Human Rights Day is a national public holiday celebrated in South Africa every year on the 21st of March. This day is a commemoration of the Sharpeville massacre that occurred in 1960, which was a turning point in the struggle against apartheid. It is commemorated to recognise the importance of human rights and to celebrate the achievements made in advancing human rights in South Africa.
The history of Human Rights Day in South Africa can be traced back to the 21st of March 1960, when police opened fire on a peaceful protest in Sharpeville, killing 69 people and injuring 180 others. The protest was against the pass laws, which required black people to carry identity documents at all times, and it marked a turning point in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Following the Sharpeville Massacre, the South African government declared a state of emergency, and many anti-apartheid activists were arrested and detained without trial
In 1994, after the end of apartheid, the South African government declared the 21st of March as Human Rights Day in remembrance of the Sharpeville Massacre and to celebrate the country’s progress in promoting and protecting human rights.
Human Rights Day in South Africa serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought against apartheid and the importance of protecting and promoting human rights for all people. It is a day to reflect on the progress made in advancing human rights in South Africa and to identify areas where more work needs to be done.
On Human Rights Day, various activities are held across South Africa to commemorate the day. These activities include speeches by government officials, human rights activists, and civil society organizations, as well as cultural events and exhibitions. The theme for Human Rights Day is usually chosen to reflect the current state of human rights in South Africa.
Human Rights Day in South Africa is an important day that commemorates the sacrifices made by those who fought against apartheid and celebrates the progress made in advancing human rights in the country. It serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting and promoting human rights for all people and encourages continued efforts to create a society that is just, equitable, and inclusive.