The day is annually observed on 21 March and was proclaimed on 1966 after Sharpeville massacre (1960), in which the police killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”.
In 2017, the day is focused on addressing racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration. In addition, the UN Human Rights Office is asking people around the world to Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today, a campaign encouraging and supporting actions to defend the human rights of others.
“The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an annual reminder to us all to do more to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, hate speech and hate crimes.
“But 21 March needs to be more than a reminder. People of African descent continue to be victims of racist hate crimes and racism in all areas of life. Anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head from the US to Europe to the Middle East and beyond. Muslim women wearing headscarves face increasing verbal, and even physical, abuse in a number of countries. In Latin America, indigenous peoples continue to endure stigmatization, including in the media.” said a statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
Sporting bodies mark the day
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is amongst the sport organisations marking the day. In a statement, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Practising sport, without discrimination of any kind, is a human right and a fundamental principle of the Olympic Movement,
“We believe in the power of sport to build bridges between communities, and the Olympic Games are the embodiment of how sport can help stand up against racial discrimination, and unite people from all walks of life.”
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) March 21, 2017
On social media, the United States Major League Soccer (MLS) emphasised their commitment to end discrimination and promote an atmosphere of diversity, equality and inclusion throughout the football community through the #DontCrossTheLine campaign.
— MLS WORKS (@MLSWORKS) March 20, 2017
In Cyprus, AC OMONIA Nicosia also took to social media to mark the day, as well as Figueirense FC from Brazil and Malaga CF.
— AC Omonia Nicosia (@ACOmoniaNicosia) March 21, 2017
— Figueirense FC (@FigueirenseFC) March 18, 2017
— Málaga CF (@MalagaCF) March 21, 2017
Across the world, many more have sent messages of tolerance.
— Football United (@football_united) March 21, 2017
— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) March 20, 2017