Human Rights Day

21 March is known as Human Rights Day in South Africa

This day observes basic human rights entitled to all citizens living in the country since the birth of the countries democracy.  These rights include:

  • Equality – everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
  • Human dignity – everyone has inherent dignity and have their dignity respected and protected.
  • Freedom of movement and residence – everyone has a right to freedom of movement and to reside anywhere in the country.
  • Language and culture – everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice.
  • Life - everyone has the right to life.

The day serves to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa. On 21 March 1960, the community of Sharpeville and Langa townships embarked on a protest march against pass laws.

The police shot and killed 69 protesters at Sharpeville, many of them shot while fleeing. A lot more people were killed in other parts of the country. The tragedy has since been known as the Sharpeville Massacre and it exposed the apartheid government’s deliberate violation of human rights to the world.

The democratic government declared March 21 Human Rights Day in commemoration of and to honour those that fought for our liberation and the rights we enjoy today. Our Constitution is hailed as one of the most progressive in the world.

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