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Sunday, 15 August 2010

CALL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS SPREADS

Opposition to the human rights catastrophe in Swaziland is growing in neighbouring South Africa.


The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the Secretary-General of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum, Dr. Esau Chiviya, to convene an urgent meeting to discuss the spate of recent human rights abuses occurring in Swaziland.


Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is in the grip of a reign of terror unleashed by the state against pro-democracy activists.


In May 2010 Sipho Jele, an activist for the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), died while in custody. Pro-democracy activists fear he was murdered. An inquest into Jele’s death was opened and has now been adjourned indefinitely.


Jele had been arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a PUDEMO logo. Calls from civil society in Swaziland for an independent investigation into his death, have been met with silence by the Swazi government.


This month, the Swazi police arrested a member of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), Sibusiso Mhlanga, for possessing a copy of a City Press article, that detailed a sex scandal involving the Swazi Royal Family.


All news of the scandal has been suppressed in the Swazi media, but South African newspapers, which also circulate in Swaziland, have carried reports. DA called this, ‘an ominous action amidst allegations against the Swazi authorities of police brutality of activists whilst in detention’.


The DA said in a statement, ‘Both these instances are indicative of a society that lives under an oppressive regime, that of King Mswati III, who denies his citizens what are, in essence, their most basic of human rights.’


The DA wants South African President Jacob Zuma to discuss these ‘very serious human rights violations’ at the SADC Heads of State meeting in Windhoek. ‘The DA believes that it is time for the South African government to demonstrate its leadership in the region and re-affirm our commitment to human rights.’

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