What happened on March 21, 2016 in Sharpeville, South Africa?
The African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), which fought against the Apartheid regime, decided to protest against the pass law in March 1960. Apartheid regime is an official policy of racial segregation implemented by the ruling National Party of South Africa and the Republic of South Africa from 1948 to 1994.
In the early morning of March 21, between 5,000 and 10,000 black people came to the Sharpeville police station and asked the police to arrest themselves for not having their passbooks.
At the beginning, everything was peaceful. There were not many police officers present at the protest. Later on however, the mass of protesters grew bigger (around 20,000 people). Police got substantial additional forces as well. They tried to disperse this demonstration with tear gas and police batons. Stones flew into the police. According to police reports of these events, one of their young and inexperienced officers panicked and opened the fire. This set a chain reaction, and his colleagues joined the firing.
Official death and injury toll is following: 69 people, including 8 women and 10 children, were killed, 180 were injured (31 women and 19 children among them). The police continued shooting even after people had turned their backs to flee. It all happened within 40 seconds, in which the police fired 705 shots.
In remembrance of Sharpeville massacre
The shooting of unarmed demonstrators has caused indignation around the whole world. On April 1, 1960, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 134 condemning the policy of Union of South Africa.
Since 1994, March 21 has been declared Human Rights Day in South Africa.
As a reaction to these brutal events, in 1966 The General Assembly of the United Nations declared March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
European Action Week Against Racism in Magdeburg
In the light of those tremendous events, since 1993 a week or two around March 21 various NGOs, schools, activists and other organizations all around Europe have been facilitating multiple events in hope to eliminate racial discrimination in all forms.
This year it is going to be the fifth time that Week Against Racism takes place in Magdeburg. Since 2016, Auslandsgesellschaft Sachsen-Anhalt e.V. has been the main coordinator of various events happening in One World House and other venues in Magdeburg. This year it is not just a week, but almost two weeks of action: from 16th till 29th of March. Around 19 organizations are offering multiple events in seven different locations. All events are open for everyone. Discussions and freedom of speech are welcome. However, any form of discrimination will not be tolerated. The motto of this great action is “100% Menschenwürde. Zusammen gegen Rassismus”.
The events are very versatile. There will be cultural nights, movie evenings and discussions, talks and experience sharing, as well as informative workshops. There will be even Break Dance Workshop for children and youth, and party night to enjoy life and celebrate inclusion. All these events have the aim to bring different people together and to provide a safe space for them.
The organizers believe that it is so important to do everything possible to decrease the level of hate and nationalism especially after what happened in Halle and Hanau.
Feel free to find out more about Magdeburg weeks against racism by following this link: https://www.agsa.de/1135-internationale-wochen-gegen-rassismus-2020.html
Sharpeville Massacre: https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/sharpeville-massacre-21-march-1960
Apartheid Regime in South Africa: https://www.agsa.de/1135-internationale-wochen-gegen-rassismus-2020.html
Security Council resolution: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3b00f1893c.html
Public Holidays Act: https://m.polity.org.za/article/public-holidays-act-no-36-of-1994-1994-01-01
European action week Against Racism: http://weekagainstracism.eu/
Right-wing attacks in Halle and Hanau: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anschlag_in_Halle_(Saale)_2019