UN Anti-Racism Day has been observed on 21 March ever since 1966.
The goals of Anti-Racism Day are clear: to oppose every form of racism, both in Britain and around the world, influenced by the principle that all humans are born free and equal.
Last weekend we saw marches in cities including London and Glasgow to mark Anti-Racism Day and bring together communities to oppose hatred. In London alone, tens of thousands are believed to have turned out to take a stand against bigotry.
Yet much of the world is still turning a blind eye to the ongoing persecution of Palestinians by the state of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian lands.
Palestinians are continuing to lose their lives under the occupation in both Gaza and the West Bank, while they continue to be cleansed from neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. The UN’s statistics indicate that since January at least 22 Palestinians have been killed by the occupation. Protesters have been mown down, Gaza has been bombed and Palestinians in the West Bank have faced attack from settlers.
Within Israel’s recognised borders Palestinians have faced a regime of severe discrimination, which affects every area of their lives. This continues to involve widespread forced displacement, land confiscations, ethnic discrimination in housing and land rights and a total of 65 laws which discriminate against Palestinians. These appalling practices clearly run counter both to the principles of United Nations Anti-Racism Day and the UN Convention On Racial Discrimination that inspires Anti-Racism Day.
With Israel currently facing an investigation for breaching a major Anti-Racism treaty, it is disappointing that few governments around the world have stood up to these appalling practices. Nonetheless, the efforts in our communities and in civil society to challenge racism have offered hope for the future.