Following the news of Nelson Mandela’s death I’ve decided to write about the stance the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) took against apartheid in South Africa. From my previous blog posts you might be surprised that WILPF were involved in the anti – apartheid movement as until now I’ve focussed on their peace and disarmament achievements. However WILPF also campaigns for the freedom of those whose Human Rights are being abused or who are living in undemocratic countries – both of which applied to apartheid South Africa.
British members of WILPF were informed on the situation in South Africa through regular updates in the publication ‘Peace and Freedom’. The October – December 1963 edition reports that London WILPF members had been given an account of life in South Africa by Leon Levy, the exiled white President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions. The article contains the following passage revealing the tensions in South Africa and what Levy thought could be done to stop it:
“There was serious danger of a race war… since all methods of peaceful change were denied to Africans, and intervention by African states could not be ruled out… He believed that a rigorous boycott of South Africa and the imposition of sanctions could destroy the present regime”.