A member of the Dutch parliament was arrested outside the South African Embassy yesterday, as part of an effort to to expand the five-month-old antiapartheid demonstrations here to other countries.
Jan Nico Scholten, the first foreigner to be arrested at the embassy since the demonstrations began there Nov. 21, said he hoped to "experience firsthand the strategy used by the Free South Africa Movement" to expand those tactics to Western Europe.
"Many Europeans don't know about the efforts here in the United States, and it is my duty to inform them of the progress and strategy used," said Scholten, who is president of the Association of West European Parliamentarians for Action against Apartheid (AWEPAA). He said the goal is to expand the actions to 22 democratic Western European countries that are members of the association.
A member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and four members of the Washington, D.C., alumni chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority were arrested at the embassy along with Scholten.
The demonstrations, organized by the Free South Africa Movement, seek to secure the release of South African political prisoners, start discussions on a new constitution that would allow blacks to share power in that nation and end the Reagan adminstration's policy of "constructive engagement" with the Pretoria government.
"Today the Free South African Movement goes international," said Del. Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.), who was among about 100 demonstrators at the Massachusetts Avenue embassy yesterday. "The tramp, tramp, tramp of our feet has been heard by people across the nation in Europe."
"Watch Out! the president of AWEPAA is here to join us in our mission," Fauntroy said, "and when he takes his message back to Europe, we will have many other nations at our side."
Scholten said that when Congress passes several pending bills designed to impose sanctions against South Africa he will "ask the President to contact other nations to urge that they pass similar sanctions in their countries." Both Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Fauntroy have been invited to Europe to discuss the development of those bills in Congress.
Scholten, who heads the Dutch parliament's foreign affairs committee, was charged with demonstrating within 500 feet of the embassy, a misdemeanor. He declined to post bail, saying he would rather spend the night in jail.
"I know it's just a symbol, but to the people in Europe it will carry an important message," he said, "and I think more people will become involved."