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U.S. Ties S. Africa Policy to Violence : 350 Believed Held as Arrests of Leaders Go On

July 23, 1985|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Police continued their arrests of black community leaders and anti-apartheid activists Monday, reportedly detaining more than 200 under the state-of-emergency regulations that South Africa adopted over the weekend to quell nearly a year of sustained civil unrest.

Among those reported arrested were national and regional leaders of the United Democratic Front, a broad, multiracial coalition of groups opposed to South Africa's policy of apartheid.

Also held were labor union officials, civil rights lawyers, teachers, clergymen, community organizers and youth leaders from the Johannesburg area, the Vaal River region south of here and from the eastern region of Cape province.

Authorities Are Vague

Although police refused late Monday to disclose either the number arrested or their names, the total now held under the emergency regulations, which permit indefinite detention without trial, is believed to be at least 350--and includes many of the most influential national and local leaders of the anti-apartheid movement.

The Detainees' Parents Support Committee, which monitors security detentions, estimated that more than 100 people were arrested in the Johannesburg area Monday and nearly as many in the industrial center of Port Elizabeth-Uitenhage in the turbulent eastern Cape. Church groups said about 40 people were detained in the Vaal region. On Sunday, police reported 113 arrests.

The emergency measures, which suspend most civil liberties and put the affected regions under virtual martial law, were strongly criticized again Monday by religious leaders and by the white-minority government's liberal opposition.

Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel peace laureate, said the National Party leadership has responded to the unrest with "an iron fist," rather than by making effort to resolve the country's fundamental problems.

"The government is mistaken if it believes that true security and peace can come from the end of a gun barrel," Tutu said. "The unrest in our land will continue to be endemic, and the violence which all of us deplore will occur until the cause is removed, and the cause is apartheid--a vicious, immoral and evil policy."

He offered again to help initiate talks among "the authentic representatives and leaders of every section of our society" to work out a peaceful resolution of the country's problems.

However, President Pieter W. Botha, rejecting a call from the liberal white opposition Progressive Federal Party that Parliament be reconvened to discuss the state of emergency and the underlying causes of the unrest, declared that after a year of violence, the time had come for action, "not further debates."

"It is and it remains the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of its people," he said. "My government will not shirk this responsibility."

Most of Monday's arrests came in pre-dawn raids, and the detentions are expected to continue through the week as police continue what a senior officer called "a thorough cleansing of all the radicals and revolutionaries . . . responsible for the unrest of the past year."

Those arrested in Port Elizabeth included the top regional officials of the United Democratic Front and of the Azanian People's Organization, a black consciousness group; leaders of the auto workers union there; black Anglican and Methodist clergymen; the president of the Interdenominational African Ministers Assn. of South Africa, and the president of the Port Elizabeth Women's Assn.

In Johannesburg, leaders of the United Democratic Front, the Congress of South African Students, the Transvaal Indian Congress and the End Conscription Campaign were reported to be among those detained. In the Vaal River region, 50 miles south of here, 10 clergymen were said to have been seized, along with staff members of the South African Council of Churches.

Civil Liberties Issue

Under the emergency rules, the names of those detained may not be published until written permission is given by the police--a provision that has been sharply criticized by civil rights lawyers here as compounding what they believe is already an arbitrary deprivation of freedom.

Official sources said Monday that police, supported by combat troops, are preparing in the next phase of the emergency operation to seal off a number of black townships in eastern Cape province, the focus of much of the unrest over the last six months. This is reportedly intended as a prelude to the arrests of a large number of youths regarded as "troublemakers and ringleaders" and to the use of house-to-house weapons searches.

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