Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (21 March) on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
The past few weeks have shown us in an unprecedented way how important it is to stand together as a society and act in a spirit of solidarity – regardless of skin colour, descent or national and ethnic origin. Especially in these difficult times in which Covid-19 is dominating our daily lives, it is more important than ever that we do not tolerate discrimination, exclusion or hatred against particular groups, but support each other and master the challenge that we currently face together.
More than 50 years after the entry into force of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, racism continues to be a sad fact of life in the Federal Republic of Germany and in almost every country around the world. The current pandemic is a clear reminder of how close-knit our globalised world has already become. It shows us that successfully overcoming such an emergency situation is only possible if we act together and do not allow ourselves to be divided as societies.
Each and every one must be afforded the same support, tolerance and respect. And each and every one of us can do their part to ensure that no one is discriminated against on the basis of their appearance, origin or name. It is our civic duty to stand up against racist opinions and comments and to vehemently defend the values enshrined in our Basic Law. I call on each and every one of you to offer your help to all our fellow human beings who currently need our help, without any discrimination. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reminds us that we must continue to work hard to ensure that racist ideas have no place in today’s society.
Ceremonies are being held today to mark the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, where a peaceful demonstration against an apartheid law was put down violently on 21 March 1960. Sixty-nine people lost their lives and hundreds were wounded, some seriously. Six years later, the UN proclaimed 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.