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Over 100 people rallied in front of Polaroid's main office building in Tech Square yesterday and demanded that the Cambridge-based corporation immediately terminate its activities in South Africa.
Speakers at the rally, held to commemorate the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, continued to level their charge that Polaroid's ID-2 identification system is instrumental in the maintenance of apartheid and that continued American investment in South Africa is the "lynchpin" which keeps the racist white minority in power.
Chris Nteta, a black South African, noted that the United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid met earlier this month to discuss the firing of Polarold employees who had organized a boycott of Polaroid products to protest the company's continuing involvement in South Africa.
The U. N. Committee concluded that "It was a paradox that those... who supported apartheid tried to mislead world opinion by claiming that economic and financial developments would in the long run end apartheid, whilethey used financial and economic pressure to destroy opposition to it."
Edgar Bottome, an assistant professor of political science at Boston University, charged that the pass laws imposed on black South Africans by the racist Praetoria regime are a form of terror used to intimidate and control the black population.
The passbook is a 20-page book which every black South African must carry on his person at all times, and which must be surrendered to any white policeman on demand. The book must be signed by the bearer's employer every month, and kept up to date with tax payments, residence permits, and personal information. Polaroid equipment, distributed in South Africa by Frank and Hirsch Limited was responsible for 20 per cent of all pictures taken for passbooks in 1970, according to Polaroid statistics.
Towards the close of the rally, Caroline Hunter, a member of the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement who was fired by Polaroid for organizing a boycott of Polaroid products, issued a "People's Warrant" against Edwin H. Land, president and chairman of the board of Polaroid, for "Mass Murder." Hunter then set fire to four Polaroid cameras to dramatize the protest.
The Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement has issued three demands of Polaroid. The first is that Polaroid announce a policy of complete disengagement from South Africa. Second, that Polaroid publicly announce its position on apartheid, both in the U. S. and South Africa. Third, that Polaroid contribute the profits it has earned in South Africa to recognized African liberation movements.
This Is the Year
The rally was sponsored by the National Movement Against Apartheid, the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement, and the African Research Group. March 22 was designated by the United Nations as "International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination," and 1971 as the "international year for action to combat racism and racial discrimination."
There will be a teach-in Wednesday at 8 p. m. in the Sala de Puerto Rico, M. I. T. Student Center, to discuss Polaroid's involvement in South Africa.
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