The most prominent Swazi pro-democracy activist in the UK, Thobile Gwebu, has been detained by the UK immigration authorities and is due to be deported as a failed asylum seeker on Tuesday (17 August 2010).
Gwebu is the co-ordinator of the Swaziland Vigil, which has been campaigning every Saturday for human rights outside the Swaziland High Commission in London since January.
She has become well-known to the Swazi authorities and in May 2010 the Times of Swaziland quoted her extensively in an article about the Swaziland Vigil. The paper also interviewed a Swazi government minister about the article and the UK protest.
Campaigners on her behalf say this means that she is known to the Swazi authorities as a pro-democracy activist and the Swazi authorities have made clear they will attack all forms of dissent.
Campaigners say the deportation is ‘a full implementation of the king’s order to kill pro-democracy activists'.
The Zimbabwe Vigil, a group publicizing Gwebu’s situation says she ‘will be at considerable risk if returned to Swaziland.
‘It is Africa’s last absolute monarchy and is under Africa’s longest-running state of emergency.
‘We quote Thobile’s own words: “Exiled Swazis and supporters urge the UK to put pressure on the absolute monarch King Mswati III to allow political freedom, freedom of speech, the rule of law, respect for women and affordable AIDS drugs in Swaziland.”
‘The Zimbabwe Vigil is appalled that her asylum claim has been turned down and that she is to be handed over to this medieval despot, who would like to spend the country’s revenues on a Boeing to fly his 14 wives to the fleshpots of the world.’