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South Africa

November 27, 1988

I am left unspeakably angry and horrified upon learning of the convictions in South Africa of four leaders of the United Democratic Front on charges of treason (Part I, Nov. 19).

Only a government which grants no civil rights to a majority of its people under its constitution could consider nonviolent protests against that constitution to be treason. The logic by which peaceful protest becomes treason is the logic of terrorism.

The South African government is emboldened to commit ever more arrogant attacks against the human rights of its black majority by the reluctance of the United States to treat South Africa as the terrorist state that it is. A government which has no moral or legal basis for claiming the allegiance of a majority of its people, but rules only through the threat and application of coercive physical force, has no claim to be called anything but a terrorist state.

The United States must take a position now either for or against the continued existence of the South African government and its system of apartheid. There is no middle ground. Actions by the South African government, such as its decisions that thought and expression are treasonable offenses, have left the civilized world no middle ground.

GERALD M. SATO

Los Angeles

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