Western Sahara’s forgotten refugees

The conflict in Western Sahara should be making headline news around the world and have ordinary people up in arms, metaphorically speaking. Not only has the country been colonised by Morocco since 1975, regardless of the illegality of the colonisation and the seemingly endless number of UN resolutions that substantiate this. Not only has the European Union amongst others benefited from trade agreements with Morocco to illegally extract its resources. And not only has Morocco been scolded for the many Human Rights abuses that have been committed by its police and security forces against the Saharawi population, as well as against human rights activists in Morocco and the occupied territories of Western Sahara. Read more of this post

Swazi PM’s World Citizen Award a hoax

The World Citizen Award, which is to be given to the Swazi Prime Minister for his “exemplary contributions to peace and human rights”, has received widespread coverage in the Swazi media as well as on various websites and Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini is all set to go to the Bahamas to receive the award, according to a statement from the Swazi Government Press Secretary Macanjana Motsa; “cabinet has approved that His Excellency the Right Honourable Prime Minister accepts this award”.

According to one of the persons alleged to be a board member of the World Citizen Award  that is to be presented to Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, Peter Bell, the World Citizen Award is a hoax, however. “I regret to say that you and I – among others – have been victims of a hoax”, Peter Bell, a senior research fellow at Harvard, commented in a reply to an email sent to him yesterday by Danish organisation Africa Contact. Read more of this post

Swazi PM to recieve human rights award

As the regime in Swaziland in general, and Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini in particular, are symbols of Human Rights violations in word as well as in deed, it was very surprising to read that Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini is to receive the World Citizen Award 2010 for his ‘exemplary contributions to peace and human rights’. Especially as Barnabas Dlamini recently openly pronounced and defended that the regime would torture ‘dissidents’ and ‘meddling’ foreigners. Read more of this post

Swazi police raid home of human rights lawyer

This morning, Saturday 25 September 2010 at 7 am, 12 to 15 police officers from the serious crime unit of the Manzini Regional Police Head Quarters attempted to raid the house of human rights lawyer and political activist Sipho ‘Manyovu’ Mnisi in Manzini’s Ngwane Park, according to a source in the Swaziland democracy movement.

Sipho Mnisi refused to let them inside his house, however, demanding a search warrant, which the police did not have. They instead proceeded to search his cars to check if they were stolen, and then went on to search all the other cars in the yard belonging to the landlord. Sipho Mnisi was not harmed and nothing incriminating was found.

Sipho ‘Manyovu’ Mnisi was the lawyer who fought tiredlessly to secure the release of the three Africa Contact representatives and two Foundation for Socio Economic Justice employees when they were detained by the Royal Swazi Police force on September 7, during the recent Global Day of Action in Manzini.

Sipho Mnisi is a high-profiled lawyer in Swaziland who has represented PUDEMO leader Mario Masuku on several occasions.

Swaziland: …and all the king’s men

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy run by King Mswati III, who has the authority to appoint the Prime Minister, members of parliament, and the judiciary, and according to the constitution he also has the final say in executive, legislative, and judicial matters. Regardless of the increasing brutality of the Swazi regime, the King is also to a large degree still popular throughout Swazi society, at least symbolically if not in person, and no political party openly declares that it wishes Swaziland to become a republic.

Many see the King as a figure and symbol of cultural significance, binding together the Swazi nation. Cultural events such as the Reed Dance, however, are also good examples of how the monarchy and the King use culture to retain absolute power. Read more of this post

British Foreign Office to reproach Swaziland over mistreatment of British citizen

According to a representative of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the FCO will be “making representations” towards the Swazi regime over the “mistreatment” of a British foreign national during the Global Week of Action in Swaziland. “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes all allegations of mistreatment against British nationals very seriously and will raise the allegations with the relevant authority in the country concerned,” the representative wrote on 16 September in a reply to an email sent to them raising the issues of the mistreatment of a British citizen on 7 September in Manzini. A delegation from Danish organisation Africa Contact, including two Danish citizens and one British, Peter Kenworthy, were detained by police, beaten, threatened, and denied any legal representation, food, drink, or visits to the toilet during a five hour ordeal at Manzini Regional Police Headquarters. Read more of this post

Swaziland: Putting the unity back in the United Democratic front

The Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) was formed in 2008 in an attempt to coordinate and unite the efforts of the democratic movement in Swaziland and subsequently attempt to expand its political space. The South African United Democratic Front (UDF) that fought apartheid in the eighties and nineties relied on the strong South African trade unions to make the country ungovernable through marches, strikes and boycotts. The SUDF seemingly wants to play a similar, if initially less confrontational, role, although there are several obvious differences between the South African and the Swazi struggle. Read more of this post

Swaziland: Freedom is a strange concept

If you bring up Swaziland in a conversion, most people will either look puzzled or mutter something unconvincing about a peaceful kingdom bordering South Africa. This is because most of the people who have actually been to Swaziland have done so superficially, as tourists visiting the country for a couple of days. What they have seen here are the exuberant malls, good roads, and flawless tourist facilities. There is, however, a different Swaziland, a Swaziland where over two thirds of the population survive for less than a dollar a day, where over 40% are HIV-positive, and where the population at large are suppressed by a combination of “traditional” feudal structures and values, brutal police forces, and a tiny but filthy rich elite. Read more of this post

This is Swaziland – an eyewitness account of the brutality of the Swazi police

The Police entered the offices of the Foundation for Socio-economic Justice in Manzini, Swaziland at 9.20 am on September 7. Three representatives of the Danish organisation Africa Contact (myself included) were sitting peacefully drinking coffee together with two Foundation for Socio-economic Justice (FSEJ) employees. Africa Contact was in Swaziland to monitor a project with our partners, FSEJ, and talk to various other Swazi organisations to be able to write a report to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ten police officers charged into the office and started slapping and beating all five of us, knocking my glasses violently to the ground, throttling another, and repeatedly hitting one of the FSEJ employees. Read more of this post

Police raid SFTU offices in Swaziland

At 8.45 today, Swazi police raided the offices of the Swazi Federation of Trade Unions. This happened only five minutes before the planned march of the Global Day of Action was to commence. The reason for targeting the SFTU offices was that the march activity was being organized and coordinated from here, and that the police by doing so are trying to shut down the legal march entirely.
Sources amongst the organizers of the march have said that the march will continue as planned, however, regardless of the immense presence of police officers and vehicles on every corner of the city. Sources from within the Swaziland Democracy Campaign in South Africa have told Africa Contact that the Swazi military have also been deployed in an attempt to intimidate the marchers.
The police have also arrested the Deputy President of PUDEMO, Sukhumbuzo Phakathi, and it has not been possible for the lawyers of PUDEMO to contact him yet.
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