On 21 March 1960 at Sharpeville 69 unarmed protestors were shot dead by apartheid police during a protest against the Pass Laws. A watershed event, this massacre led to the start of UN sanctions and an intensified liberation struggle.
The date was later declared by the UN as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and in South Africa is marked as Human Rights Day – a public holiday. Nelson Mandela as President chose Sharpeville as the location where he signed into law the new non-racial Constitution of South Africa on UN Human Rights Day, 10 December, 1996. For more information see the history links here.