ES Reddy, an India-born acolyte of Gandhi who led the United Nations in efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, died on Sunday in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was 96 years old.
His death was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who welcomed Mr. Reddy’s “commitment to human rights” and his epitome of “social solidarity”.
From 1963 to 1984, Mr. Reddy oversaw the United Nations’ anti-apartheid efforts, first as chief secretary of the Special Committee against Apartheid and then as director of the Center Against Apartheid.
He campaigned for boycotts and other economic sanctions against the white South African government, which separated and oppressed the blacks and subordinated the large population of the country with Indian immigrants.
He also worked tirelessly for the release of Nelson Mandela, the imprisoned anti-apartheid leader who was finally freed in 1990 and elected South Africa’s first black head of state four years later.
“There is no one at the United Nations who has done more to expose the injustices of apartheid and the illegality of the South African regime than he has,” said Sean MacBride, former UN Commissioner for Namibia and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mr. Reddy in 1985.
In a 2004 interview for the book No Easy Victories (2007), influenced by Gandhi’s strategy of non-violent resistance against India’s British colonial rulers, Mr. Reddy explained how his interest in South Africa emerged:
“I was interested in the anti-apartheid movement as early as the 1940s, when the struggle in South Africa took on new forms and Indians and Africans joined the struggle. During World War II, the United States and Great Britain spoke about four freedoms in the Atlantic Charter, but those freedoms did not apply to India or South Africa. “
The huge pool of Indian contract workers who immigrated to South Africa in the late 19th century found common ground there with the black citizens, another oppressed minority. India was among the first to join an international movement to isolate South Africa through commercial and cultural boycotts and exert economic pressure by pressuring companies, universities, foundations and pension funds worldwide to divest holdings in South African companies .
Mr. Reddy accepted the effort.
“He had to face many obstacles and contradictions, most of which came from the Western powers,” said MacBride, “but he had the ability, the courage and the determination to overcome the systematic open and covert resistance to the liberation of the people of the south . ” Africa.”
Enuga Sreenivasulu Reddy was born on July 1, 1925 in Pallapatti, a village in southern India, about 90 miles north of Madras. His father, EV Narasa Reddy, ran a mining company that exported mica. His mother was a housewife.
His father was jailed for participating in Gandhi’s protest campaigns, and his mother sold her jewelry to raise money for Gandhi’s efforts on behalf of India’s lowest caste, the so-called Untouchables. Enuga himself went on strike as a schoolboy.
After graduating from the University of Madras in 1943, he intended to do a chemical engineering degree in Illinois, but the shortage of ships immediately after World War II delayed his arrival in the United States until mid-semester.
When he finally got to New York, he decided to stay in town and from there to keep himself better informed of what was happening in India. After forgetting much of the mathematics he had learned as an engineering student, he switched to political science and received his master’s degree in this subject from New York University in 1948. He continued his studies at Columbia University.
He married Nilufer Mizanoglu, a translator of the poet Nazim Hikmet. She survived him with her daughters Mina Reddy and Leyla Tegmo-Reddy; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
After a two-month internship at the UN, Mr. Reddy was hired by the then still young United Nations in 1949 to do research as a political officer.
In the late 1940s he became active on the Council on African Affairs, a group led by Paul Robeson and WEB Du Bois. It was initially progressively supported by the mainstream but faded after the government declared it a subversive organization in 1953 because some of its leaders had communist ties.
By then, India had gained its freedom from the British, for a moment, Reddy said, that should have been the beginning of the end of colonialism.
“I felt that I didn’t do enough,” he said in the 2004 interview. “I haven’t made enough sacrifices for India’s freedom, so I should make up for it by doing what I do for the rest of the colonies can. ” When he joined the UN, he added: “That was the feeling in the back of my mind.”
After retiring in 1985 and holding the title of Assistant Secretary General, Mr. Reddy wrote stories about black liberation and anti-apartheid movements and the ties between India and South Africa.
In 1982 he was awarded the Joliot Curie Medal of the World Peace Council. In 2013 he received the Order of Companions of OR Tambo from the South African government, an honor named after the former President of the African National Congress in exile.
When Mr. Reddy celebrated his 96th birthday last July, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, a South African organization against racism and corruption, congratulated him on his lifelong “tireless commitment to the liberation movement” and “an unshakable connection between the south” Africa and his homeland India. “