Human Rights Day - 21 March 2017

National Director of Public Prosecutions of the Republic of South Africa, Adv Shaun Abrahams, find myself in Ankara, Turkey, on an official visit having accepted an invitation from the Honorable General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeal, His Excellency Mehmet Akarca.

21March2017-HRDay2Having been educated over the last few days of the very rich history of the Turkish people and the insurmountable difficulties they had to overcome Adv Abrahams cannot help but reflect on the shared values and resilience common to our people. He was fortunate enough to have had the occasion to visit the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, where he participated in a wreath laying ceremony. Not only did Atatürk fight for basic human rights, equality and democracy, woman’s rights were also at the forefront of his values.

As Adv Abrahams and his counterpart contemplated improving relations and cooperation on giving effect to the Rule of Law and Constitutional values, having particular regard to challenges faced in the fight against terrorism, organized crime, money laundering, illicit flows, corruption and immigration related challenges, to mention but a few, he is reminded of the massacre of 21 March 1960 in Sharpeville, where the apartheid police assassinated 69 of our people who marched in defiance of unjust apartheid laws in pursuance of equality and basic human rights.

Education was so central to Atatürk’s vision for the betterment of the Turkish people, reminiscent of the what the people of Sharpeville, supported by many across the country, wanted equality on.

With the disturbingly sad events of 15 July 2016, in which 241 innocent people lost their lives and a further 2194 people sustained serious injuries, and which the Turkish people had to endure, Adv Abrahams wishes them peace and prosperity in their journey in giving effect to Constitutional values and the Rule of Law, as we too continue with our journey for a better and safer place for all in South Africa being mindful of our shared values and where we have come from as a people.

South Africa will continue to support and fight against the demon of terror working side by side with the government and the people of Turkey and commits its unwavering cooperation lest we forget Sharpeville and other massacres and the recent unfortunate incidents of July 15 in Turkey.

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