Apartheid South Africa

A Freedom Charter

The freedom charter was produced at Kliptown by black opposition movements, and was a direct result of the harsh injustices to oppress Africans of color in South Africa. It contained 10 clauses.
  1. The people shall govern, affirms the right of all, regardless of race, color or sex, to vote
  2. All national groups shall have equal rights, affords equality before the law, in the instruments of government, and in schools, and forbids racial insults.
  3. The people shall share in the country's wealth, calls for the nationalization of the mines, banks and industrial monopolies, for trade and industry to be controlled by for the benefit of the people, and for all people to have equal economic and job rights.
  4. The land shall be shared among those who work it, demands a redistribution of the land and state assistance for the peasantry, as well as the abolition of any restrictions on movements of people, access to land, and stock holdings.
  5. All shall be equal before the law, promises the abolition of detentions or banning without trial, as well as all discriminatory laws.
  6. All shall enjoy human rights, guarantees freedom of speech, worship, and association, and unfettered freedom of movement.
  7. There shall be work and security, recognizes the right of all to work and to equal pay for equal work, lays down minimum working conditions, and promises the abolition of child labor, compound labor, and the tot system.
  8. The doors of learning and culture shall be opened, sets out principles of free, universal, compulsory and equal education, promise to wipe out illiteracy, and undertakes to remove all cultural, sporting and educational color bars.
  9. There shall be houses, security and comfort, promises decent housing for all and the rationalization of accommodation, the demolition of slums and fenced townships, the provision of proper suburban amenities, proper medical care for all as well as care for the aged, the disabled and orphans.
  10. There shall be peace and friendship, South Africa will respect the rights of other states and will strive for peace.

In conclusion: Let all who love their people and country now say, as we say here: these freedoms we will fight for, side by side, throughout our lives until we have won liberty.

The approval of the Freedom Charter. On the June the 26th, 1955 at a Congress where delegates were discussing the Freedom charter police arrived in force armed with sten guns they formed a cordon around the sports field where the discussions were held. Fifteen security policeman then mounted the platform to address the crowd. They claimed that all people present at the congress were committing treason. They then confiscated all documents, posters and film and proceeded taking names and addresses of all the delegates. Everybody was under arrest. A few days later Congress Alliance proceeded to gain the charter's ratification by individual member organizations, and launched a campaign to get a million signatures endorsing the document.

The Treason Trial. A few months' later police conducted a raid on the homes of about 500 activists, seizing documents related to the Freedom charter, and also searching for possible evidence of high treason or sedition. Banning and restriction were served to hundreds of activists as the Apartheid government stepped up pressure on the liberation movements.

In December 1956 police organized a nationwide crackdown on the anti-apartheid movements, top leaders of these movements were arrested and driven or flown in military aircraft to Johannesburg where they were incarcerated in The Fort Prison.

In 1957 the "Treason Trial" began in the Johannesburg Drill Hall. The trial lasted until 1961. During this time the leaders of the various liberation movements had the opportunity of sharing ideas and making future plans.

International observers flocked to the trial. Supporters of the liberation movement from all over the world rallied around the black leaders in prison. Funds started pouring in to sustain the accused, their families and to pay legal costs.

Most of those charged were subsequently freed without going to trial. In 1961 the remaining 30 prisoners were freed. The trial lasted for more than 4 years 




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