HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
When is Human Rights Day in 2024?
Human Rights Day in 2024 is on the Thursday, 21st of Mar (3/21/2024).
Human Rights Day is on the 81nd day of 2024. There are 285 days left in the year.
Human Rights Day Facts
- Date: Mar 21, 2024
- Also Called:
- Celebrations: Celebrations; memorial ceremonies, movies, traveling
For the rest of the world, Human Rights Day is marked on 10th December. However, South Africa celebrates this day on 21st March every year. Human Rights Day is a public holiday and hence a day off to all South Africans. In 1994 after the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela, the national government declared the day a public holiday. The holiday is a reminder of the tragic Sharpeville massacre on a similar date in 1960.
History of Human Rights Day
The Human Rights Day in South Africa has its origins in a tragedy by a political party that was fighting apartheid.
In South Africa, it was a rule for all men above the age of 16 to carry their passes ‘dompas’ and produce them when demanded by the police. Failure to produce the pass, forgetting it or the pass not having the right stamp, meant a jail term. South Africans were not happy with this law, and rebel protests kicked off.
On March 21, 1990, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) led by Robert Mangaliso called for peaceful anti-pass protests. He appealed to people to leave their passbooks at home and go to the nearest police station and protest against the humiliating law of carrying passes. There were marches across the country as the protesters made their concerns known.
In the town of Sharpeville, a group of 5000-20000 men gathered outside the police station without their passes.
The police officers panicked, and they opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators. This led to the death of almost 70 people while 180 more were wounded. The police then tried to disperse the crowds with tear gas and batons, a move that left 289 casualties among them, young children.
Later the government banned the two political parties; PAC and ANC. The parties decided to fight back the government through the military groups. The ANC founded Umkhonto we Sizwe while the PAC formed the Azanian People’s Liberation Army. In 1996, the pass laws were eventually appealed.
As an honor to those who lost their lives during the Sharpeville Massacre, South Africans observe March 21st as a day to respect human rights.
Following the proceedings in 1960, the UN also declared 21st March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
How to Celebrate Human Rights Day
Celebrate Human Rights Day by visiting a memorial site. The people who died during the massacre were buried in three places; the memorial garden, the Sharpeville police station where the masses gathered for protests and the Phelindapa Cemetery. Be sure to put flowers on the graves as a sign of respect for those who fought hard for the freedom we enjoy today.
Another good idea is to visit someone who has firsthand experience of what went down on that fateful day. Listening to the stories from someone who experienced the agony in person is definitely fulfilling.
You can also watch a documentary that portrays the devastation of the massacre. The documentary will help you in gaining a better insight into how strict the apartheid regime was.
You can also visit a museum and get to view the conditions black people were forced to live in their own land. Some of the museums in Capetown, Johannesburg, and Durbin also have live performances that show the lives of South Africans during the apartheid era.
Remember to share your thoughts on Human Rights on social media by using the hashtag #HumanRightsDay.
Why Celebrate Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day in South Africa has a dark history. However, through its observation, it becomes an affirmation by ordinary people to proclaim their rights. Its iconic date reminds all the people of South Africa of their rights and the cost that was paid to get the treasured gift, human rights.
On this day, the South African Parliament’s role is to empower its citizens so that they can clearly understand democratic and human rights entitled to them.