Soweto Day ceremony held on 16 June, marking eleventh anniversary of massacre.

 
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Soweto Day ceremony held on 16 June, marking eleventh anniversary of massacre

"Soweto Day'--the International Day of Solidarity with the Struggling Peoples of South Africa--was observed on 16 June at Headquarters at a solemn meeting of the Special Committee against Apartheid. It marked the eleventh anniversary of the deaths on 16 June 1976 of hundreds of schoolchildren, demonstrating against the forcible imposition of the Afrikaans language and the so-called Bantu education. Many more were maimed for life as a result of the incident.

The Committee observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims of Soweto and all other victims of apartheid, as well as the many freedom fighters who had sacrificed their lives in the struggle against apartheid and racial discrimination.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar in a message said it was a regrettable fact that since a state of emergency had been imposed, thousands of people had been arbitrarily detained for varying periods, including not only political opponents of apartheid, but also hundreds of schoolchildren. Pretoria's decision in June 1987 to extend the state of emergency was a cause for increasing concern.

The abandonment of apartheid, the lifting of the state of emergency and the prompt release of all political prisoners and detainees were necessary to create a climate for a meaningful dialogue between the leaders of the communities in South Africa, he said. History was replete with situations in which people had triumphed over what seemed to be at the time insurmountable obstacles. "Our challenge is to help to hasten the day when South Africa will be a democratic state in which people of all races, colour and creed will enjoy equal rights and live in harmony...

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