A video in support of two jailed Swaziland journalist has been released as part of a new social media campaign to draw attention to human rights failings in the kingdom.
As a start #swazijustice is focussing on the case of Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko, who were jailed for two years for writing and publishing articles in the Nation magazine critical of the Swazi judiciary.
The video uses a speech Maseko, who is also a human rights lawyer, made from the dock at his trail. It appears on a number of social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and #swazijustice’s own website.
In a commentary on the video #swazjustice says, ‘Thulani Maseko is a Swazi human rights lawyer. Bheki Makhubu is a prominent journalist and the editor of the Nation magazine. These two men were arrested, detained, convicted of contempt of court, and sentenced to two years in prison, for exercising their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression in writing and publishing articles criticizing the judiciary in Swaziland.
‘The trial of Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu violated their human rights to a free and fair trial by an impartial judiciary. Moreover, the imprisonment of Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu is a violation of their rights to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.’
A number of prominent human rights activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu read out Maseko’s words, ‘The thrust of my defense is that I am not in contempt of court, but that the people of Swaziland are treated with contempt and disgusting disregard. … The people of Swaziland have a right to determine and shape their destiny.
‘If truth be told, this trial is about the prosecution and persecution of the aspirations of the people of this land to determine their own destiny, democratically and freely… When freedom is taken away, it becomes the onerous and supreme duty of men to reclaim it from the oppressor. For giving up freedom is tantamount to giving away man’s right to dignity. One can have no dignity without his or her freedom.
‘Without our freedom we are a people without a soul.
‘I am willing to pay the severest penalty, even if it means spending more days, or even more years in jail. It is well with my soul. I accept the penalty with a clean and a clear conscience that I did no wrong.
‘Human rights … are inherent, inalienable, indivisible and inviolable. This is clearly not the case in Swaziland.
‘It is our respectful contention that the issue here is not and has never been contempt of court…The issue is the abuse of the courts to silence dissenting voices in order to suppress aspirations for democratic change …. The people are yearning for freedom, democracy, and justice.
Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go way.” Of course, they will never go away even if brutal force, arrests and other forms of suppression and repression are used to silence dissent.
‘I do not for one moment believe that in finding me guilty and imposing a penalty on me for the charge I face, the court should be moved by the belief that penalties deter men from a cause they believe is right. History shows that penalties do not deter men and women when their conscience is aroused …The path to freedom goes through prison, but the triumph of justice over evil is inevitable.
‘Nothing this Court can do will shake me from my commitment to simple truth and simple justice.’
JAILED EDITOR WINS FREEDOM AWARD
JOURNALISTS JAILED TO DETER OTHERS
US BACKS CONVICTED SWAZI JOURNALISTS
JUDGE RESTRICTS PRESS FREEDOM
SUPPORT FOR CONVICTED JOURNALISTS
WHAT CONVICTED JOURNALISTS WROTE
COURT CONVICTS EDITOR AND WRITER