“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed – Steve Biko”
September 12th, 1977, a man died in South Africa, he was tortured to death by the political police in his cell in Port Elisabeth, he was then transported, in a half conscious state, in the back of a Land-Rover for more than 1200Km, to a prison in Pretoria, where he was declared dead in his cell.
Bantu Steven Biko, Known as Steve Biko, was born on December 18th 1946 in Ginsberg, South Africa.
He was first involved as a member of the National Union of South African Students which was dominated by white students and failed to fight for black students’ rights and needs, he resigned and founded the South African Students’ Organization in 1969 and its main goal was to provide medical assistance and logistic help to black students.
In 1972 he was one of the founders of the Black Peoples’ Convention that gathered more than 70 black consciousness groups and associations, he was elected as the first president of the BPC which led to his exclusion from the medical school, in 1973 he was banned by the apartheid government and he was restricted to his home town.
He could not continue supporting the BPC but continued working for it, he helped found the Zimele Trust Fund which aimed to assist political prisoners and their families.
In January 1977, he was elected the honorary president of the BPC.
He was detained and interrogated several times between 1975 and 1977 under the anti-terrorism legislation set up by the apartheid government.
On august 21st 1977, Biko was detained at the Port Elisabeth prison and taken for interrogation at the central police headquarters. On September 7th, he was severely injured in his head and the doctor who examined him omitted to mention a neurological injury, Biko became uncooperative and acted strangely.
By September 11th, Biko slept into a semi-conscious state which led police physician to order his transfer to a Pretoria’s hospital, he made the 1200Km journey lying naked on the back of a pick-up, few hours later he was declared dead lying in a Pretoria’s prison’s cell.
It’s only twenty years later that the police admitted that they had killed Biko, it was made to the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”.
Biko’s death and especially it’s brutal and obscure circumstances led to an international outcry and condemnation, and Biko became the symbol of black resistance and fight against the oppressive Apartheid regime.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”