On Tuesday 8 December (at 18.30), as part of the Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, Gavin Brown will be giving a talk, at the Secular Hall, exploring what anti-apartheid campaigning in the 1980s can teach human rights defenders today.
For four years in the 1980s, anti-apartheid activists established a Non-Stop Picket outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square which called for Nelson Mandela’s release and expressed solidarity with those who opposed apartheid. The picket ran from 1986 until Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990.
Gavin Brown said: “People had been protesting outside the South African embassy since the 1960s; but in the mid-1980s, it became the focus of continuous anti-apartheid protests. As a permanent protest, the Non-Stop Picket drew in campaigners from all walks of life, and gave people the opportunity to fit their campaigning around their other commitments. The South Africans put enormous pressure on the British government to ban the protest. The Non-Stop Picket only survived because it was highly organised and its supporters were prepared to defy every attempt to curtail their protests. Some of the Picket’s successes were specific to the anti-apartheid cause and the location of South Africa House, but I believe there are many practical and political lessons from the Non-Stop Picket which are relevant for human rights campaigners today.”
As part of the event, there will also be a photo exhibition outlining the history of the picket. The display charts the history of the Non-Stop Picket and some of the key events that occurred there over the four years of its existence.
Gavin Brown is also due to appear on BBC Radio Leicester’s weekly programme for the African and Caribbean communities on Sunday 29 November to discuss his talk and promote the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival.