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South Africa honors apartheid freedom fighters on Human Rights Day

March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, marked the celebration of Human Rights Day in South Africa. On this day 52 years ago, an apartheid massacre took place in Sharpeville, and 69 South African protesters were killed by police. The holiday is a memorial to the men and women who gave their lives in the fight against apartheid, according to The Associated Press. Residents of Sharpeville raised concerns that the commemoration of the holiday was not held in their town, but the presidency publicly explained the holiday was observed all over the nation.

"We wish to emphasize that the commemoration and celebration of national days take place throughout the country and not necessarily in areas where certain events have a historical link," said presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj. "Changing venues does not diminish the role played by the people of that community where it started. Instead, it means their heroism is now being shared by the rest of the country."

President Jacob Zuma addressed his people on the holiday to remind them of how far South Africa has come in just a few decades. He also took the time to talk about the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done to provide basic rights like housing, clean water and healthcare to everyone in the country, the AP reports.

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