3 January 2014

Swaziland: 2013 - Year of Repression in Swaziland

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State security forces raided the homes of democracy activists and made arrests after Wonder Mkhonza, the National Organizing Secretary of the banned political party the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), was charged with sedition after being allegedly in possession of 5,000 pamphlets belonging to PUDEMO.

Student leader Maxwell Dlamini was charged with sedition because he allegedly tried to organise a meeting to discuss the forthcoming elections in the kingdom.

He was alleged to have been one of the organisers of a rally at the Msunduza Township on 19 April 2013 (the same day as birthday celebrations were taking place for King Mswati III elsewhere in the kingdom).

May

Police refused to allow women in Swaziland to march in protest against gender-based violence. They told the women they could not march because police and the local chief did not want any noise ahead of the election soon to be held in the kingdom.

The march at Siphofaneni was to protest at an incident in the area when a wife was paraded naked for three kilometres by her boyfriend after he accused her of being 'promiscuous'.

Police across Swaziland prevented leaders of the campaign for democracy in the kingdom from attending May Day celebrations. Mario Masuku, president of the banned PUDEMO, was taken in by police after he refused to obey instructions not to leave his house.

Muzi Mhlanga, the secretary general of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) was also illegally placed under house arrest by police.

They had neither a court order nor warrant. Earlier in the week the Swazi Industrial Court banned TUCOSWA from organising May Day activities. The court said TUCOSWA was not a legally-recognised labour organisation.

June

Armed police stopped a youth group from holding an election workshop at a local church.

The workshop organised by the Swaziland Youth Empowerment Organisation, also known as Luvatsi, was due to be held in Sidvokodvo.

The police had no warrant or court order, but were acting on instructions of their station commander, local media reported. The workshop was to cover the election due in Swaziland this year, human rights and democracy.

Police fired live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at their school. It happened at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini when police were called after school pupils boycotted classes.

Local media reported police were armed with rifles and pistols. Gun shots were fired at the pupils after police drove them away from the school, but they tried to return.

Three members of the pro-democracy group SWAYOCO charged with sedition for carrying a banner at an election rally in Swaziland reported they had been beaten up while in the Sidvwashini Correctional Facility awaiting trial. They told magistrates they feared for their safety.

July

Police in Swaziland were caught spying on the kingdom's members of parliament. One officer disguised in plain clothes was thrown out of a workshop for MPs and one MP reported his phone has been bugged.

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