SOURCE: Guardian, UK
6 September 2010
Swaziland trade unionists targeted
Swaziland marks 42 years of independence from British colonial rule today. It should be an anniversary to enjoy, but for many Swazis there is little to celebrate. The country has the highest rates of HIV in the world, political parties are banned and the people denied basic human, civil and political rights.
This year has seen a dramatic escalation of government oppression of, and police attacks on, trade unionists. Peaceful demonstrations have been broken up, activists imprisoned and their homes raided. In May, police arrested activist Sipho Jele for wearing a T-shirt supporting a pro-democracy political party. He was later found dead in prison. The police claim that Jele committed suicide, but pathologist reports say there were signs suggesting he was strangled.
Now Swazi ministers plan to create a law that would make it illegal for workers in the public sector to discuss ‘political’ issues or associate with a ‘political’ group. This will clearly have a massive impact on the ability of Swazi public sector workers to belong to unions.
We call on the UK government to make representations to the Swazi government over these violations of human rights, and urge people to email the Swaziland high commission – see www.tuc.org.uk/actsa – asking for the repressive law to be dropped.
Brendan Barber General secretary, TUC
Tony Dykes Director, ACTSA