The ceremony was hosted by the South African Ambassador Vika Mazwi Khumalo and ambassadors and heads of accredited diplomatic missions in Tehran and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Mahdi Safari took part in the ceremony.

Freedom Day is the commemoration of the first democratic elections held in South Africa on 27 April 1994.  These were the first post-apartheid national elections to be held in South Africa where anyone could vote regardless of race. On the first commemoration of the holiday, Nelson Mandela whose successful struggle against South Africa’s apartheid system of racial segregation and discrimination made him a global symbol for the cause of human rights and earned him the Nobel Prize, addressed Parliament.

During the ceremony, the South African envoy to Iran called Freedom Day the most important day in the country’s calendar. “It marks the liberation of our country and its people from the vicious shackles of colonialism and apartheid… April 27 1994 marks the first time in a long history that the majority of South Africans were freed from oppression…and won the right to vote as one indivisible nation…”

“The achievement of this Freedom was a long and hard-fought struggle, which could not have been possible without the support of many other countries, amongst others, the five Front-Line States in Southern Africa, and of course Cuba, the then Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries as well as the anti-apartheid movement in Europe and the US, including the punitive sanctions imposed by the UN,” he added.

Khumalo also pointed to the support of Iran for the liberation movements in South Africa, saying, “The Islamic Republic of Iran also played a pivotal role by severing all diplomatic and economic relations with apartheid South Africa and supporting the various South African liberation movements between 1979 and 1994. “

Mahdi Safari also delivered a speech at the ceremony, congratulating the South African government and people on the 29th anniversary of the country’s Freedom Day.

“The anniversary reminds us of the efforts and sacrifices of the people of South Africa as well as the support they received from their friendly countries in the world. It is almost 30 years that have passed since the end of apartheid. During the apartheid era and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately cut relations with the apartheid regime with a view to supporting the oppressed people of South Africa. This was very encouraging that during his two visits to Iran, the Late Nelson Mandela emphasized the significant impacts of the victory of the Islamic Revolution on the fighters against apartheid in South Africa. Immediately after the victory over the Apartheid regime, Iran re-established diplomatic relations with South Africa. The relationship has been since maintained, strengthened and upgraded,” the Iranian diplomat noted.

Safari further pointed to the bilateral relations between the two countries, saying, “During the 29 years of friendly relations with South Africa, we have organized 14 joint commissions between the two countries, where excellent agreements and cooperation arrangements have been concluded in economic, cultural, political, scientific, health, agricultural, and other fields. We hope to hold the 15th session of the Joint Commission in the very near future in Pretoria which will certainly cement further development in our relations.”

Reported by Zahra Mirzafarjouyan