Trade unionists in Swaziland stood their ground and refused to allow police to break up their legitimate meeting.
Police wanted the gathering in Lubombo stopped because they had not been informed of the agenda.
The meeting organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was to discuss the Swazi Government’s plan to introduce value added tax (VAT) into the kingdom.
A report from Swaziland says that more than 10 police officers arrived before the meeting started at a local school. The police forced their way into the room after organisers refused their demand to call off the meeting.
According to a report in the Times of Swaziland there was shoving and pushing between the police and the trade unionists, but the police backed down after the organisers refused to be intimidated.
A police spokesperson told the newspaper that organisers should have been informed about the meeting.
This is not the first time that Swaziland police have intervened in legally-held meetings. In November 2011 they stopped a prayer meeting ‘for the problems that engulfed the country’ at the Lutheran church in Mbabane.
Also in 2011, armed police invaded the High Court to stop lawyers meeting to discuss their on-going campaign to get Michael Ramodibedi, the Swaziland Chief Justice removed from office.
Police stopped trade unionists and lawyers from delivering a petition to Minister of Labour and Social Security and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Police brutally put down a meeting of civil society groups held at the Swaziland National Association of Teachers Centre to prepare for a mass protest in March.
POLICE STOP PRAYERS FOR DEMOCRACY