21 March: Sharpeville Massacre and UN anti-racism day video

This video will launch at 6pm on Monday 21 March 2022. If you miss it, it will remain here to catch up with. Donate to our campaign here.

The killing on 21 March 1960 by South African police of 69 peaceful protesters, with 180 injured, in the ‘Sharpeville Massacre’ led to the United Nations setting that date as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

On 21 March in 2022, the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (NMSMF) will mark the date with a short 3-minute video about the atrocity and major international changes it provoked. The video will launch at 6pm on Monday 21 March 2022 at https://mandelascottishmemorial.org/21march and on YouTube and Facebook.

Brian Filling, Chair of the NMSMF and Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland explained: “The video is part of a well-received series in which we cover Scotland’s links to significant events in the anti-apartheid struggle. They have moved many people to donate to help complete our campaign for a statue of Nelson Mandela in Nelson Mandela Place Glasgow, and its associated education programme. We thank them and hope that support continues because we are nearly there.

“Sharpeville exposed to the world that state violence was the South African government’s only response to the peaceful decades-long campaign by the African National Congress for human rights and against racist apartheid.

“Within 10 days, the United Nations condemned the atrocity and called on South Africa to abandon its apartheid policy. It declared that apartheid violated the UN Charter, and in 1966 named 21 March as UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”

Scotland’s anti-apartheid movement gave huge support to the freedom struggle over the years with practical help, boycotts, campaigning, a year-long picket of the South African Consulate, the renaming of the consulate’s address as Nelson Mandela Place, and the 30,000 strong Freedom March.

Glasgow was the first in the world in 1981 to award Mandela the Freedom of the City, with Aberdeen, Dundee, and Midlothian also granting freedoms when he was still a political prisoner. Glasgow’s action had a world-wide effect and kick-started 2,264 mayors from 56 different countries signing a declaration to the UN in 1981 demanding his release. Mandela famously visited Glasgow to receive the Freedoms of nine UK Local Authorities in 1993 and said they: “Made us realise that the world hadn’t forgotten us.”

Flagging up the need to remain alert to racism and today’s rising concerns, Brian Filling added: “A permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela will not only remind Scots of their proud history of solidarity with the South African people, but it will also educate future generations to stand up against racism and prejudice wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.

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