Norwegians protest against police shooting

Norwegian union confederation protests police brutality against striking workers in Swaziland.

In a letter sent to Swazi Prime Minister, Ambrose Mandvulo, on Tuesday, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, LO Norway, protests against police firing rubber bullets and teargas at public sector workers on strike last week. Several of the strikers, who were demanding cost of living adjustments and a 7,85 per cent salary increase, were injured. Read more of this post

Finally able to vote

Bheki Dlamini had to flee his native Swaziland because he fought for democracy. Monday he voted for the first time – in Norway, where he lives in exile.

– Casting my vote got me thinking. This is my first ever vote and it is happening in a foreign land. In my homeland, Swaziland, I’ve never voted – simply because we don’t have multiparty elections. The elections in Norway serve as a source of strength in pursuit of freedom and democracy at home, says Swazi political activist, Bheki Dlaimini. Read more of this post

Norwegian Labour Party criticises Mswati

The largest political party in the Norwegian parliament, the Norwegian Labour Party Arbeiderpartiet, criticised the absolute monarchy of Swaziland in a resolution presented at its national congress.

– Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies. King Mswati has almost absolute power. While the population of Eswatini suffers from partial extreme poverty, the king lives an extravagant life of luxury.  Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV-Aids-infection per capita. Read more of this post

Rejected salt imports from Western Sahara due to human rights

salt2smallA Norwegian state owned engineering company earlier this year chose to reject a deal for salt from Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara because they found that it would be in violation of their human rights standards.

After having consulted both the Norwegian authorities and the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, engineering company Mesta chose not to conclude a deal with the American salt producer Crystal Mountain. Read more of this post

Danish conference on Western Sahara brings conflicting parties together

The Danish United Nations Association hosted an international conference on the conflict in Western Sahara in Copenhagen on Saturday. The conference included presentations from both parties to the conflict, as well as from former UN representatives, experts, and Scandinavian politicians.

“We believe that it is vital that the Western Sahara conflict is finally put firmly on the international agenda”, the Danish UN Association said in a press release prior to the conference. “Having representatives from both sides of the conflict will enable us to shed light on the conflict in a way that hasn’t been seen before in Denmark”.

Danish Major General, and former commander of the UN Mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Kurt Mosgaard, gave the first presentation where he amongst other things argued that in order to have a fruitful discussion on the issue of Western Sahara, Read more of this post

Health Minister: people are starving in 37-year-old refugee camps

“The people in the refugee camps are starving,” Minister of Public Health in the government of the Western Saharan government in exile, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Mohamed Lamin Dadi, told Danish NGO Africa Contact yesterday [30. October].

Mohamed Lamin Dadi was speaking in Copenhagen, where he ended his European tour of Spain, Italy, Norway and Denmark by meeting with Danish officials, parliamentarians and NGO’s.

In fact, according to the UNHCR, the food supply in the refugee camps, where an estimated 165.000 people live, does not even cover half the basic nutritional needs of the population. And according to a recent press release from the Saharawi Red Crescent, the 2012 budget of the UNHCR in the camps “will not cover even 30% of the basic humanitarian needs of the Saharawi refugees, as evaluated by the High Commissioner, partner NGOs and local authorities.” Read more of this post

Swazi student leader nominated for student peace prize

Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), has been nominated for the 2013 Student Peace Prize, an award given every other year on behalf of Norwegian students to fellow students around the world who have “done important work to promote peace, democracy or human rights.”

The Student Peace Prize attempts to shed light on and increase recognition of the work of the students who are given the award. “Where other peace prizes that go to established personalities light up a lit room,” the website of the Student Peace Prize states,  “the Student Peace Prize puts a spotlight on young persons that still work in the dark.”

Maxwell Dlamini has been nominated by Danish solidarity organisation Africa Contact Read more of this post

Western Sahara: winning the “war on words” and avoiding war

“People will easily be able to sympathize with our issues, but they need the information first.” Senia Bachir Abderahman is talking about the situation in the refugee camp that she grew up in and the frustration that her family and most of her fellow Saharawis (Western Sahara’s indigenous population) cannot escape from this refugee camp because their country is colonised by Morocco.

The Saharawis in occupied Western Sahara are brutally repressed and the youth there are increasingly disillusioned at the lack of progress. They are therefore turning away from peaceful means to solve the conflict. Read more of this post

Norwegian MP will be “good ambassador” for Swaziland

“My three day trip in the country has given me a very strong impression of the Swazi people. The trip has been full of laughter, which is a result of the friendliness of the people. I am going to be a good ambassador for Swaziland in the Norwegian Parliament,” Norwegian MP, Arne Haugen, said after his visit to Swaziland to “observe the beef production sector and assist on how to help Swazi farmers improve their production” as the Swazi Observer, a newspaper owned by Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati, put it. According to the paper, “he has visited a number of feedlots with assistance from minister of Agriculture Clement Dlamini.” Read more of this post

Danish NGO protests against Norwegian MP’s support for Swaziland

“We at Africa Contact in Denmark wish to protest against the support for the Swazi regime that a Norwegian MP’s recent comments and dealings with Swaziland Meat Industries imply,” said a strongly worded protest to the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria from Danish organisation Africa Contact. The organisation has worked in Swaziland, an absolute monarchy where two thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, and where all political parties are banned, for six years.

The reason for the protest was Norwegian MP Arne Haugen’s apparent declarations of support for the Swazi regime in the Swazi Observer yesterday. “I hope that my visit here can lead to more knowledge about your country among Norwegian authorities and collaboration on social issues. I am very grateful for the hospitality I have received which is unlike any other I have seen,” he was quoted of having said. Read more of this post