South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is to open the commemoration of Human Rights Day in Vereeniging, Gauteng, on Thursday.
The 25th national event will be held at the George Thabe sports ground in Sharpeville. The theme of the addressing speech is “The Year of Indigenous Languages: Promoting and Deepening a Human Rights Culture.”
As stated by the presidency, the origins of Human Rights Day lie in the events of March 21, 1960 that unfolded at Sharpeville and Langa in the Western Cape. On that very day two peaceful marches, that opposed pass laws imposed on black South Africans, were radically suppressed by apartheid security forces.
A total of 69 people were killed and more than 100 others wounded at the Sharpeville police station. Later that day, in Langa, police used batons and teargas against the gathered protesters, injuring several men and killing three.
The incident has become known as Sharpeville Massacre. It provoked the armed resistance in South Africa and led to worldwide condemnation of South Africa’s apartheid policies.
Nowadays, Human Rights Month is used to foster social cohesion, nation-building, national identity, socio-economic development and fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and all such intolerances.
The objective of Human Rights Day 2019 is to concentrate efforts to preserve endangered languages, promote and revitalize them, to affirm that South Africa is committed to human rights for all, and to underline that the Bill of Rights encourages linguistic diversity and calls for respect for all language rights.