Do you even know what Human Rights Day means?

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No seriously you should know this though. Every South African should. Not really you say? Was History period at school your nap time and you haven’t seen any documentaries on the topic? Mmmm…well lucky for you I paid attention in History class and actually passed it on higher grade *cough cough* And seeing as though this important day is almost upon as I thought I’d just do a small educational blurb. Also I want you to know things about our country man, I know it’s a little effed up at times but you have to admit, we’ve come along way and that, if not anything else, should be celebrated.

But first let us take a moment to mourn the fact that this day ended up on a Saturday…and here I thought “lekker public holiday” the universe had other plans though…

Anyway on to the topic at hand, where did Human Rights Day start exactly? Ok so long ago, during the apartheid era non whites had to walk around with an I.D like booklet called a pass…like all the time. If you didn’t have it on you, police would either beat the living shit out of you, or lock you up, or do both. So on the 21st March 1960, the PAC party decided to start an anti pass campaign because why must they walk around with this thing all day?

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They gathered at Sharpville without their passes and police opened fire on them after they refused to leave. So many people died that day and many more injured. Black political parties were banned after that and the movement went underground.

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After Nelson Mandela came into power in 1994, the 21st of March was made a holiday to remind us of the horrific day when people died fighting for justice against the apartheid regime. Of course us as “born-free” individuals will never really know the struggle and the pain of that time. My parents were activists at the time so they made sure I was well informed about what happened back then and how many people lost their lives so that we could be free today.

So what are your rights? The basic right of course is that everyone has a right to life, equality and human dignity. Below are the others:

1. All persons have a right to citizenship and security. Persons and groups are entitled to freedom of assembly, association, belief and opinion, and expression. They have the right to demonstrate, picket and petition; everyone has the right to be free of forced labour, servitude and slavery.

2. All persons have a right to privacy and to exercise political rights; all have a right to access to information and just administration action. They have rights when arrested, detained and accused, and must have access to courts. Protected rights include a healthy environment; housing, health care, food, water and social security.

3. We all have a right to freedom of movement and residence and of trade, occupation and profession. In the workplace everyone has a right to engage in trade unions and labour movements. Anyone has the right to purchase property anywhere, and to a basic education. They have a right to language and culture and communities; and not least, freedom of religion and belief. The Bill of Rights also specifies the rights of persons belonging to cultural, religious or linguistic communities and the rights of children. In addition, there are specific laws to safeguard women and protect children.

So there you go, a little piece of History on Human Rights Day. I could tell you so much more but then I’m afraid you’ll stop reading…and then won’t read anything else that I post…and I really don’t want you doing that…please.

Amazing weekend to all of you!

Reference: http://www.parliament.gov.za/live/content.php?Item_ID=1481

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