Saturday, 7 January 2012

Document: when Amnesty International refused to support Nelson Mandela

There is already a post about Amnesty's hypocrisy to award Nelson Mandela in 2006 as an "ambassador of conscience", while AI never recognised him as "prisoner of conscience" and never asked for his release.
Here is an important document from the archives of Amnesty International, back in 1965, explaining why the NGO refused to support him.


The core of AMNESTY workers are developing a common and united approach to the many problems of great delicacy which face the movement. 1961 brought to a head the issue of whether or not support should be given to men like Nelson Mandela who, through pressure of events, found themselves constrained to recommend a degree of force in opposition to the South African Nationalist Government. This case was a particularly poignant one since Mandela, like his chief, Albert Luthuli, had previously been committed to the principles of non-violence. The opinion of the entire movement was canvassed on this issue during the summer of 1964; a synthesis of all the written views received was presented to the International Assembly at Canterbury in September. The degree of unanimity both of the letters and of the speeches was remarkable. While the greatest sympathy was expressed for those who find themselves deprived of every form of public protest, the movement recorded that it could not give the name of 'Prisoner of Conscience' to anyone associated with violence, even though as in 'convential warfare' a degree of restraint may be exercised. This was not to preclude espousing the cause of those who felt obliged to indulge in symbolic physical acts such as pulling down flags or even defacing posters, nor to exclude those who had tried to protect themselves when threatened by the indiscriminate use of firearms.

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