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Archive of the Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Nuclear-free Middle East

This archive is rich in detail concerning the development of a UK campaign to free the Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu.  It shows how political, media and celebrity networks were used by campaigners during the 1990s and is of interest not only for the study of nuclear issues but for social and cultural history.

Article in the Telegraph and Argus about the arrival of the archive.

The Campaign

Beginning as an ad hoc body, the CFV was apparently founded by Vanunu’s brother Meir, and supported by a small group of activists.  On 19 February 1991 a declaration of trust was made between The Right Livelihood Awards Foundation (RLAF) and Peter Benenson (founder of Amnesty International), Ken Coates (writer and MEP), Bruce Kent (former general secretary and chair of CND and president of the International Peace Bureau), Yael Lotan (writer and editor), Harold Pinter (writer), Andrew Wilski (a psychiatrist) and Carl Jakob Wolmar von Uexkull (a former member of the European Parliament for Germany and the RLAF’s founder). Benenson and the others constituted themselves as the Mordechai Vanunu Trust (MVT).

The RLAF donated a grant of £10,000 to the MVT, which during February 1992 the CFV used to rent office space from the Peace Pledge Union at 6 Endsleigh Street, London, and to fund further their activities.  From this period, the CFV built upon its earlier pro-Vanunu operations, including lobbying the UK and European parliaments and CND and and picketing the Israeli embassy. In March 1992 a 24-hour vigil outside the embassy featured musicians, actors and activists who sat in a wooden replica of Vanunu's cell.  A Free Vanunu Benefit at the Hackney Empire on 3 October 1993 was the first of twelve such benefits.

Active members of the CFV during the early 1990s included Ernest Rodker, Rami Heilbronn, Jenny Shubow, David Polden, Ossi Ron and Sabby Segal. The CFV published a newsletter: Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Nuclear Free Middle East and worked closely with The Sunday Times.  The CFV ceased operations some months following Vanunu’s release from prison on 21 April 2004, the final newsletter in the Archive being dated Autumn 2005.

The Archive

Donated by activist Ernest Rodker. Contents include campaign minutes, newsletters, press cuttings, press releases and legal papers.  There are many photographs and other visual material such as posters.  The archive is dominated by correspondence, in particular with the Israeli embassy, British MPs and MEPs, and Vanunu himself.  There are newsletters and correspondence concerning Sam Day, coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu.

For much more information about the Campaign and the Archive, see the collection description:

Collection description of the Archive of the Campaign to free Vanunu (pdf, 50KB)

Please note in particular that a) much of the Archive is restricted under the Data Protection Act and b) it is not yet fully catalogued.  Prospective users are advised to contact us well in advance of their visit to ensure we are able to help with these matters.