The National Human Rights Day is commemorated on 21 March each year to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre on this day in 1960. But this year there will be no event to commemorate the day.
The history of Human Rights Day is grounded in the Sharpeville Massacre that took place on 21 March 1960, where the apartheid police shot and killed 69 people in a peaceful protest march. #HumanRightsMonth#HumanRightsDay pic.twitter.com/aaugUe6LnN
— The DoJ & CD (@DOJCD_ZA) March 20, 2020
The Congress of the People (COPE) says that it would not have celebrated Human Rights Day even if there was no COVID-19 pandemic. All mass rallies scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled due to the ban on gatherings of groups greater than a 100 people.
“Thousands of people are sitting without water toilets, proper streets, unemployment, not having food to eat, going to bed on a hungry stomach. Our healthcare facilities have collapsed. How can we celebrate this day when corruption is the order of the day in South Africa,” says COPE Spokesperson, Dennis Bloem.
SABC News reporter, Nhlanhla Kgatlane, reports that Human Rights Day has been cancelled as big public gatherings are cancelled in line with the state of national disaster declared on Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic:
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen says although Human Rights Day won’t be celebrated publicly tomorrow, it offers South Africans the opportunity to reflect on their rights to be protected in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What it’s going to require on this Human Rights Day is the best of all South Africans to come together. Protecting and defending those rights is going to be difficult. They are going to have to be curtailed in the face of this virus if we are going to contain it and so, while some of the measures that the government is putting in place may seem draconian when one looks at the experience of other countries in combatting it, they are absolutely necessary.”