Statement by Romesh Chandra, Secretary-General, World Peace Council, Helsinki at the meeting of the Special Political Committee of the General Assembly
Mr. Chairman, the World Peace Council is most grateful to you and to the Special Political Committee of the General Assembly for this opportunity for our delegation to be heard on the crucial problems posed by the policy of apartheid pursued by the racist Pretoria regime. Apartheid is becoming an ever greater menace to the very lives of millions of citizens whom it enslaves inside South Africa, but equally to the independence of all African States and indeed to the peace and security of the whole world.
This hearing, granted to the World Peace Council by this Committee marks, in our view, a new landmark in the growing cooperation in the common task of the rapid elimination of racism and racial discrimination, between the United Nations and the World Peace Council and other non-governmental organizations, between the anti-racist majority of the governments of the world. In this cooperation between governments and the peoples of the world lies the key to the effective struggle to end the hated system of apartheid, whose continuation is a violation of the United Nations Charter and of numerous United Nations resolutions and, indeed, a monstrous crime against humanity.
From its very foundation, some twenty-two and a half years ago, the World Peace Council has placed at the head of its aims, objectives and principles, the struggle to end and eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms. The World Peace Council has repeatedly condemned racialism and apartheid and has to its credit numerous popular actions taken over all these years against the hated Pretoria regime. I would like to mention here a fact which gives the World Peace Council tremendous pride. We have been able to count among our most distinguished members, the outstanding leaders of the South African peoples struggle for liberation against apartheid. Among the founders of the World Peace Council, those whose names have given the World Peace Council great authority over all these years was the late Chief Albert Lutuli, President-General of the African National Congress of South Africa and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Today also, in the membership and in the highest leadership, the Presidential Committee of the World Peace Council, we find the names of the main leaders of the liberation movement of the people of South Africa. Mr. Oliver Tambo, who has succeeded the late Chief Lutuli as acting President of the African National Congress, the mighty liberation movement of the South African people, is a member of the Presidential Committee, one of the most respected of those who make the policies of the World Peace Council. The principal leaders of the liberation movements of southern Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (Bissau) are also members of the World Peace Council`s leadership. Their participation guarantees that the Council can take ever more active and effective steps in solidarity with the peoples fighting against racist and colonialist regimes.
Today the World Peace Council delegation is proud to be able to speak in the name of its National Committees in well over a hundred countries of the world, but most of all because it is able to speak also on behalf of the liberation movements of southern Africa and on behalf of the great movement of the South African people which is battling against apartheid.
Last night the Special Political Committee discussed and adopted what we believe is a most timely resolution in condemnation of the barbaric maltreatment and torture of opponents of apartheid in South Africa and the increased persecution of religious leaders opposed to that policy. The resolution`s ringing call for the repeal of the infamous repressive legislation of the Pretoria regime and for the liberation of all persons imprisoned, detained, banned or banished for their opposition to apartheid, can and must become the rallying point for immediate action by the peoples of the world.
The World Peace Council, for its part, would like to assure you, Mr. Chairman, and all delegations who sponsored and supported the resolution, that it will take immediate measures to launch a world-wide campaign round the powerful demands made in the resolution. I am addressing a letter here and now to all non-governmental organizations which are taking part in the anti-apartheid movement, calling on them to join in world actions against torture and murder in South African prisons, for the repeal of the brutal repressive legislation and for the liberation of all prisoners, detainees and exiles condemned for their opposition to apartheid.
The World Peace Council will at the same time offer its full co-operation to the Special Committee on Apartheid, in the preparation of the report requested by your resolution on all known cases of maltreatment and torture in South African prisons.
Our delegation present here at the United Nations is beginning consultations with the Unit on Apartheid and the Office of Public Information, on the ways and means in which the World Peace Council and its Information Centre can assist in the publication and diffusion of material on the conditions in South African concentration camps, with a view to strengthening the mass campaign on this crucial issue in all parts of the world.
It is necessary to view this Special Political Committee resolution in the entire context of the work which is being done by governments and peoples, by the United Nations and by the World Peace Council and other mass non-governmental organizations for the ending of the entire system of apartheid.
We are approaching the end of the year declared by the United Nations to be an International Year for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. The World Peace Council has, during this year, undertaken several actions to mobilize public opinion against all forms of acquiescence in and co-operation with the apartheid system in South Africa. We believe that we can say that the actions initiated by the World Peace Council this year have been among the most effective observances of the year.
But despite these and other positive achievements of the International Year, the truth must be faced that 1971 has actually been a year also of the intensification of the support given by certain Governments and by gigantic financial interests to the Pretoria regime support which has helped in the consolidation and strengthening of apartheid.
Delegations present here are well aware that the annual report of the Reserve Bank of South Africa for the year ending 30 June 1971 shows that there was a record inflow of capital from overseas into South Africa during the year 1970-71 of 725 million rand, as against only 224 million in 1968-69 and 374 million in 1969-70.
