Professional Groups and the AAM

Posted by War On Want

Apartheid was omnipresent, its effects were felt in every aspect of the daily life of black South Africans. Although seemingly far removed from the oppression faced by peoples on the other side of the world, the impact of apartheid in Britain was, in fact, very close to home. The 1980s saw the emergence of professional groups campaigning to break the links between British organisations and their South African white only counterparts. Three groups in particular; lawyers, architects and healthworkers established groups and campaigns against apartheid in their professional areas.

Lawyers Against Apartheid (see featured photo) formed in 1986 and was made up of members of the legal community in Britain. The group aimed to mobilise the support of the legal community for the liberation struggles in South Africa and to campaign against the abuse of law by the apartheid regime. The group offered support to prisoners in political trials, campaigned against the death penalty and offered legal advice to anti-apartheid activists in Britain.

Architects Against Apartheid also worked to break ties between Britain and South Africa’s apartheid regime, campaigning for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to cut ties with the all-white architectural institutions in South Africa and to withdraw recognition from segregated architectural courses at South African universities.

The Anti-Apartheid Movement also established a Health Committee. The committee distributed a newsletter, Health and Liberation, which drew attention to the discrimination in healthcare under apartheid, the disparity in life expectancy between black and white citizens, and of the widespread problem of malnutrition for black children.

With support from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, they successfully campaigned for South Africa to be excluded from professional bodies such as the International Red Cross and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. In addition to this, The Health Committee’s Medical Aid Campaign for Southern Africa (MACSA) promoted material aid collections by local AA groups and other organisations and collected funds for the ANC hospital in Tanzania and health kits for SWAPO (see picture below).


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