Political prisoners

pri40. ‘Freedom for Robert Sobukwe’

Pan-Africanist Congress President Robert Sobukwe was detained after the Sharpeville massacre and sentenced to three years imprisonment. At the end of his sentence in May 1963 he was detained and held on Robben Island for a further six years. This leaflet publicises a meeting in the early 1960s calling for his release. The AAM also asked the International Commission of Jurists and the Red Cross to protest against his continued detention.

60s14. Anti-Apartheid Month, November 1963

The Anti-Apartheid Movement launched an ‘Anti-Apartheid Month’ in November 1963 in response to increasing repression in South Africa and the arrest of Nelson Mandela and his comrades in July. Its three main demands were an end to arms sales to South Africa, asylum for political refugees and the release of political prisoners. Anti-apartheid meetings were held all over Britain during the month, most of them organised by university anti-racialist societies and addressed by recently arrived South African refugees like Joe Slovo.

po003. Release South African political prisoners

Poster calling for the release of South African political prisoners, one of three campaign themes of the AAM’s Anti-Apartheid Month in November 1963. The other themes were arms sales to South Africa and protection for refugees.

60s15. ‘Free the Prisoners’

Leaflet calling for the release of South African political prisoners distributed during the AAM’s  November 1963 Anti-Apartheid Month.

wom12. Caroline Motsoaledi

Caroline Motsoaledi was the wife of Andrew Motsoaledi, one of the accused in the Rivonia trial. She was held in detention and released without charge. This leaflet highlighted the situation of South African women who were arrested for questioning about their husband’s activities. Children were often left alone and uncared for when their parents were arrested.

po144. ‘Save These Lives’ poster

The World Campaign for the Release of South African Political Prisoners was set up by the AAM in response to a UN General Assembly resolution passed on 11 October 1963 calling for the charges in the Rivonia trial to be dropped and the release of all South African political prisoners. The campaign circulated an international declaration calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and his co-accused. It was largely because of the international campaign that the death sentence was not imposed. This poster was part of the campaign.

pri05. ‘Save These Lives’ sticker

Sticker produced as part of the AAM’s campaign to mobilise public opinion against the imposition of the death penalty in the trial of Nelson Mandela and his co-accused. The campaign played a big part in saving the lives of Mandela and the other Congress leaders.

pri01. Declaration calling for the release of South African political prisoners

This Declaration was signed by 160 world figures prominent in the arts, churches, academia, trade unions and politics. It called for the release of South African political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and others arrested at Rivonia and PAC leader Robert Sobukwe. It was launched by the World Campaign for the Release of South African Political Prisoners, set up in response to a UN General Assembly resolution passed in October 1963.