The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed on 21 March across the world to remember the day when police opened fire at unarmed people and massacred 69 of them at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville of South Africa. The people were observing a peaceful protest against the apartheid pass laws.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the day in 1966 to the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
It is important to note that with the commemoration of an international day against racial discrimination, the UN aims not only to raise awareness about the scourge of racism but also encourage people to support actions in their daily lives that serve to defend the human rights of others. Because racism affects us all as part of the society.
The UN points out that to fight against racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, the collaboration of all people is necessary, because racism affects us all. Desmond Tutu puts this argument as, ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.’
The UN wants to have a special impact on racial discrimination in the context of migration, because it is precisely migrants and refugees who mostly become the targets of racial discrimination and hate crimes in the international arena.
Racism is a form of intolerance and rejection on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin. All of us have the universal right not to be discriminated, to be treated equally, to be respected, to live in harmony and not to suffer any kind of exclusion due to our skin color, our belonging to a certain ethnic group, our accent, our origin, nationality or our traits.
May this day raise new hope among the victims of racism around the world and the goal of the UN to bring an end to this detrimental practice comes to an end.