Politiske ledere arresteret til 1. maj i Swaziland

Mario MaydaySom det efterhånden er blevet kutyme, er præsidenten for det forbudte parti PUDEMO blevet arresteret sammen med flere andre politiske ledere 1. maj i Swaziland.

Mario Masuku havde netop holdt en tale til medlemmer af den faglige hovedorganisation TUCOSWA, skriver vicegeneralsekretæren for PUDEMO Alex Langwenya i en mail til Afrika Kontakt. Tusinder af Swazier havde hørt ham tale ved et massemøde i landets største by Manzini.

Ifølge generalsekretæren for Swaziland’s studenterbevægelse, SNUS, blev studenterleder og generalsekretæren for PUDEMO’s ungdomsliga, SWAYOCO, ligeledes arresteret, angiveligt for at have sunget en sang med ordene ”Mswati må ud” om landets enevældige konge. Han skulle have været oppe til eksamen på universitetet i dag. Read more of this post

Anklaget for terrorisme for at bære en T-shirt

PUDEMO t-shirtsSyv medlemmer af People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), et parti i det lille enevældige kongedømme Swaziland hvor partivirksomhed er forbudt, skal tilbringe yderligere syv dage I fængsel. De er anklaget for at bære en T-shirt med partiets logo på til en retssag imod en redaktør og en menneskerettighedsadvokat, der er anklaget for at have kritiseret landets højesteretsdommer.

De syv PUDEMO-medlemmer, heriblandt PUDEMO’s generalsekretær Mlungisi Makhanya, blev arresteret i sidste uge. De er anklaget under Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act, der definerer terrorisme som enhver handling der ”er til fare for den nationale sikkerhed”. PUDEMO, der kæmper med fredelige midler for et demokratisk Swaziland, betragtes ifølge denne lov for en terroristorganisation. Read more of this post

1. maj arrangement stoppet af Swazilands politi

Det er langt fra alle lande, hvor utilfredse borgere kan tillade sig at buhe landets statsminister, og andre ledende medlemmer af regeringspartierne, af scenen 1. maj.

I Swaziland må man ikke engang fejre 1. maj. Landets regime stoppede tidligere i dag  fagbevægelsen fra at afholde 1. maj, ved systematisk at sætte lederne af landets politiske partier og fagbevægelsen under husarrest, samt arrestere mange andre almindelige mennesker. Da præsidenten for landets største politiske parti, Mario Masuku fra PUDEMO, og præsidenten og generalsekretæren for landets fagbevægelse, TUCOSWA, forsøgte at deltage i et 1. maj arrangement, blev de således alle arresteret.

Den 1. maj 2010 blev et ungt PUDEMO-medlem, Sipho Jele arresteret for at bære en t-shirt Read more of this post

Swaziland – a country in a constant state of crisis

Swaziland, the last autocratic monarchy in Africa, is a country in an almost constant state of crisis. The repeated human rights violations and harassment of the Swazi democracy movement by the Swazi regime, the huge inequalities between a small Swazi elite and the poor majority, and an Aids prevalence rate of over 40% should make newspapers and governments around the world act. But these stories are rarely if ever covered by the foreign media or condemned by world leaders or governments. In recent months the house of the Swaziland United Democratic Front National Organising Secretary Secretary has been bombed, maybe by the Swazi police; the leader of the largest opposition party, PUDEMO, has been charged with acts of terrorism for speaking his mind and is more or less constantly harassed by police; student leader Pius Vilakati has gone missing after having been attempted abducted by police; human rights activist Sipho Jele has died in police custody, probably at the hands of the police; and the President of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions has had his house searched for bombs. Read more of this post

The Secretary General – an account from the democracy movement in Swaziland

It is certainly not a dream come true, having to meet the king. Definitely not a privilege, though everyone else would think so. The last time he did so, he was more or less on his knees and in the middle of putting his case to King Mswati, when he king suddenly interrupted him as asked, ”excuse me, but who are you?”It would have been even worse to have been asked to become an MP in Swaziland’s parliament, however. Refusing such an “honour” is not an option!

When you visit Vincent Ncongwane, General Secretary for Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), you have to first pass through a back yard, a mechanic and a hair dressers shop. Read more of this post

Mario Masuku arrested in Swaziland

PUDEMO-leader, Mario Masuku, was arrested and charged with terrorism after having mentioned the name of PUDEMO during a speech at Sipho Jele’s funeral yesterday, May 22.

As I left, we found a roadblock along the way and they just picked me up from the vehicle and I was shoved into the back of the police van and taken to Malkerns police station … I was then charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act because I mentioned the name of the People’s United Democratic Movement, Pudemo, and according to the law that was an offense”, Masuku told Agence France-Press. Read more of this post

Swazi student leader still missing

Swazi student leader and democracy activist, Pius Vilakati, who fellow students believe has been abducted by police following police disruption of the funeral of Pudemo member Sipho Jele, is still missing. Vilakati had held a speech at the funeral criticising the Swazi regime, and had to be smuggled out of the funeral in the hearse to avoid being arrested. His disappearance was first noticed when he didn’t turn up for a written exam last Monday (May 17) at the University of Swaziland where he is a student. Vilakati’s girlfriend, who understandibly wishes to remain anonymous, and his friends have not heard from him and are getting increasingly worried. Read more of this post

Danish NGO asks South Africa and the EU to pressurize and isolate Swaziland

In a press statement, Danish solidarity and activist organisation, Africa Contact, describes the regime in Swaziland as “brutal” in connection with the death in detention of Pudemo activist Sipho Jele and the disappearance of Swaziland National Union of Students leader Pius Vilakati, the latter who is believed to have been abducted by police. In letters to the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, as well as to the two Delegations of the European Union to the Kingdom of Swaziland in Mbabane and Lesotho, respectively, the organisation further urges South Africa and the EU to pressurize and isolate the Swazi regime in response to its increasingly brutal human rights violations. Read more of this post

Swazi police disrupt funeral of Sipho Jele

The funeral of Sipho Jele, the Pudemo activist who died in custody at the hands of Swazi police, was yesterday (16 May) disrupted by Swazi police. The more than 300 police officers in riot gear that were present at the funeral not only arrested and detained at least three of the over 500 peaceful mourners, but also “forcefully took away everything which bore PUDEMO colours and stripped the cloth which was used as a cover to the casket of the coffin”, according to  sources within the democracy movement in Swaziland that I have been in contact with. The police also smashed pictures of the deceased with the inscription “Rest in Peace Comrade Sipho Jele”, that were hanging in the tent where the service was being held. Read more of this post

Swazi regime under pressure in the case of Sipho Jele

There have been many developments during the week that has passed since Sipho Jele died in police custody in Swaziland. Most significant is the fact that the Swazi regime has been pressured into holding an inquest into Sipho Jele’s death, and according to Bongani Masuku of Cosatu, Pudemo has also been able to secure legal assistance for Sipho Jele’s family. The lawyer has already made possible the identification of Sipho Jele’s body by his family last Saturday as well as ensuring that an foreign independent pathologist performs the autopsy, although the date for the autopsy has not yet been set. Read more of this post