Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March):
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which prohibits any form of discrimination on the basis of race, colour and descent, as well as national or ethnic origin. The Convention now has 179 signatories. This should be a reason to celebrate.
However, 50 years on, racism remains a worldwide phenomenon – unfortunately also in Germany. Every day, people face discrimination and are excluded and treated with hostility for racist reasons. Last week’s barbaric attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, illustrates what racism and xenophobia can lead to.
Helping to put an end to racism and group-focused enmity is a key priority for the Federal Government. It is not least on account of our history that we have a responsibility to take decisive action against anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms, as well as against Islamophobia and anti‑Gypsyism.
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, as these no longer have any place in the 21st century.
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.