Ramaphosa to lead national commemoration of Human Rights Day

President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the national commemoration of Human Rights Day in De Aar, Northern Cape on Tuesday.

As part of of government’s rotation of national days that ensures that communities in all provinces are able to be part of such occasions, De Aar has been selected as this year’s site for the Human Rights Day commemoration.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Consolidating and Sustaining Human Rights Culture into the Future”.

The history of the day is rooted in the Sharpville massacre which took place on March 21 1960, where 69 anti-apartheid protestors were killed by police.

More than 200 other protesters suffered serious injuries and humiliation at the hands of apartheid police.

Sharpeville, a black township outside Vereeniging, bled, as did other black townships such as Langa in the Western Cape and Orlando East in Gauteng, among others, when the brutality of white oppression was unleashed.

The march in Sharpville was led by Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania leader Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, who urged his followers to burn their identity books, known then as dompas, as he did himself, to challenge the might of the apartheid system.

At the time, pass laws were reserved for black people, a clear discriminatory minority government policy that wrongly believed white people were superior.

Many black people paid with their lives in defence of their human dignity, committing to fight the apartheid government that deprived them of their humanity, imposing on them what the regime knew was at variance with human decency.

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