On Human Rights day, South Africa remembers the Sharpeville massacre which took place on 21 March 1960 when demonstrators were gunned down by police. As we commemorate this day in history, we can take pride in that the right to freedom of expression is now entrenched in the South African Constitution as a facilitative right upon which other fundamental rights are based, including the right to protest. However, more than 50 years after the devastating events in Sharpeville and the attainment of freedom in South Africa, the need for the protection of the right to protest is ever present. Despite the significant progress made within the free South Africa, we now see a trend of growing intolerance towards individuals and groups who share divergent views from those in power. Most recently, we have seen the flagrant disregard of the right to protest in the murder of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg (2011), the undeclared state of emergency in Rustenburg following the Marikana shooting in 2012 and other unreported incidence clamping down on dissent in communities all over South Africa.
The Freedom of Expression Institute has been actively involved in the protection of these rights through litigation, research, training, campaigns and advocacy aimed at protecting the right to freedom of expression, protest, access to information and the prevention of all forms of censorship. We believe that through these actions, we can strengthen democracy and achieve a society where everyone enjoys these rights freely. The recent widely reported cases of police brutality are indeed an eyesore and a reminder that the struggle to protect and defend human rights remains absolutely critical. FXI calls on all South Africans to use this day to recommit to the defence of the Freedom of Expression which is a human rights lynchpin.
Freedom of Expression Institute is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in 1994 to protect and foster the right to freedom of expression and to oppose censorship. Its vision is a society where everyone enjoys freedom of expression and the right to access and disseminate information.
Tel: 011 482 1913
For more about the Freedom of Expression Institute, refer to www.fxi.org.za.
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.