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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 3. 1969.

Sharpeville vigil this Friday

Sharpeville vigil this Friday

A Vigil to commemorate Sharpeville Day will be held outside the South African Embassy from 12—2 p.m. on Friday.

Leslie Smith, speaking for the organisers said the vigil had attracted considerable support around the university.

She said Student's Association was officially behind the project and listed support from the Labour and National Party Clubs: Te Rangitahi; Catholic Society; Student Christian Movement; and the Socialist and Sparticist Clubs.

The General Assembly of the United Nations formalised the 21st March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The action was taken to commemorate the 21 March 1960 when Africans in South Africa held nation-wide demonstrations protesting against "Pass Laws" which restricted their Freedom of movement.

In the African location of Sharpeville, the police opened fire on the unarmed demonstrators; 69 people were killed, including 8 women and 10 children, and 180 people were injured.

This incident led to the first consideration of the situation in South Africa by the Security Council of the UN.

The Secretary-General of the UN, U Thant said in his message in 1968 ". . . our minds go back to that 21 March when Africans who demonstrated in opposition to the policies of racial discrimination and apartheid were shot and killed in Sharpeville. We cannot forget that tragedy."

The General Assembly's Special Committee on Apartheid has suggested activities which might be undertaken on 21 March.

"Declare support to UN efforts to promote the elimination of Apartheid and faciliate the building of a non racial society in which all inhabitants of South Africa, irrespective of race, would enjoy human rights and find fundamental freedoms on an equal basis."

Further suggestions were to inform the people of South Africa about international concern over the situation, and combat "misrepresentation" by the South African Government.

Contributions to organisations combating apartheid were requested, including moral, political and material assistance to movements within the country.

Sympathisers were requested to press for the release of all persons within South Africa who have been imprisoned or whose freedom has been restricted on account of their op-position to apartheid.