Festival turns spotlight on what the anti-apartheid picket can teach human rights defenders

Posted by ap507 at Dec 04, 2015 04:07 PM |
Dr Gavin Brown to give talk on Tuesday 8 December

On Tuesday, 8 December at 6.30pm, Dr Gavin Brown, a senior lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Leicester, will be giving a talk, as part of the Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, at the Secular Hall on Humberstone Gate in Leicester, 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.

Dr 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 Dr Brown's presentation, there will also be a photo exhibition outlining the history of the picket. The exhibition will chart the history of the Non-Stop Picket and some of the key events that occurred there over the four years of its existence.

Festival organiser, Ambrose Musiyiwa said: “Apartheid in South Africa institutionalised racial discrimination. How anti-apartheid activists responded to that injustice and brought about change is a fitting contribution to the festival because of what they can teach human rights defenders in Leicester and abroad.”

"The Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival runs from 4 December through to 10 December." 

It aims to draw attention to International Human Rights Day which is celebrated annually, across the world, on December 10; and to give people in Leicester a platform through which to engage with human rights issues at home and abroad through film, music and The Arts.

The festival will also be fundraising for groups and charities that provide support to men, women and children who have fled conflict and persecution and are looking for refuge.


1. For more information, on What the anti-apartheid picket can teach human rights defenders, see https://www.facebook.com/events/419969951529449/

2. To contact Dr Gavin Brown email <gpb10@le.ac.uk> or telephone 0116 252 3858.

3. Admission, attendance or entry to the presentation is free.

4. Event organisers suggest attendees donate £3 at the door which donations will go to a group or charity that's supporting people who are looking for refuge.

5. For more information on the Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, contact Ambrose Musiyiwa at email address <amusiyiwa@googlemail.com> or telephone 07814 368606.

6. For a copy of the draft programme for the 2015 Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, see the festival’s Facebook page <https://www.facebook.com/HRAFFL/posts/886552304768738> or blog <https://hraffl.wordpress.com>.

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