[Foreword to a pamphlet, Five Months of Struggle: A Brief Account of the Passive Resistance Struggle from 13th of June to 13th of November 1946, published by the South African Passive Resistance Council in Durban and New York in November 1946]
The completion of five months of our historic struggle coincides with the release of our national leaders, Dr. G. M. Naicker and Mr. M. D. Naidoo after serving six months hard labour (with 45 days remission) - the longest sentence yet served by passive resisters in the present struggle.
This pamphlet attempts to give you an account of the epic story of our struggle against the Ghetto Act; the heroism and endurance of our resisters against the organised attacks of European hooligans; the heart-stirring courage of our sister-resisters; and some facts about the united support of the entire Indian community.
Five months in the struggle of a people for fundamental human rights is too brief a period in which to pass a verdict on it. A proper evaluation can only be made when it is reviewed in historical perspective. We leave that task to history. But in reviewing the events of the last five months we are in a position to judge whether or not we have reached the first objectives in our battle for full rights of citizenship.
The first few weeks were fateful. There were groups of people who were hesitant and uncertain. Scepticism prevailed in certain quarters. How will the struggle fare? How will the people react? - were questions uppermost in the minds of not uninfluential bodies of people. It was an acid test for the leadership. It demanded courage and endurance from the resisters.
To make matters worse, organised squads of European hooligans began attacking the camp of resisters. Tents were pulled down and burned. Resisters, both men and women, were brutally assaulted. Taunts, sneers and insults were hurled at them. The European hooligans did not show a trace of "civilisation" - they behaved like wild beasts pouncing on their prey. The resisters' patience and endurance were taxed to the utmost but they proved their quality as brave fighters for freedom - nonviolent and persevering, unafraid and manly. From night to night, the attacks grew more violent, the resisters becoming more determined. In this trying period of uncertainty, the heroism of the resisters and the undaunted leadership of men like Dr. Naicker and Mr. M. D. Naidoo shone like a beacon of hope.
The Government invoked the Riotous Assemblies Act, arrests were made, resisters were sent to prison and the struggle passed into a decisive phase.
The magnificent response of the people made it possible for us to record achievements of which the Indian people can well be proud.
Indian community united as never before
The struggle has rallied the entire community in total opposition to the Ghetto Act. There is a complete boycott of the Land Tenure Advisory Board. The sham form of communal representation has been wholly rejected. Hundreds of men and women of all ages have responded to the call of duty by enlisting as volunteers. A new spirit of freedom pervades the Indian people.
South Africa`s racial policy laid bare
General Smuts and the Union Government find themselves in the dock at the United Nations Assembly. The Union Government stands condemned in the eyes of the democratic people of the world for its fascist racial laws against the non-European population, and for the violation of the United Nations Charter. The United Nations Organisation itself is being confronted with an important test: whether it will justify its existence for the maintenance of world peace and assurance of basic human rights and freedom to all people irrespective of race, religion or sex, or whether by failing to stand up to this task it will let the world slip into international and race conflict.
We look forward to the outcome of the present discussion with confidence; the stern and determined stand taken by the Indian Government`s delegation, together with the wholehearted support of the Soviet Union, China and other member States, makes the situation very hopeful indeed.
We have succeeded in rallying international democratic opinion to our side in our just struggle. Whatever the outcome we shall continue to expose South Africa`s fascist policy to the outside world and pursue our struggle within the Union.
Towards the struggle of all non-European peoples
We are not unmindful of the fact that our passive resistance movement is a part and parcel of the larger struggle of all the non-European peoples against segregation and discrimination and for full democratic rights in the land of their birth and adoption. The African and Coloured peoples are supporting our movement in full measure and, indeed, not a few have already enlisted as passive resisters and have served terms in prison. We, for our part, have declared our full support to them in the recent great African miners` strike and in the campaign against the pass laws and other inhuman and racialist measures.
We hope for and expect a progressive unfurling of a great resistance movement on their part so that unity of action can be welded on the anvil of struggle.
White supremacy and herrenvolkism cannot and will not be able to withstand the torrent of simultaneous and united action.
India and trade sanctions
The Interin Government's(1) uncompromising stand and the united support of India`s leaders and national and political organisations of all shades of opinion and the stringent application of trade sanctions, have not only brought about a rupture in the trade relations between the two countries but have also hit hard the European farmers and consumers in this country. The acute shortage of grain bags, soap, essential oils, textiles and other commodities has caused a crisis of the first order.
This will, we hope, drive home to the European people the hard lesson that their rulers cannot carry on with impunity, and this with their consent, the policy of racial and colour oppression. The higher law of peoples` will and human conscience must in the end prevail.
Europeans and the struggle
Our struggle is forcing the Europeans in no uncertain manner to decide whether they are for or against democracy. Democracy cannot be maintained for the Europeans themselves whilst they deny it to others. Denial of democracy to one section leads surely and inevitably to fascism and all its attendant evils.
The setting up of bodies like the Council for Asiatic Rights in the Transvaal and the Council for Human Rights in Natal(2), the resolutions of the Church and progressive bodies, and the active participation and heroic sacrifice in the present struggle of such courageous European Christian stalwarts as the Reverend Michael Scott and the Reverend Satchell, and private citizens like Miss Mary Barr and Max Itzkin, are an indication of the fact that democratic-minded Europeans are beginning to realise the true implications of the fascist policy of their Government towards the non-European population.
We welcome Dr. Naicker and Mr. M. D. Naidoo
Thus it is with a sense of pride and self-vindication that we welcome back in our midst our national leaders. We say to them: "Your sacrifices and those of the hundreds of passive resisters have not been in vain. We have taken a step forward."
On their release, we reaffirm our pledge to continue the struggle with sober confidence and calm resolve.
We shall not bend our knee to the oppressor. We shall not rest as long as the Ghetto Act is on the Statute Book. We shall fight on until the rights of man are ours.
WE SHALL RESIST! LONG LIVE RESISTANCE!
1. The Interim Government of India headed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
2. The two Councils were set up by European friends of the Indian struggle.