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The Freedom Charter Called for Equality in South Africa

The Freedom Charter was a document ratified at the Congress of the People, held at Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa, in June 1955, by the various member bodies of the Congress Alliance. The policies set out in the Charter included a demand for a multi-racial, democratically elected government, equal opportunities, the nationalization of banks, mines, and heavy industries, and a redistribution of land.

Africanist members of the ANC rejected the Freedom Charter and broke away to form the Pan Africanist Congress.

In 1956, following extensive searches of various homes and confiscation of documents, 156 people involved in the creation and ratification of the Freedom Charter were arrested for treason. This was almost the entire executive of the African National Congress (ANC), Congress of Democrats, South African Indian Congress, Coloured People"s Congress, and the South African Congress of Trade Unions (collectively known as the Congress Alliance). They were charged with "high treason and a countrywide conspiracy to use violence to overthrow the present government and replace it with a communist state." The punishment for high treason was death.

Kliptown June 26, 1955 "We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people"

Here is a synopsis of each of the clauses, which list various rights and stances in detail.

There Shall be Work and Security: Equal pay for equal work for all races and genders. Rights to form unions. Workplace rules adopted including a 40-hour work week, unemployment benefits, minimum wage, leave. Elimination of child labor and other abusive forms of labor.

At the treason trial in August, 1958, the prosecution attempted to show that the Freedom Charter was a Communist tract and that the only way it could be achieved was by overthrowing the present government. However, the Crown"s expert witness on Communism

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