The fact is that the International Year has been celebrated by certain Powers by a deliberate policy of increasing military and economic assistance to the apartheid regime. The supply of arms by the British Government to South Africa rightly aroused world-wide protest. 1971 saw growing military collaboration between the United Kingdom and South Africa. The British Governments explanations of this military collaboration speak of their commitments to defend southern Africa, jointly with South Africa, against what the two parties may consider to be “aggression from without”.
May I remind members of the Committee that Mr. J .B. Vorster has clearly indicated that he regards the armed liberation struggles in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola and Mozambique as aggression from without.
The defence of southern Africa and of the sea routes around it is not the business of white minority settler regimes. It is the business of the peoples of Africa themselves, the black peoples of Africa.
I must add a word here on the dangerous and despicable role played by the military and economic collaboration with the South African white rulers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, Israel and other NATO and pro-NATO Governments. The Pretoria regime has all along been built up as a major base for the cold war and war policies of its partners. During the last few days, the British navy has been engaged in month-long joint exercises with the South African navy, which were due to end yesterday.
South Africa constitutes an essential pillar in the United States and British plans to set up a series of military, naval and air bases in the Indian Ocean, threatening the independence of all Indian Ocean States and the peace of the entire region.
The Chairman of the Special Committee on Apartheid wrote letters to the Presidents of the Security Council and of the General Assembly, on 7 October last, drawing pointed attention to the agreement between the Armaments Development and Production Corporation of South Africa Ltd., and a French armament company for manufacture in South Africa of Mirage III and F-l aircraft. And only a few days ago, on 27 October, France delivered to South Africa a second submarine.
All these are only examples of the continuous and increasing violation in the most flagrant and open way of United Nations resolutions and decisions.
The World Peace Council would like to make on this occasion a special appeal to the twenty-sixth [session of the] General Assembly of the United Nations to follow up its excellent resolutions and decisions condemning apartheid by constant world-wide exposure of the violations of these resolutions. The necessary machinery must be set up for this purpose, and I would like to offer the full support of the World Peace Council in any assistance it may be able to give for the setting up of this machinery. Public opinion must be roused, particularly in the countries whose governments and financial interests are continuing to aid the apartheid regime. The peoples of these countries must intensify their struggle against those who feed and keep alive the apartheid regime. Without the support and collaboration received from certain countries and interests, the racist rulers of South Africa could never continue their genocide against the people of South Africa. Without this support and collaboration Pretoria would not dare to commit the kind of aggression which it is committing against independent African States, an aggression which reached a high point with the latest military invasion of Zambia last month.
National organizations which are represented in and working with the World Peace Council in all the countries whose Governments are collaborating with Pretoria are conducting a relentless campaign to demand an end of their own Governments` criminal violations of United Nations decisions.
The World Peace Council is proud of its very close co-operation with the Organization of African Unity in the battle to end apartheid. Together with the Organization of African Unity and the World Council of Churches, the World Peace Council is today preparing an international conference against colonialism and racism, to be held in Oslo, Norway, next year. Together with the OAU, the World Peace Council has put forward a proposal for the preparation of a White Book on the collaboration, in the past and at present, with colonial and racist regimes. In all this extremely vital work we seek the support and cooperation of the United Nations.
The World Peace Council`s political positions in regard to apartheid correspond fully to those of the OAU as embodied in the resolution on apartheid adopted at the Eighth Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU, held at Addis Ababa last June. The World Peace Council is undertaking, in co-operation with the OAU, world-wide campaigns in accordance with that resolution:
- or the cessation of all military co-operation with South Africa;
- for boycott of South Africa in economic, cultural, sports and other fields;
- for the end of torture in South African prisons and the release of all political prisoners;
- to apply to freedom-fighters the relevant articles of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 on the treatment of prisoners of war and to ensure participation of liberation movements in the drafting and application of international humanitarian law applicable to so-called internal conflicts;
- for appropriate action against companies investing in South Africa; and
- for prohibiting immigration of persons, especially skilled workers, to South Africa.
The World Peace Council`s activities are directed, above all, to the building of active world solidarity with the peoples of South Africa which are fighting to liberate themselves from the chains of apartheid. During the last period the World Peace Council organized, together with the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization, the two most significant conferences supporting the liberation movements and in condemnation of racism and colonialism in Africa the first in Khartoum, in January 1969, and the second in Rome, in June 1970.
In conclusion, I should like to say that the two main directions of our work in support of the peoples` movements for liberation in South Africa, led by the African National Congress, are, first, increase of material and moral support for the African National Congress; and second, recognition of the liberation movement as the representative of the people of South Africa.
Source: United Nations document A/SPC/31/PV.12