“What exactly are we celebrating on this day”, I wondered. I have a vague idea… well, I’m ashamed to say it’s very vague. If you were wondering too, I will save you the embarrassment of admitting that you have no idea and let you benefit by reading my research:
Human Rights Day is a day set aside for South Africans as a reminder of their human rights. Okay, I figured that much. So, what exactly are my human rights?
As a human being I am entitled to certain rights, it’s not something that I have to earn or that can be taken away when I’m naughty. Thank goodness! If this was the case I would probably not have any left. According to the internet the list of human rights protected is the Bill of Rights (chapter 2 of the constitution – the constitution is the highest law of South Africa). Everyone in South Africa (yes, including the government) have to follow this. The rules in the Bill of Rights are very hard to change – not even JayZee can change it! Each one of us has rights regardless of our age, race or gender – nice, isn’t it. We should respect each other’s rights.
A short history lesson
On 21 March 1960 the people decided to protest against the Pass Laws – this was a law that required everyone to carry a document (pass) with them at all times and if they didn’t they were arrested and sent away from the towns in which they lived in. They were gatvol of this and decided to protest by not carrying a pass, which will have them arrested and cause the jails to be full and by doing so cause the country not to function as it should. They hoped that this would get the Pass Laws scrapped. At Sharpville in Gauteng many gathered at the police station, demanding to get arrested, one thing lead to another and the police opened fire on the crowd. Around 67 people were killed and 180 injured. They were protesting against a law they felt was unfair and were demanding human rights.
Some rights included in our Bill of Rights:
- Human Dignity
- Freedom of Expression
- Assembly, demonstration, picket and petition
- Freedom of association
- Freedom of movement and residence
We celebrate this day to remind us how far we have come, that people suffered to have basic human rights and that we will never again be denied these human rights.
Now we both know!