March 21 will always hold a special place in South Africa’s history books. It is a day which signifies the importance of equal rights.
It is a day which symbolises why we as a country need to ensure everyone’s basic human rights are met. Today, March 21, is Human Rights Day.
But where does Human Rights Day stem from?
In South Africa, the day is linked to the tragic events of Sharpeville on March 21, 1960. On the day, thousands of people gathered and marched to the police station in Sharpeville in protest against the Pass Laws.
The police opened fire and there were a staggering 249 casualties. A total of 69 people killed and 180 injured. Among the injured and dead were children. Innocent lives lost in the quest for equal rights.
With the establishment of the New South Africa, we look back at the day. The day shows the importance of ordinary people standing together, rising as one to fight for their rights. It is a day where we remember the loss of the lives of those who fought for our rights. As well as the fact violence is not the answer.
This year’s theme for the day is The Year of Indigenous Languages: Promoting a Human Rights Culture.
But what are human rights?
Human rights are rights everyone must have, simply because they are human. In 1948, the United Nations defined 30 articles of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It established universal rights on the basis of humanity, freedom, justice and peace.
As we enjoy the public holiday today in South Africa, what does the day mean to you? What makes it so important for you as an individual? Do you think we can do more to improve human rights in South Africa?
Share your views with us in the comment section below.