Political prisoners

pic8901. ‘Support the hunger strikers’, February 1989

Early in 1989 more than 300 South African detainees went on hunger strike in protest against their detention without trial. Altogether over 1,000 people were held without charge, some of them for over two years. AAM and ANC supporters held a vigil outside South Africa House. Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) asked British Foreign Office Minister Lynda Chalker to tell the South African ambassador that his government must release the detainees.

pri37. ‘Support the Hunger Strikers’

Early in 1989 more than 300 South African detainees went on hunger strike in protest against their detention without trial. Altogether over 1,000 people were held without charge, some of them for over two years. AAM and ANC supporters held a solidarity vigil outside South Africa House and Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society asked British Foreign Office Minister Lynda Chalker to tell the South African ambassador that his government must release the detainees.

mda31. ‘Free South Africa Now!’


Early in 1990 the AAM joined with the ANC and other organisations to set up a British Nelson Mandela Reception Committee, convened by AAM President Trevor Huddleston. As well as celebrating Mandela’s freedom, the Committee called for the release of all South African political prisoners and the creation of conditions for negotiations for a new democratic constitution. This leaflet publicised a demonstration at the South African Embassy to coincide with President de Klerk’s expected announcement of the date of Mandela’s release.

tu37. ‘Resistance and Represssion’ trade union conference

Programme for a conference on trade unions in South Africa held on 24 February 1990. After the banning of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1988, the trade union movement led the opposition to apartheid. The conference mobilised support for trade unionists who had been arrested and detained.

wom13. International Women’s Day

Leaflet advertising a picket of South Africa House on International Women’s Day, 1990. South Africa continued to hold hundreds of political prisoners and detainees, including many women, after the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990. The campaign for the release of all political prisoners was one of the priorities of the AAM in the early 1990s.

pic9009. ‘Release South African political prisoners‘

On 11 October 1990, designated as UN South African Political Prisoners Day, Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) held a vigil outside the British Foreign Office calling for the release of all South African political prisoners. SATIS asked the British Prime Minister to press President de Klerk to implement his pledge to free the prisoners.

pic9101. ‘Free political prisoners’

Demonstrators told President de Klerk he must honour his promise to free all political prisoners by the 30 April deadline agreed with the ANC, as he arrived for a reception at the South African Embassy in April 1991.

po128. Free All Political Prisoners in South Africa

The South African government failed to honour the agreement it signed with the ANC in August 1990 to release all political prisoners, and at least 284 were still in prison in June 1991. The AAM campaigned to ensure that the prisoners were not forgotten and for freedom for all political prisoners.