Faizel Patel – 22/03/2021
As South Africa marks Human Rights day, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) says the country has not made enough progress to heal the inequality and divisions within our society.
Sunday marked the 61st anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre.
This year’s celebration was held under the theme the year of Charlotte Maxeke promoting human rights in the age of COVID-19 paying tribute to the 150th anniversary of the birth of the liberation struggle heroine.
The commemoration also saw a call for compassion and a continued fight against injustice and police brutality.
Speaking to Radio Islam, the IJR’s Felicity Harrison says South Africa needs to do a lot more work to foster human rights and democracy.
“In terms of issues like changing the apartheid legislation and our legal framework, we’ve come very far. But in terms of implementing the bill of rights and the constitution, we still have a very long way to go.”
Harrison says there are many issues that have created divisions among South Africans.
“Our research indicates that while people have seen some progress in terms of coming together, but there are still very big things that divide us. The biggest thing that divide us are race and inequality.”
Speaking about the Islamic concept and history of human rights, esteemed Islamic scholar Mufti Zubair Bayat says the first charter of human rights was proclaimed on the plains of Arafah and the time Hajjatul Widah by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
“To emphasize the magnitude and the stature of human rights and the rights of humans upon one another, he made a clear declaration on those plains of Arafah, that remember the life of everyone, the wealth and property of everyone and honour of everyone is inviolable. No person has the right to usurp or to infringe or to trample on the rights of another human being.”
Mufti Bayat says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was instituted decades later is meaningless if not implemented.
“The universal declaration of human rights is just a piece of paper. It’s just a document unless it is upheld diligently by the nations of the world, it is simply just a glorified document and nothing else.”
On Sunday during his Human Rights address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said we must rebuild a society that is far better than the one that came before it adding that we must be a society of equal opportunity for all.
Listen to the interview with Felicity Harrison
Listen to the discussion by Mufti Zubair Bayat