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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

HLOPHE RAID: ACT OF INTIMIDATION

The recent raid on the home of pro-democracy activist Musa Hlophe was an act of intimidation that shows the desperation of the Swazi authorities.


And it shows the ‘reality of Swaziland as a repressive, corrupt and undemocratic regime is open for the world to see’.


This is how the Swaziland Coalition for Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) reacted to the raid on Hlophe’s home. Police had a warrant to search for bombs or bomb-making equipment.


SCCCO, in a statement, said it doubted that the police really had evidence that Hlophe was involved in terrorism and it is seeking legal advice to see if it can discover why ‘supposedly independent, judicial authorities’ granted a search warrant.


SCCCO said, ‘The state's recent surveillance of our members, staff and offices means that they know that the Coalition is a peaceful organization and does not subscribe to any form of violence. The Coalition believes that this raid was an act of intimidation and that it shows the desperation of the Swazi authorities. Our members' domestic and international advocacy work with SADC [Southern African Development Community], AU [African Union], the Commonwealth, the European Union, United States, United Nations and elsewhere now mean that the reality of Swaziland as a repressive, corrupt and undemocratic regime is open for the world to see.’


SCCCO said, ‘To use the Suppression of Terrorism Act against Musa Hlophe, a 72-year-old human rights defender, grandfather, farmer and newspaper columnist shows how far removed from reality the Swazi authorities are. In his professional and personal capacities, Babe Hlophe has consistently been the voice of calm reason, guiding the pro-democracy movement towards a mature and measured response to increasingly callous policies and heavy handed tactics by the Swazi Authorities.’


SCCCO is made up of Swaziland-based organizations representing the trade unions, employers, lawyers, churches, NGOs, media, women’s groups and youth.


It also has international strategic partners, including the Centre for Conflict Resolution, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, the Institute for Democracy in Africa, Amnesty International, the Dennis Hurley Peace Institute, the Catholic Aid Foundation and Bread for the World.


‘Each one of them reflects our complete and utter commitment to non-violent approaches to change and we would not, and could not partner, with them if it were not so,’ SCCCO said.


SCCCO Chair, Bishop Meshack Mabuza, said, ‘To have a system of governance that confuses legitimate dissent with terrorism is obviously one that understands neither. If a man of peace such as Babe Hlophe can be called a terrorist then all Swazis can be called terrorists. Who can protect us from our government? The judges and MPs have failed us, it is left to civil society to stand up for the ordinary men, women and children of Swaziland. These foolish, wasteful and short-sighted bullying tactics by the authorities only increase the Coalition’s sense of purpose. Our mission to educate the public and the government on their rights, duties and responsibilities as citizens continues as before.’

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