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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

UK SUPPORTS JAILED SWAZI ACTIVIST

Students in the UK are to pay the university fees of Swaziland democracy campaigner Maxwell Dlamini after he was stopped from going to school because of his political beliefs.

Maxwell is the former leader of the Swaziland National Union of Students who was arrested and charged with possessing explosives at a democracy rally in 2011 and sedition after trying to organise a rally in April 2013 to oppose Swaziland’s non-democratic election.

He was released from jail, but on stringent bail conditions pending trial, after a global campaign to free him. He later reported he had been beaten while in jail.

The Swazi Government withdrew his scholarship to study at the University of Swaziland as punishment for his political activities.

Political parties are unable to operate in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. All opposition groups are banned as ‘terrorists’ under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Now, Dom Anderson, NUS Vice President (Society and Citizenship), has announced the UK National Union of Students will pay Dlamini’s school fees for the next term.

Dlamini had addressed the NUS conference in the UK earlier this year about the lack of democracy in Swaziland and the pressure student activists face.

Anderson said in a statement, ‘Students across the UK mobilized; Facebook profile pictures were replaced by the face of Maxwell for our campaign’s call to “Free Maxwell”.

‘MPs up and down the country received letters and emails from concerned students showing solidarity and demanding justice for Maxwell. At NUS we received unprecedented levels of support. It was wonderful to see students united against oppression being faced by one of our own, it was an action that followed in the tradition of global justice campaigning that NUS owes its history to.’

Maxwell told the UK NUS, ‘My release on bail was not just the benevolence of the undemocratic government but it was the tireless and relentless work of the UK NUS and all those who were involved in the campaign for my unconditional release.

‘The pressure they placed on government and profiling the case as wide as possible really exposed the kind of government that suppresses and repressed dissent and peace loving citizens. I was not going to be released if it wasn’t for the wonderful work of the campaign initiators.’

‘I am currently out on bail, I have not yet been allocated a court date to go and appear in court for the case. It is usual in Swaziland that people are placed on indefinite bail especially on political cases because government usually don’t have a case against the said accused they are placed on indefinite bail.

‘We however are doing everything possible with my lawyer to call for a speedy and fair trial so that the truth on the matter can be exposed to all.’

Anderson said, ‘Swaziland is a really harsh country to be a student activist. Those who support democracy and rights can expect to face intimidation and harassment from the regime at the very least, in the case of Maxwell, they can face a great deal worse.’

See also

POLICE HARASS STUDENT LEADER
POLICE TORTURE STUDENT LEADER
NOW, ELECTION MEETINGS ARE SEDITIOUS

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