VOL. 9: 23 JULY, 1908 - 4 AUGUST, 1909
3discovered in self- defence is the weapon of passive resistance, is theacceptance of a gaol life or whatever the Government may choose toimpose upon us for a breach of its laws which we cannot, as humanbeings, accept. The tele-grams that the British Indian Association andthe Hamidia Islamic Society have received are from Pretoria, Durban,Fortuna, Warmbaths, Volksrust, Ermelo, Potchefstroom, Zeerust,Klerksdorp, Standerton, Middelburg, Salisbury, Christiana,Rustenburg, Kimberley, Nylstroom, Roodepoort, Lichtenburg,Lydenburg, Vereeniging, Pietersburg, Ven-tersdorp, Heidelberg, CapeTown and Springs. I dare say there are more telegrams still lying atthe office. I shall venture to read a few of these telegrams. Thepurport of all is sympathy and support to the cause of the BritishIndians, and decision to close all business throug-hout these places.
[Mr. Gandhi then read the telegrams.]
These telegrams show that the Indians are absolutely unanimousin the Transvaal, and the incarceration of the Chairman shows also thatthere is absolutely no difference of opinion between Mahomedansand Hindus, that all the different races of India who are in SouthAfrica have met in a common cause and well have they met, seeingthat the difficulties that surround one portion of the community surr-ound all the other portions of that community. Gentlemen, our ownposition is absolutely clear. Our friends have advised us and told usthat we should wait, that we should not take strong measures, and thatwe should not take any step that might be irrevocable. I do not quiteunderstand the meaning of this advice. I do know this, that the ques-tion of the burning of the registration certificates should not be defi-nitely decided Until we know exactly the legislation that the Govern-ment intend to pass. That we have done. Beyond that it is impossiblefor the Indian community to go. The Government have put a barrierbetween those who have taken out voluntary registration certificatesand those who are now coming into the country, and who are entitledto come in. The Government ask them to submit to the law. It is im-possible for these men to do any such thing at all, especially whentheir rights have been safeguarded under the compromise. What arethese men to do? Are they not to trade until they have received theirregistration certificates? Are they to live upon the charity of theirfellow-countrymen? I think that it is utterly impossible. Then thesemen must honestly earn their livelihood, and the only advice that itwas possible for the British Indian Association to give these men wasto trade in spite of the refusal to issue licences on the part of the Lic-ensing Officer.
The hawkers and store-keepers whose licences ended
“Johannesburg Letter”, Before 2-7-1908.