founded Artists Against Apartheid to involve musicians in anti-apartheid campaigns and promote the cultural boycott of South Africa. He wrote the song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’, which became an international hit and helped raise awareness of the situation of Nelson Mandela and political prisoners in South Africa.

This is a complete transcript of an interview carried out as part of the Forward to Freedom AAM history project in 2013.

pic6905. Springboks v Oxford University

Police removed demonstrators from the pitch at the Springbok v Oxford University game at Twickenham on 5 November. The game was moved from Oxford after the police found out about plans to disrupt the game. Throughout the match demonstrators taunted the players with Nazi salutes and chanted ‘Sieg Heil’. There were protest demonstrations at all 24 games in the 1969/70 Springbok tour of Britain and Ireland.

pic7003. March for David Kitson, May 1970

In the early 1970s the Ruskin College Kitson Committee organised an annual march from Oxford to London over the Whitsun holiday. The group campaigned for the release of political prisoner and former trade unionist David Kitson, serving a 20-year sentence in South Africa. The 1970 march ended in a rally in Trafalgar Square at which trade union leaders asked workers to refuse to work on arms for South Africa.

Pic8108. Boycott Shell and BP

This banner saying ‘No Shell-BP Oil for Apartheid’ was suspended from a footbridge in Southampton in June 1981. The action was part of a national Month of Boycott of Shell and BP organised by the AAM. Southampton AA Group members picketed local Shell and BP garages throughout the month. 

pri17. SATIS founding conference, 1973

Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) was a coalition that worked for the release of political prisoners in Southern Africa. Two hundred people attended its founding conference on 8 December 1973. They set up a campaign that brought together the AAM, IDAF, National Union of Students and the Ruskin and AUEW (TASS) Kitson Committees. For the next 20 years SATIS worked on behalf of political prisoners and for the release of all those detained without trial. In the 1980s it led campaigns to save the lives of political activists sentenced to death by the apartheid government.

gov11. Letter from Bishop Ambrose Reeves to James Callaghan

After the killing of Steve Biko and banning of anti-apartheid organisations in South Africa in 1977, the British government voted for a UN mandatory arms embargo against South Africa. At the same time it announced it would veto a draft UN Security Council resolution imposing economic sanctions. This letter from the AAM’s President Bishop Ambrose Reeves expressed dismay at the decision to veto and asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister. 

bdg05. ANC Says Sanctions Now!
int29a2. David Hillman interview clip

David Hillman became an Anti-Apartheid Movement activist in 1985, joining Hammersmith and Fulham AA Group. He was a member of the London Anti-Apartheid Committee and the AAM Boycott Committee, where he led activities on the Boycott Shell campaign across London. After 1994, he served for over 10 years as a member of the National Executive Committee of Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA).

In this clip David Hillman describes how he pretended to be a journalist to infiltrate South Africa House during a tourist industry convention.

pic6906. Springboks v Midland Counties East

Police drag a protester off the pitch at the Springboks v Midland Counties East game at Leicester on 8 November. Thousands joined a march to the ground before the match. There were anti-apartheid protests at all 24 games in the 1969/70 Springbok tour of Britain and Ireland.

pic7004. South Africa House occupation, August 1970

On 25 August 1970 anti-apartheid activists infiltrated South Africa and sat in its entrance hall until they were ejected by South African officials. They were protesting at the trial in Pretoria of 20 South Africans on charges of belonging to the ANC. The 20 included Winnie Mandela and Benjamin Ramotse, who was later sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

gov12. Submission to Government Inquiry on Sanctions Busting by Shell and BP

In 1977 the British government set up the Bingham Inquiry into allegations that Shell and BP had supplied oil to Rhodesia in contravention of UN sanctions. This submission exposed Shell and BP’s sanctions busting operations. It asked the British government to press South Africa to allow international scrutiny of British-owned oil companies in South Africa. 

pic6907. Springboks v Midland Counties East

Outside Welford Road rugby ground before the Springboks v Midland Counties East game at Leicester on 8 November. Thousands joined a march to the ground before the match. There were anti-apartheid protests at all 24 games in the 1969/70 Springbok tour of Britain and Ireland.

pic7107. Protest at the death of Ahmed Timol

This protester was one of a group of around 30 people who infiltrated South Africa House to protest against the death of Ahmed Timol. Timol was killed in detention by South African security police on 27 October 1971. His death provoked widespread protests in Britain. He was a former teacher and British teaching unions joined the protests. Ahmed Timol was the 20th political detainee known to have died in police custody.

pic7702. AAM march and rally, 6 March 1977

Trade union banners on a march to Trafalgar Square calling for an end to British arms sales to South Africa and a freeze on investment, 6 March 1977.

arm16. The Labour movement and the Southern African struggle

This memorandum showed how the Labour government elected in 1974 was failing to honour its election pledge to end military links with South Africa. It asked trade unionists and Labour Party members to press the government to end military co-operation and to take action on Zimbabwe and Namibia.

bom01. Launch of the Boycott Movement, 1959

Report of the meeting held in Holborn Hall on 26 June 1959 to launch a boycott of South African goods. The speakers were Julius Nyerere, then President of the Tanganyika Legislative Council, Kanyama Chiume from Nyasaland (later Malawi), ANC representative Tennyson Makiwane, Vella Pillay, representing the South African Indian Congress, and Rev. Michael Scott. The meeting was organised by the Committee of African Organisations. This report appeared in the July issue of the Transvaal Indian Congress Bulletin and is the only known contemporary account of the meeting.


SATIS-ACTION was a scheme that alerted subscribers to new political trials and death sentences in South Africa and Namibia. Supporters were asked to send letters and telegrams to the South African government and to ask the British government to intervene.

pic9015. Nelson Mandela at Wembley

Nelson Mandela at the Wembley concert held on 16 April 1990.

gov13. Letter from Abdul Minty to David Owen

Letter to Foreign Secretary David Owen from the AAM’s Hon. Secretary Abdul Minty in November 1978 enclosing evidence of breaches of the British arms embargo against South Africa and calling for a parliamentary inquiry. 

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