South Africa will remember Human Rights Day on Monday 21 March 2022 under the theme “The Year of Unity and Renewal: Protecting and Preserving Our Human Rights Gains.
In this article, we revisit some important historical facts behind Human Rights Day and their meanings.
Human Rights Day is inspired by events that took place on the 21stst of March 1960 in Sharpeville. On that day, 69 people died and 180 were injured when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against Pass laws.
The day was an iconic date in South African history, and a reminder of the cost paid to us human rights.
The Pass Laws Act of 1952 required black South Africans over the age of 16 to carry a passport, also referred to as a ‘dompas’ everywhere and always.
South African History Online further states that Pass Laws were a system used to control the movement of Black, Indian and Colored people in South Africa.
The pass stated in which areas a person was allowed to move or in; and if a person was found outside these areas, they would be arrested.
Anti-pass laws campaign
Opposition to the Pass Law began to accelerate in 1960. The African National Congress (ANC) had declared that the year would be the “Year of the Pass”, with a national campaign launching on 31 March.
An absent group of the ANC, Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed an anti-Pass campaign to start on 21 March 1960.
On that day, black men gathered in Sharpeville without their passes and presented themselves for arrest. An order was issued to disperse, after which the Police opened fire on the crowd of men, women and children.
After the Sharpeville massacre, a number of black political movements were banned by the nationalist government, but the resistance movement continued to operate underground.
Other protests and killings on March 21
- Robert Sobukwe left his home in Mofolo, Soweto, and began walking to the Orlando Police Department, where he was joined by small groups on the way to people who came to him.
- In Pretoria, a small group of six people presented themselves at the Hercules police station.
- Small groups of PAC activists presented themselves at police stations in Durban and East London. However, the police just took down the names of the demonstrators and did not arrest anyone.
- When news of the Sharpeville Massacre reached Cape Town, a large group of protesters gathered at the Langa Flats bus terminal, in direct conflict with the government’s nationwide ban on public gatherings.
- The police ordered the crowd to disperse within 3 minutes. When protesters gathered again in defiance, police attacked them with batons, tear gas and rifles. Three people were killed, and 26 others sustained injuries
Announcement of holiday
When South Africa held its first democratic elections, March 21 – Human Rights Day – was officially declared a public holiday.
On this day, South Africans are asked to reflect on their rights, to protect their rights and the rights of all people against transgression, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, whether they are foreign or not – human rights apply to everyone, equal.
For the past two years, South Africa has practically celebrated Human Rights Day. This year, however, President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to open the Reagile Library in Koster, Northwest, for its keynote address on the day.
The celebration of Human Rights Day is being held in the province of Northwest.
More details in the report below:
LISTICLE: History of Human Rights Day in SA – SABC News
Source link LISTICLE: History of Human Rights Day in SA – SABC News