6 September 2012

Swaziland: Armed Police Invade Freedom Summit

Heavily-armed police in Swaziland have invaded the venue for a 'people's summit' due to take place today (6 September 2012) as part of week-long pro-democracy activities in the kingdom.

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) reported 'a large number of heavily armed and hostile police' invaded the Bosco Skills Centre, Manzini, where the summit was due to start today.

Delegates from inside and outside Swaziland were gathering to discuss a number of issues around human rights in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. Among the topics for discussion was the call for the creation of a People's Government and the writing of a 'People's Charter' that would clearly spell out the demands of the people of Swaziland.

The SDC reported earlier today that Mphandlana Shongwe, vice-president of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, one of the summit's sponsors, had been ordered to go to Manzini regional police headquarters.

In a statement it said, 'The police are said to be threatening the activists that have gathered, stating that they have been informed that PUDEMO [People's United Democratic Movement] and SWAYOCO [the youth wing of PUDEMO] have called a meeting and such meeting cannot be allowed to continue because the said two organisations have been banned and proscribed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, 2008.'

Later, the SDC reported police had allowed summit to proceed. 'However, there still remains a large menacing contingent of the heavily armed police at the venue. Activists are bravely proceeding to Bosco Skills Centre despite the intimidation and harassment from the police,' it said.

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