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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

COURT ORDERS POLICE TO STOP ABUSE

Freedom House has learned from a credible source that earlier today (13 April 2011), upon the application of one Swazi worker, the High Court of Swaziland issued an order compelling the security forces to desist from the harassment, abuse and arbitrary detention of peaceful protestors. This restraining order has been blatantly ignored by the police who continue to target both the leadership and the ordinary members of the peaceful democratic movement. Far from ending their campaign of violence and intimidation against the protestors, the police have altered their tactics and are now accusing prominent members of the trade union leadership of being agents of violence. One reports suggest that the Secretary General of the Swazi National Association of Teachers, Muzi Mhlanga, who was under house arrest for most of the day, is being rearrested and charged with possession of firearms that were allegedly found at his home. It is believed that these were almost certainly planted by the same police officers that found them.

Given the scale of the intimidation and harassment by the security forces, the trade union leadership had considered calling off the strike, in order to protect the physical wellbeing of its members. This was discussed this evening at the SNAT offices, where police used tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to break up the meeting. This attempt failed however and workers themselves even began to congregate outside the offices. These workers themselves are refusing to stand down, and have demanded that their leadership does not call off the strike. This situation is still developing, however without a mandate from their members to call it off, it is now likely that the strike and protest will continue into a third day.

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