Word Echoes from SANZ: “HUMAN RIGHTS DAY / FIGHT RACISM”
Written by Helewise Arends on March 21, 2018
Human Rights Day in South Africa is historically linked with 21 March 1960 and the events of Sharpeville.
The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed an anti-Pass campaign to begin on March 21, 1960.
People of colour were to gather at Sharpeville without their reference books and present themselves for arrest.
The protest included women, men and children, 5000 strong, marching peacefully on Sharpeville police station.
The poor manned police station was not ready for the march of that day and
according to police reports were manned by trainees, which became the main cause
for the unforeseen vicious aftermath which ended in 180 people wounded
and death of 69 people, 31 women , and 19 children.
It was more than a protest against the Pass Laws of the Apartheid regime –
it was an affirmation by common people , rising in unison to proclaim
their rights, and it became an iconic date in South Africa’s troubled history.
In 1994 when Nelson Mandela became the country’s leader, March 21 was included
in the list of national holidays of democratic South Africa.
On Human Rights Day, South Africans are asked to reflect on their rights
and how to protect themselves against violations.
It enshrines the rights of all people and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
In terms of the Bill of Rights all persons have the right to citizenship and security.
Persons and groups are entitled to freedom of assembly; association;
belief and opinion; and expression.
They have the right to demonstrate, picket and petition; everyone has the right
to be free of forced labour, servitude and slavery.
South Africa commemorates Human Rights in March 2018 under the theme:
“The Year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Promoting and Deepening a Human Rights Culture across society.”
The Theme is in line with the celebration of the centenary of former president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
The centenary will be held under the theme “Be the Legacy” –
to honour Madiba’s memory by striving to ensure his vision of human rights
and dignity for all South Africans is realized.
Mandela advocated for human rights for all and believed that to deny
“people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
It is also the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Join the world in upholding zero tolerance of racial discrimination –
and support March 21 – the International Day to #FIGHTRACISM