Ancient & Modern
History of Theosophy in
Welsh Theosophists Protest Against
Internment of Annie Besant
Besant and many other Theosophists were fervent campaigners for Indian
MRS BESANT’S ACTIVITIES
Besant was recently ordered to go to Ootacamund but
the order was cancelled. The Governor, Lord Pentland,
today came to
In the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Rule 5 of the Defence of India (Consolidation) rules 1915, the Governor in Council has directed the service of Orders on Mrs Annie Besant, Mr G S Arundale and Mr B P Wadia, prohibiting them from attending or taking part in any meeting, from delivering any lecture, from making any speech and from publishing or procuring the publication of any writings or speech composed by them, placing their correspondence under censorship, & directing further, that after the expiry of a brief prescribed period they shall cease to reside in the City of Madras or district of Chingleput (a large town near Madras), and shall take up their residence and remain within any one of the following six areas; Nilgiri district, Coimbatore district, Bellary district, the Palni Hills, the Shevaroy Hills, and the municipal town of Vizagapatam.
Besant went into internment in Oocatamund in the Nilgiri district on June 21st. The orders
receiving this news the following communication was sent to a
Theosophical Society members in
THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY IN
NOTICE TO MEMBERS
I am requested by Mr Peter B W Freeman, Secretary of Group 3 of the Southern Federation, to invite all F.T.S. in Wales to a members’ meeting to be held at the above Address on Saturday next, July 7th at 3.0 p.m., for the purpose of discussing the recent action taken by the Governor of Madras against Mrs Besant, Mr G S Arundale and Mr Wadia, as reported by Reuters, in the Times, on Tuesday June 19th 1917, and to consider what action, if any, should be taken in the matter.
I shall be glad to receive expressions of views or instructions as to voting, from any members who are unable to be present at the meetings.
Although the original notification scheduled the meeting for , the meeting actually took place at with “about 20” members attending. Mrs S Maude Sharpe was in the chair. The following resolution was passed unanimously.
That this meeting of the Welsh members of the Theosophical Society in England and Wales most earnestly protest against the Orders of the Governor of Madras in Council made on the 16th June 1917, against Mrs Besant, Mr Arundale and Mr Wadia in so far as they constitute a bar to their taking part in non-political work, but particularly in the work of the Theosophical Society ; it declares that in preventing these persons, but particularly Mrs Besant, from speaking or writing in the future and even from re-publishing speeches and books composed and published in the past, those Orders deal a very serious blow against the operations of the Theosophical Society in the United Kingdom as well as in India : it maintains that consequently they constitute in fact, whatever may have been the intention of their authors, a very serious attack on religious and civil liberty : and it calls upon H.E. The Governor of Madras to cancel such Orders, and to default of his doing so on H.E. the Viceroy to disallow them without loss of time.
This resolution was forwarded to an impressive mailing list, recorded as follows
The Secretary was instructed to forward a copy of it (The Resolution) to the King, the Prime Minister, Mr Bonar Law, Lord Rhondda, Mr Snowden, Commander Wedgwood, Mr Redmond, Mr Asquith, Mr Chamberlain, all Welsh Members of Parliament, The Governor of Madras, and the Viceroy of India, - also to all local papers.
British Prime Minister – David Lloyd-George
protest was part of a campaign by Theosophists worldwide. There was also unrest
On October 20th the South Wales Group of The Southern Federation of the TS in England and Wales met for the first time and passed this further resolution approving of the Secretary of State’s action and forwarded it to “those concerned”
That this conference of the South Wales Group of the Southern Federation of the Theosophical Society in England and Wales, knowing the extent to which the internment of Mrs Besant interfered with her non-political activities, records its keen appreciation of the action of H.M Secretary of State for India in securing her unconditional release and desires to assure him of the active support of the members here assembled in any measures he may take for securing the right of free speech and a free Press for India and in regard to Indian affairs.
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